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Extremely Rare 1948 Leaf Boxing #50 Rocky Graziano - Newly Discovered!
Starting Bid - $5,000, Sold For - $41,125
Graded EX 5 by PSA. One of only two examples graded at this level, with just one graded higher by PSA. Presented is an extraordinary and newly discovered high-grade example of one of the most legendary rarities in all of card collecting: #50 Rocky Graziano from the 1948 Leaf Boxing series. This is the first 1948 Leaf Graziano we have ever had the privilege of offering! This particular card has a particularly interesting story. In our office, we will always remember this card as "the 1948 Leaf Graziano that fell from the sky." In September 2010, as a special courtesy to the family of one of card-collecting's great pioneers (who passed away in 2009), we personally picked up his already inventoried collection of cards. In the "hobby room," which was in the basement, as we prepared to pack away the cards for travel, we could not help but take the time to look for various extreme rarities just in case they were missed. How could we not look for the rare Doyle among the T206s? How could we not check the Goudeys, just in case there was a 1933 Lajoie? We were assured that these rarities were not there. In this collection, extreme rarities abounded (the T210 Joe Jackson in this auction, for example, heralds from this extraordinary collection), so we also could not help but look for the 1948 Leaf Graziano. As we went through this seemingly pointless exercise armed with a healthy dose of self-deprecating humor, we could not help but feel a little silly. But this is part of what we do. Call it a compulsion; call it being thorough and doing a good job; whatever it is, it is definitely part of what we naturally do. Late in the day, when we came to the 1948 Leaf boxing album, it seemed absurd to even ask, but we inquired about Graziano. The 1948 Leaf boxing cards were not in plastic pages; they were in a stack that seemed like a "brick," so the longtime family friend (and collector) who assisted very quickly put them in plastic pages for protection and assisted us in very quickly glancing through the pages to verify there was indeed no Graziano. We were wrong! Because there were TWO sets of 1948 Leaf boxing, it was very confusing how the cards were organized in the pages. We actually found this card days later, in the REA offices back in New Jersey, while processing the two sets (white and gray backs) of 1948 Leaf Boxing (which are offered as a separate lot in this auction). When we were organizing the cards properly, and found card #50 Graziano staring up at us from the album pages, you could have knocked us over with a feather. This was like finding a T206 Wagner in a collection of T206s AFTER already looking to make sure there was no Wagner! Not surprisingly, the news of the discovery was very well received! To the best of our knowledge there are fewer than ten examples of the legendary 1948 Rocky Graziano in existence. The reasons for the great rarity of Graziano are shrouded in mystery (similar to the T206 Wagner and Plank). One popular explanation which some say has basis in fact, is that Graziano wanted more money to have his image appear in Leaf's boxing card set. But there may be something to this legend since Graziano is also excluded from the 1951 Topps Ringside boxing set. While we will never know for sure, we suspect that the two complete sets of 1948 Leafs (including Graziano) may have decades ago been given to the pioneer collector who saved them directly from someone that worked for Leaf. The cards are so bright and fresh and crisp, and in such high grade, that it seems to us unlikely that these cards (the Graziano as well as the entire two sets of 49 cards) were ever actually issued in packs. While we will never know with certainty and can only speculate, we believe the fact that the perfect "brick" of cards included exactly one complete set of each back style (we have never seen complete sets of both styles together before), and the fact that the Graziano was included at all, are consistent with this theory. The discovery of a 1948 Leaf Graziano is extremely significant in any grade, but this is a particularly extraordinary high-grade card. The offered example has a perfectly crisp image, with flawless registration, and crisp, perfect white borders. It is perfectly clean front and back, with four square corners, and centered to the bottom right (approximately 75/25 L/R and 65/35 T/B). If not for the centering (which is not bad for a 1948 Leaf; centering issues are very common with 1948 Leafs in general), this card would grade much higher! The image of Graziano practically jumps off the flawless bold, bright-red background. This may be the single finest example in the world of this extremely important card. Pack-fresh, crisp, ultra high-grade example of one of card collecting's most legendary rarities, and a card that would be a highlight in even the world's most advanced and finest collection. Reserve $5,000. Estimate $10,000/$15,000. SOLD FOR $41,125
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