A rare collection of credentials and memorabilia belonging to legendary crime fighter Eliot Ness has surfaced and will be offered for the first time at an important Sept 27th sale by Central Mass Auctions of Worcester, MA.
Ness’ Department of Justice May 14, 1932 credential (numbered 3423) and Treasury Department of Prohibition credential dated May 20, 1927 (numbered 557) are the only known to exist - offering bidders a once in a lifetime opportunity to own a rare piece of American history!
The Ness collection, which has been appraised at $30,000 to $50,000, will be sold as an entirety. Other items include Eliot Ness’ business card and Christmas card. Among the other rarities are campaign photographs and brochures from Ness’ unsuccessful 1947 run for mayor of Cleveland. Ness memorabilia also includes original photos of Ness with dignitaries of the time including Thomas Dewey (Governor of New York from 1943-1954); Gene Tunney (1926-28 Heavyweight Boxing Champion); and Harvey Firestone, Jr. (head of Firestone Tire & Rubber Co.) and others.
These exceptional items were part of the estate of Eliot Ness’ trusted personal secretary Winifred Higgins Knorr, who died in 1997. Also included are telegrams to Winnie sent from Eliot. There are many personal effects of Ms. Higgins, who was very successful in her own right. She held many important positions within the Federal government and she became an attorney graduating Cum Laude from Cleveland Marshall Law School in June, 1955.
Auctioneer, Wayne Tuiskula (Central Mass Auctions), first viewed the collection while he was appraising collectibles for PBS Antiques Roadshow in Miami, FL on July 10, 2010. Tuiskula states that he is very pleased to have been chosen to offer this wonderful collection of Americana to the public.
According to biography.com, Eliot Ness was born in Chicago in 1903. Ness became a U.S. Treasury agent in 1927 and a U.S. Prohibition agent in 1928 in Chicago. He was the leader of a team named the Untouchables because they refused bribe offers from Al Capone’s gang of mobsters, and Ness was in part responsible for Capone’s arrest and conviction on tax evasion charges. Ness later moved to Cleveland, OH where he became Safety Director weeding out hundreds of crooked police officers. He later ventured into the business world becoming chairman of Diebold Corporation and Vice-President and Treasurer of “The Middle East Company.”
Eliot Ness succumbed to a massive heart attack on March 15, 1957, but his legacy lives on today through the best selling book “Untouchables” which Ness co-wrote, and was published a month after his death. The book illustrated his exploits in battling Chicago gangsters during prohibition and inspired a television series starring Robert Stack, which ran from 1959 to 1963; a 1987 movie “The Untouchables” starring Kevin Costner; and a 1991 TV Movie "The Return of Eliot Ness. Today, the name “Eliot Ness” remains one of the most notable in American law enforcement.
The Ness auction will be held Thursday, Sept 27th at 6:00 PM at 267 Providence St. in Worcester, MA.