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PLEASE NOTE: New Information has come to light about this auction offering.
Based on the accompanying notarized affidavit by Roman Bronze Works President Philip Schiavo, this Heisman Trophy has circulated in the collecting hobby as, in Schiavo's words, "the exact Heisman Memorial trophy actually awarded to Mr. Kazmaier at the award ceremony and reception in 1951." However, it has come to our attention that Kazmaier's original trophy from the 1951 Downtown Athletic Club (DAC) ceremony was actually donated to Princeton University in 1952 (it remains there today). This, therefore, is the duplicate Heisman that was presented to Kazmaier in 1971. (Beginning in the late 1960s, the DAC has issued two trophies to each Heisman winner, and in 1971 Kazmaier requested and received his second trophy.) In the 1990s, the offered Kazmaier Heisman sustained minor damage and was returned to Roman Bronze Works, where it received repairs and then ultimately entered the collecting hobby upon its sale in 2004. Hence, although this is not Kazmaier's first trophy presented to him in 1951, it is his bona fide 1971 Heisman Trophy and remains one of only a small number ever to become publicly available.
(Click Here for more information on Kazmaier's trophy donations to Princeton and to Maumee High School.)
The Thinker. The Discus Thrower. The Statue of David.
Some may dismiss the idea of a 20th Century football trophy belonging in such elite company as the sculptures of Rodin, Myron and Michelangelo. But in the realm of American pop culture, there are few visual touchstones as famously familiar as the "Heisman pose": football cradled in the left arm, right hand outstretched to repel defenders, legs lunging mid-stride. In 1991, Michigan's Desmond Howard transported the stance from the black-tie Downtown Athletic Club to the game-day gridiron itself, striking the Heisman in the end zone after a 93-yard punt-return touchdown against Ohio State. Since then, Howard's image has graced magazine, newspapers, and video-game packaging, while ushering forth a trend that has permeated football fields nationwide, concert stages, and, yes, countless wedding pictures of groomsmen. Even Barack Obama was photographed in the pose on a campaign stop!
Proudly on offer here is the Heisman Memorial Trophy presented to Princeton Tigers tailback Dick Kazmaier. At 5-foot-11 and 155 pounds in his freshman year, the scrawny Ohio native didn't seem quite like gridiron material when he traded his canvas basketball sneakers for football cleats in the fall of 1948. Yet a tireless work ethic, gifted field vision and strong leadership skills helped him blossom into an offensive powerhouse who could not only see the holes in an opposing defense but mercilessly exploit them. As a senior, Kazmaier paced the nation in total offense (1,827 yards) and steered his Tigers to a 22-game win streak—crowned by one of the great individual performances in college football history. On October 27, 1951, against undefeated rival Cornell, a record crowd of 49,000 at Princeton's Palmer Stadium witnessed their versatile star complete 15 of 17 passes for 236 yards and 3 TDs, plus rush 18 times for 124 yards and 2 TDs. A Sports Illustrated headline later called it "The Day Kaz Roared." TIME magazine's cover story declared, "From a single wing, a triple threat." And the Associated Press selected Kazmaier over Stan Musial and Ben Hogan as the Male Athlete of the Year. The loftiest honor of all came on December 4th when Dick Kazmaier beat out the likes of Hugh McElhenny and Ollie Matson to capture the Heisman. In fact, he collected more first-place votes than all the other candidates combined, as well as became the first Heisman winner ever with a victory margin of more than 1,000 total election points.
Kazmaier's hefty, awe-inspiring award stands 17-3/4" tall and weighs 34 pounds. The bronze figure—originally rendered in 1935 by noted sculptor Frank Eliscu, who used NYU star Ed Smith as his model—is nicely patina-ed and spectacularly well-preserved. It perches atop a plinth, which is then mounted to a substantial black base with the plaque reading, "THE HEISMAN MEMORIAL TROPHY / Is Presented By / Downtown Athletic Club of New York City / To / RICHARD W. KAZMAIER / Princeton University / As The / Outstanding College Football Player / In The United States / For / 1951." Little noticeable, the black base appears to show a slight warping effect that results in a not-quite completely flat underside and a small space under the right side of the plinth. The plaque also shows minor general surface wear and isolated spotting to the left of Kazmaier's name.
Cast by New York-based Roman Bronze Works—the Heisman Trophy's sole foundry from the mid-1930s up until 2002—this is the actual trophy bestowed upon Dick Kazmaier at the Downtown Athletic Club dinner on December 11, 1951. It remained in Kazmaier's possession until the late 1990s, when it was returned to Roman Bronze Works for repair after sustaining damage in an airport scanning machine en route to a sports exhibition. The foundry then provided Kazmaier with its own casting template, or "pattern trophy," as a replacement (complete with the original plaque). From that point forward, the original trophy here—seamlessly repaired with no visible evidence of any figural damage—began serving as Roman Bronze Works' official pattern template to which subsequent Heisman trophies were compared. In 2002, the Heisman committee and their long-time foundry parted ways. In 2004, Roman Bronze Works attached another base and plaque and sold Kazmaier's authentic Heisman Trophy example to a California art gallery, where it then entered the collecting hobby to reign as the premier flagship piece in the Dreier Museum.
Provenance comes in the form of a notarized affidavit dated October 16, 2004, from Roman Bronze Works president Philip Schiavo. Also included are a wire photo of Kazmaier posed with this trophy, a signed 8" x 10" photo, and a signed copy of the TIME cover issue. As a point of reference, others among the very few Heismans ever to be made publicly available—such as those of Larry Kelley ('36), Bruce Smith ('41), Paul Hornung ('56), O.J. Simpson ('68) and Charles White ('79)—have sold for between $200,000 and $400,000.
The Heisman Memorial Trophy is truly, as billed, "The Most Prestigious Award in College Football," and one could make a strong argument for its prestige being paramount to any single-player award in sports, whether an MVP, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young or Gold Glove. None of those laurels carry quite the same venerable cachet as...The Heisman. For this country, it is our Thinker, our Discus Thrower, our Statue of David. It is timeless, immortal, and All-American.
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