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1887 N690 Kalamazoo Bats Jim O'Rourke, NY's (Ex-Copeland)
Starting Bid - $5,000, Sold For - $58,750
Graded EX 60 by SGC. Highest-graded example by SGC with no examples graded by PSA. Presented is an extraordinary Kalamazoo Bats portrait example of Hall of Famer Jim O'Rourke. This rare New York Giants portrait card is the finest example in existence of Jim O'Rourke, and in fact, as can easily be seen, it is one of the finest in terms of condition of all Kalamazoo Bats cards in existence, let alone those featuring Hall of Famers. This card has a particularly interesting and significant provenance. In 1987 there was a legendary find of Kalamazoo Bats cards in Philadelphia that included about ten New York players. In addition to the excitement generated by the find due to the incredible rarity of the cards (many of which were never before known to even exist), all were in virtually Mint condition. The offered card is one of the New York Kalamazoo Bats from this legendary find. The card eventually found its way into The Jim Copeland Collection and in 1991 was sold in the famous Copeland Auction, which will always be regarded as one of the true landmark events in hobby history. The card has not seen the light of day since. It has been consigned to this auction directly from the buyer at the Copeland auction and is accompanied by the original 1991 Sotheby's invoice. (It is also accompanied by the original "butterfly" riker mount display case with Sotheby's stickers in which it was displayed to the public at the Copeland Auction in New York, and in which it has been stored all these years.)
New York Giants and Mets player Kalamazoo Bats are among the rarest of all nineteenth-century cards. We estimate that fewer than 35 examples are known in the entire collecting world. The New York player Kalamazoos all feature portraits, and are considered by advanced collectors to actually be a set unto themselves, distinct from the rare but far more readily available Philadelphia Athletics series. In Lew Lipset's The Encyclopedia of Base Ball Cards Volume 1 - 19th Century Cards published in 1984, he speculates that the Kalamazoo Bats Mets and Giants players actually date from 1886 (as opposed to 1887), and an analysis of the known players (including checklist additions discovered since 1984) verifies that this is almost certainly the case. The offered example of New York's Jim O'Rourke is in simply spectacular condition. It is crisp and clean, with a flawless portrait, superb contrast, four sharp corners, and a perfectly clean back (a few hints of surface toning at the top mentioned for accuracy). SGC has downgraded this card due to some tiny flaw (a very tiny surface wrinkle in the middle of the left edge on the reverse, barely visible with extreme magnification, or the couple tiny hints of surface toning also on the reverse). We grade this card Near Mint to Mint. It is virtually unimprovable. By any measure, this is one of the best of all Kalamazoo Bats or Jim O'Rourke cards in existence, and one of the most desirable of all nineteenth-century baseball cards from any set. In the world of nineteenth-century card collecting, both in terms of rarity and condition, this is a miracle card! Reserve $5,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $58,750
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