1887 N690 Kalamazoo Bats John Ward, NY's

Sold For: $141,000

Auction Year: 2008 spring

Lot: 13

Item Year: 1887

Category: Featured

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Graded VG/EX 50 by SGC. Presented is an extraordinary newly discovered Kalamazoo Bats example of Hall of Famer John Ward. This card is only the second example of Ward we have ever seen. All New York Giants and Mets player Kalamazoo Bats are exceedingly rare. We estimate that fewer than forty 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 available Philadelphia Athletics series. The offered example of New York's John Ward is in extraordinary condition. Bright, fresh, crisp, perfectly centered, perfectly clean, both front and back, with four razor-sharp corners, and flawless contrast. This card has an appearance far superior to its SGC-assigned grade. At a glance it appears Near Mint to Mint, and has been downgraded due to a tiny surface chip in the lower left corner, and a very light, extremely fine apparent surface crease in background in the upper left. We say "apparent" simply because this is very possibly not technically a crease; this appears to us to be a production-related surface wrinkle from when the photographic surface of the card was placed on the cardboard mount in sheets when manufactured. The card has a Near Mint to Mint overall appearance.

This card is one of an exciting recent find of three high-grade New York Giants player Kalamazoo Bats. In the past, all of the high-grade New York player Kalamazoo Bats cards known to exist originated from a single legendary find in 1987 that included approximately ten New York players. It is remarkable that a new find of these great rarities, even a small find of just three cards, has surfaced at this late date. All three cards are offered as separate lots in this auction.

Every significant card discovery has a story. Sometimes the stories get shared, sometimes they are lost forever. We always make it a point to at least ask about the background of every significant find. The Cooperstown-area family that owns the three cards are noncollectors. They had no idea that the grandfather of the family had any baseball cards until about five years ago. That was when the eighty-year-old gentleman casually mentioned to his daughter that he had a few collectibles he had stored away in a box. He thought they might valuable, and wanted to be sure the family was aware of these items. There were a few old coins, not of any significant value, and just three baseball cards. The family always intended to investigate the value of the cards, and possibly sell them, but according to the grandson, they just never quite got around to it, and the cards kept getting misplaced. "It wasn't a high priority. We thought they were worth hundreds of dollars, not thousands. We have a big family. If you put something someplace, it doesn't mean it's going to stay put. The cards kept getting moved around and misplaced. One time they were missing, and we finally found them mixed in with pictures in our family photo albums. We put them in a safe place again, and after cleaning up one day they wound up missing for months again. The last time they were missing we finally found them in a sock drawer. I knew they were valuable, and when that happened I suggested to the family that maybe we should finally sell them. My mom agreed, so I undertook the research project to investigate their value and to decide how to best handle the cards. They turned out to be better than we thought."

The three cards are indeed extraordinary. The cards from this new, small but incredible find are so fresh and crisp they could be mistaken for examples from the 1987 find. New York players are among the rarest of all nineteenth-century baseball cards. In most cases, only two or three examples are known of each, and in some cases only a single example is known. Each of the newly discovered cards is only the second confirmed example of that player known to exist. The offered example of John Ward is the only Hall of Famer and the greatest prize of the new find. It is one of the best of all Kalamazoo Bats or John Ward 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, this is a miracle card. Reserve $10,000. Estimate $50,000+. SOLD FOR $141,000.00

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