1889 A35 Goodwin Round Album

Sold For: $6,000

Auction Year: 2016 fall

Lot: 89

Item Year: 1889

Category: Pre-1900 Baseball Cards (1830-1899)

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Spectacular ultra high-grade example of one of nineteenth-century tobacco's most extraordinary baseball items: The “Goodwin Round Album " (as it is known in collecting circles). Like N173 Old Judge cabinet cards, the Round Album was available only by mail in exchange for coupons packed with Goodwin Tobacco. This extraordinary example is complete as issued, with all nine album pages featuring players, the advertising page, and both covers. Of the nine player pages of the Round Album, four each display a single beautiful full-color portrait (Anson, Kelly, Ward, and Comiskey), and five pages feature four players each, including Hall of Famers Mickey Welch, Tim Keefe, Roger Connor, John Ward, and Jim O’Rourke in full-length poses. The reverse of each page contains player records and game schedules printed in blue. The outstanding graphics, players represented, elaborate design with player records on the reverse of each page, and its extreme rarity make it one of the premier nineteenth-century printed baseball items, and the most desirable of all pre-1900 tobacco-premium albums.

The A35 Goodwin Round Album is one of the great prizes of all nineteenth-century baseball collecting. It is extremely desirable and valuable in any condition, but this example is of all the more special note due to its outstanding condition. Of all the A35 Round Albums we have ever seen, heard of, or handled, this spectacular example is in the top three! A35 Goodwin Round Albums tend not to survive without significant damage, including creasing, tearing (especially where bound), and pages missing. This is a rare ultra high-grade example. All of the pages are bright, crisp, and clean, with the central image areas for each displaying a Nr-Mt to Mt appearance. Both the front and back covers have had very minor professional restoration to small tears, including those around the clasp hole. Still, these are in particularly high grade for A35 album covers, which are usually found seriously damaged when they are not lost entirely. All of the pages remain in extraordinary Ex-Mt to Nr-Mt condition overall. The album is accompanied by a replacement string and vintage tassel.

The Round Album has always been highly valued in any condition. Even back in the 1930s, Jefferson Burdick assigned a value of $10 to the Round Album, reflecting its status as one of baseball collecting’s most valuable items. This was back when a T206 Wagner was listed at a then incredible $50. The values of most nineteenth-century baseball tobacco issues have soared over the past ten years. It is interesting to note that the Round Album, based on criteria as varied as rarity, beauty, players represented, and how incredibly substantial it is, now represents, in the opinion of many serious collectors and scholars, a tremendous value compared to most other nineteenth-century baseball tobacco issues (Note: This is opinion is strongly shared by REA!) This may be because when Round Albums do surface, they usually have serious condition problems, and because grading companies do not yet grade album pages due to their size (8 inches in diameter). It is very rare that such an outstanding high-grade example of this nineteenth-century classic surfaces. For nineteenth-century baseball issues, it would be hard to go wrong with any Goodwin Round Album, let alone an ultra high-grade example such as this. Few nineteenth-century tobacco cards feature color lithography, and high-grade photographic cards featuring the stars depicted on the pages of the A35 Goodwin Round Album (each of which is essentially a large round card) sell for many thousands or tens of thousands of dollars each. An A35 Round Album, of course, in addition to being a set of nine pages featuring players (plus two covers and additional Goodwin & Company advertising page), naturally lends itself to framing, and, when displayed in this manner presents as one of the most impressive of all tobacco premium or nineteenth-century baseball displays. Reserve $2,000. Estimate $4,000+.


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