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Lot # 29 (of 1594)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

Extraordinary Collection 1886-1889 N172 Old Judge Tobacco Cards (403 cards)

Starting Bid - $10,000.00, Sold For - $111,625.00

This outstanding collection of 403 different 1886-1889 N172 Old Judges represents one of the largest collections of these classic nineteenth-century cards ever assembled, let alone offered at auction at a single time as a collection. This is an extraordinary and carefully assembled collection, with all cards different (many players represented by more than one pose, includes some duplicate poses with text variations or team changes). An amazing 297 different players are included. There are only approximately 519 different players known to exist in the entire Old Judge set. (The 297 different number is players only, and does not include the approximately thirty-five team changes in the collection, which many collectors consider to be just as important as different players). The last collection of Old Judges of this magnitude offered by REA was in January 1994 (and collectors still ask us about that lot to this day). Old Judge collections of this size and quality just don't turn up. Collectors often see individual cards available, but the assembly of a collection including hundreds of different players has always been very rare. Old Judges, which were issued by Goodwin & Company from 1886 to 1890, are universally recognized as the premier nineteenth-century baseball card set. They have always been appreciated for their great historical significance as the very first major baseball card set. Old Judges rarely surface today in any quantity and the offering of even a few cards makes serious collectors take note. Cards are usually offered individually, and "commons" can bring prices which just a few short years ago would have been thought appropriate only for Hall of Famers. The 403 cards in this lot are an advanced collection unto themselves, and included are cards which will improve virtually any world-class Old Judge collection, of which there are few. The Old Judge set offers both the beginning and advanced collector a serious challenge. Any collection, large or small, is of great historical note. A large collection such as this captures an entire cross-section of players, almost all of which can be found in no other set, from one of baseball's most exciting eras. This uncommonly large collection of 403 cards includes seventeen Hall of Famers, numerous scarcities, portraits, rare teams, noteworthy stars such as Billy Sunday, managers, horizontal cards, and rare poses. Condition: With reference to condition, collectors tend to be much more forgiving with Old Judges than other vintage cards, let alone more recent issues. The condition of the cards in this collection spans all grades, with the vast majority being in the Very Good to Excellent range. An approximate breakdown follows: 34% range from Vg-Ex/Ex to Ex-Mt, 35% range from Vg to Vg-Ex, 24% Good, and 7% lesser grades. Many of even the lowest graded cards are extremely attractive (a nice looking card with a pin hole, for example, was counted among the lowest-graded cards). All of the grades in the preceding composite, as well as the grades of the small selection of individual cards listed which follows, are without reference to reverse flaws in the form of notations, scrapbook paper attached, light paper loss, or glue marks, which affect a large percentage of the blank backs and are so common and standard for Old Judges. One of the puzzling aspects of Old Judges with reference to condition is that the numerical grades assigned by grading companies are downgraded harshly for back damage of any kind (which pretty much "comes with the territory" for most Old Judges) and the quality of the images on the cards is not taken into account in any way. There are so many cases when an Old Judge is technically in very low grade but is considered a far superior card than a high-grade example in terms of eye-appeal and desirability by many collectors. In the old days, advanced collectors weren't concerned at all about whether there was glue, a little scrapbook paper, an ink stamp, or pencil notations on the backs of Old Judges. Just to have the card, hopefully with a quality image, was the whole point. Most, if not all, collectors interested in collecting the entire Old Judge set today feel similarly. The following is a list of some of the many highlights: Brouthers (Det bat, Ex), Clarkson (Chi catching, Vg/Vg-Ex), Comiskey (Capt sliding, Ex), Comiskey (1st B, Capt sliding, Vg), Duffy (Chi fielding, Vg-Ex/Ex), Ewing/mascot (Vg), Ewing (leaning on bat, trim along top border, otherwise Vg, strong image), Ewing (Capt leaning to right, Vg-Ex/Ex), Griffith (Mil hands at chest, Gd, light image), Keefe (ball in hand, Gd-Vg), Keefe/Richardson (horizontal double-player pose, Vg-Ex/Ex), McCarthy (throwing, Ex), McCarthy (sliding, Ex), O'Rourke (leaning on bat, slight trim at bottom, otherwise Vg), Radbourn (bat on shoulder, photo light, with surface border chip, Gd), Thompson (batting, Vg), Ward (hand on hip, Gd-Vg), six 1886 brownie Champs portraits (2 Vg-Ex, 2 Vg, 1 Gd, 1 Fr): Bushong, Caruthers, Foutz, Kemmler, Robinson, and Welsh; Barnes (mgr St Paul, Vg due to two corner creases, otherwise Ex), Burnham (mgr Indpls, two pinholes, great looking card), McGunnigle (mgr Bklyn, Ex), Mutrie (mgr NY, possible trim, still a nice looking card), Sunday (Gd-Vg), Whitney w/Dog (Vg); three horizontal sliding poses: Collins (NY, Vg), Dorgan (NY, Fr-Gd) Mattimore (NY, Vg); four tagging player poses: Ferguson (Phil, Vg-Ex), Pfeffer (Chi, Vg), Robinson (Minn, Vg), Shannon (Louisville, Ex), and many, many more noteworthy cards (too many to list). This is an amazing collection, not just because of the quantity of the cards included, but because of the attention to detail with reference to different players and team changes, and the incredible amount of time, energy, and effort that was obviously required for its assembly. This old-time collection represents an extremely rare opportunity to acquire a very significant, comprehensive collection of Old Judges, which with focus would be very practical to add to in the future, in the march toward completion (though that ultimate goal may be impossible) of the most fascinating and desirable of all nineteenth-century issues: the N172 Old Judge set. Due to practical considerations, it is possible to illustrate only a small selection from this significant collection in our printed catalog, but we have provided images of all 403 cards on our website. There are so many striking cards and images, and so many variables to Old Judges with reference to photo quality and contrast, that by providing images of the entire collection online we feel we an can most effectively communicate and document the quality of this extraordinary collection. A complete list of all 403 cards in the collection is also available, and can easily be faxed or sent by email in a spread sheet upon request. Total 403 cards. Reserve $10,000. Estimate (open).

Additional images are available at http://photos.yahoo.com/reaphotos. SOLD FOR $111,625.00


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