Goldin Elite Auction Ending May 22-23
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This lot closes on May 22nd, 2021 at 10:00 PM EDT for initial bids.

The Thinker. The Discus Thrower. The Statue of David. The Heisman? 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. It is arguably the most prestigious individual award in the entirety of American sports, and one of the most recognizable sculptures in all of American art.

The recognition of naming the most outstanding collegiate football player is a tradition that is now in its 10th decade, but this presented trophy was just the third ever issued, and just the second to honor iconic coach John Heisman, as the inaugural edition, earned by Chicago halfback Jay Berwanger, was named instead for the issuing body, The Downtown Athletic Club Trophy. The second year was Larry Kelley of Yale University’s designation as the nation’s best collegiate player and the first to bear the Heisman name. That trophy sold nearly two decades ago for $328,110, just months before Kelley's passing at age 84.

For the second straight season, the Yale Bulldogs would have college’s best player in Clint Frank and he was presented with this offered award. Frank was a tremendous two-way player and was most effective as a tailback in Yale coach Ducky Pond’s single-wing system, while also adept at passing, catching, fielding kick returns and even play calling. Frank was additionally a tremendous safety and was notorious for being involved in every play and led Yale to a 6-1-1 record. With Frank’s selection as the Heisman winner in 1937, it was the first of only three times in the history of the award that saw student athletes of the same institution claiming the prize in back-to-back seasons.

This award is a nice patina bronze figure—originally rendered in 1935 by noted sculptor Frank Eliscu, who used NYU star Ed Smith as his model—perches on a plinth measuring 6 ½ x 13 ½ inches, which is then mounted atop a rectangle block black base spanning a perimeter of 8 x 15 x 4 ½ inches and the entire trophy stands approximately 18-inches tall. Mounted on the base, is a gold-colored plate that reads "THE HEISMAN MEMORIAL TROPHY, PRESENTED BY THE DOWNTOWN ATHLETIC CLUB OF NEW YORK CITY TO CLINT FRANK, YALE UNIVERSITY, AS THE OUTSTANDING COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYER OF 1937."

The trophy plaque exhibits a small degree of wear due to its advanced age, but otherwise the award is good condition, is structurally sound free of any condition distractions. This trophy was originally consigned to auction by Frank's children and will be accompanied by the signed letter of provenance from the family.

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. Since 1998, the Downtown Athletic Club has required its recipients to sign an agreement that the award they are given is not to be sold, making any Heisman trophies available for sale that much more rare. For this country, it is our Thinker, our Discus Thrower, our Statue of David. It is timeless, immortal, and All-American. Recently, the Heisman Trophy of Rashaan Salaam was sold for $399,000 and making this award even more special is that this is the original award presented to Frank, the third winner in the history of this prestigious award.

Frank’s legacy on the football field would be surpassed by his legacy off it as he passed on the NFL, spending the rest of his live as a successful businessman. After retiring at the age of 60, Frank would dedicate the rest of his life towards philanthropy involving himself in medical research, special needs children and was a champion of the arts before his passing in 1992 at the age of 76.

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