January 15, 2020
File this under you never know what's on the other end of the phone. A call to Robert Edward Auctions' New Jersey office last month yielded an early contender for new discovery of the year.
A long-time dealer/collector reached out to the auction house, known for high-end and rare items, to inquire about some items that he'd had in his possession for nearly thirty years. Among them were sets and singles from classic Topps and Bowman issues, a few autographs, and something billed as "a card of Ty Cobb that not many people have seen." Intrigued by this description, REA representatives asked for a picture and were floored by what he sent over.
There, in a thick lucite holder not commonly encountered since the 1990s, was a Sporting Life cabinet card of Ty Cobb from the famous W600 series. Recognizing immediately the significance of the card, REA made arrangements to secure the card on consignment. The card was submitted to PSA at the consignor's request, only the fourth example evaluated by the company in nearly thirty years, where it received a grade of GOOD 2 from PSA. The company will feature the card as part of its spring auction set to open on April 3.
In the world of Hall of Fame rookie-card collecting, there are a few cards that have emerged as true "holy grails" for collectors seeking the earliest known card to feature these important players. Some of the nineteenth-century's greatest figures appeared in few sets or on obscure cabinet cards not widely available, making their first appearance highly sought after. At the turn of the twentieth century, Sporting Life's W600 set was among the first cards produced featuring ballplayers so the set holds the distinction of "first appearance" for several players. Issued between 1902 and 1911, the oversized cards can picture players in either street clothes and uniforms or both. Cobb's card, issued in his rookie year of 1907, depicts the young outfielder in his Detroit uniform and is the only Cobb card within the set. For collectors of Cobb, W600s, or Hall of Fame rookies, this card represents a white whale of epic proportions.
This card is only the fifth example on record between the combined SGC and PSA population reports. In 2010, REA sold a lower graded example for $38,188. Ten years later, this card is expected to realize multiples of that price. "The significance of this card cannot be overstated," said REA President Brian Dwyer. "It represents the most important card of one of the most important players ever to play the game, and it has eluded many serious collectors for years." Dwyer declined to provide an estimate on the final hammer price only saying that, in his opinion, the card would easily eclipse six figures. "Nothing would surprise us on this card, and we are very excited about bringing it to auction this spring."
REA continues to accept consignments for the spring auction. Anyone interested in discussing items is encouraged to contact us by the end of the month. The spring auction will run from April 3 to April 19. More information on consigning and bidding is available at www.RobertEdwardAuctions.com.