M110 Sporting Life Cabinets

In 1911, the popular sports publication Sporting Life published a large set of baseball cards that we now know as the M116 Sporting Life issue.  In addition to that set, the company issued a six-subject set of beautiful cabinet cards, similar in size and design to the popular T3 Turkey Red cabinet cards but much more rare.  The cards, incredibly rare today, are among the more beautiful issues of its day, and we are pleased to offer four of the six cards in our Fall auction.

Between SGC and PSA, just 94 examples of all the cards in the set have been graded.  With five of the six cards in the set featuring Hall of Famers (the non-Hall of Famer being Hal Chase), they are much more scarce than the wildly popular T3 Turkey Red cabinet cards, and far more valuable.  In this auction, we are offering the cards of Nap Lajoie, Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, and Frank Chance, each as separate lots.

Very rarely do these cards make themselves available at public auction, and certainly not in this quantity.

These cards are extraordinarily difficult to locate in any grade, and as such, record prices are achieved with virtually every sale.  It is often, quite literally, years in-between when examples of these cards are available at public auction.

M110 Chance FrontAside from two very beat-up examples of the Frank Chance card which sold for record low prices last month, the most recent example of the card to sell at public auction came in May of 2011, an SGC example that fetched nearly $18,000. This example sold in that same auction, for $2,600, and we feel the price was depressed by the presence of the higher-grade example in the same auction.

 

 

M110 Cobb FrontFor whatever reason, the Ty Cobb card seems to make itself available more frequently than the rest.  Two Cobbs have sold at public auction this year: a PSA 2 that fetched just shy of $5,000 last month, and a PSA 4 that sold for $11,400 in early spring.  Our example, an SGC 10 with a corner clip and some creasing and surface wear, still boasts exceptional eye appeal with respect to the image itself.

 

 

M110 Wagner Front

The Honus Wagner card is extraordinarily valuable.  Just two examples have sold at public auction this year – a PSA 1.5 with a chewed-up corner and significant staining that fetched $4,100 last month, and a PSA 1 with a torn-off corner that sold for $4,800 in January.  This example is far more attractive than either, appearing as a VG card save for a slight trim on the left edge.

 

 

M110 Lajoie Front

Just one example of the M110 Nap Lajoie has sold in 2013 – a PSA 2 that brought nearly $1,700.  Our example, graded EX 60 by SGC, is a far more attractive card, closer in appearance and general eye appeal to the EX 70 example that sold for $8,225 in a 2010 auction.

As evidenced by the infrequency of their public sale, M110 cabinet cards are extraordinarily difficult to find, highly desirable among collectors, and extremely valuable.  The four examples featured in our auction represent two-thirds of a set, missing just Chase and Christy Mathewson for completion.  A grouping of cards this scarce and beautiful makes itself available very, very infrequently.

Billiken Cigarettes Andy Cooper

Billiken Cooper FrontThe Billiken Cigarettes set of 1923-24 were a Cuban-issued set that featured 2×2 5/8″ cards depicting 60 players from the Cuban Professional League.  Each black and white glossy photo has an ad on the reverse, either for Billiken or La Moda Cigarettes.  One of the more popular Cuban league sets, this set includes many stars of the American Negro Leagues, including Oscar Charleston (perhaps the key card in the set), Pop Lloyd, Jose Mendez, Marianao Torriente, and this card of Andy Cooper.
 
Cooper was a well-known left-handed pitcher who played for the Detroit Stars in the Negro Leagues when this card was issued.  In 1928, Cooper was traded to the famed Kansas City Monarchs, where he played until 1929.  As manager of the Monarchs between 1937 and 40, he won his league title three times before suffering a stroke early in the 1941 season, prematurely ending his managerial career and, shortly after, his life.  Negro League scholars generally rank Cooper among the top two or three left-handed pitchers in the history of the Negro Leagues, and while he sadly was never given the chance to compete in the Major Leagues, his greatness was finally recognized in 2006, when the Committee of African-American Baseball elected him to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
 
This example, likely Cooper’s first card, is also his most desirable.  Despite this, very few public transactions involving this card exist on record in the last few years.  In 2012, an SGC 30 example sold at auction for $5,400, while in a 2011 eBay transaction, a severely off-center SGC VG 40 example of the card traded hands for $6,800.  
Billiken Brown BackThis example is the finest known, and very likely the highest-grade example in existence.  The supply of Cuban baseball cards that survived and subsequently made it to the American hobby is very limited, and Billikens have attracted the attention of many prewar and Negro Leagues collectors due to their attractive photographs.  This is the finest known example of the first card of one of the greatest players of the American Negro Leagues.

1938 Goudey Baseball

1938 Goudey A DiMaggio FrontAs the country was beginning to emerge from the Depression, the Goudey Gum Company of Boston was struggling to stay afloat, having recently purchased the assets of the defunct National Chicle company, incorporating those assets into the Goudey product line.  1937 saw no new gum card issue featuring major league players, but the company’s innovative marketing ideas nonetheless remained strong as they issued the first series of what they called the “Heads Up” set.

A series of 24 cards featuring color photographs of players’ faces set into a caricature of a player’s body, the whimsical card designs also attempted to capitalize on the immense popularity of Goudey’s 240-card 1933 issue by mimicking the cards’ backs, and by beginning the set with card #241 – Charlie Gehringer.  For the second series, the company simply recycled the first 24 cards, adding various cartoon illustrations, along with player biographical information, to the card obverse.

1938 Goudey B Foxx FrontWartime rationing and paper drives, along with Goudey’s own financial distress, have made this issue more difficult to obtain than most of Goudey’s baseball issues (particularly in higher grade), and provided us with very little information about the production of the set.  As legend has it, most of Goudey’s company records were burned in the factory furnace in the 1960s, taking any files that might help us to understand the company’s decision to re-print the first series cards with modified designs, as opposed to issuing new cards of new players.  Certainly, many of the day’s superstars are not represented among the set’s 24 subjects – Carl Hubbell, Al Simmons, and Bill Dickey, to name a few.  Further, the issue’s second series refers to  the set’s containing a total of 312 subjects, when the set itself actually cut off at number 288 (Bob Feller).  What happened to those last 24 cards?

We are pleased to offer an outstanding group of 1938 Goudey cards – among the finest in the hobby – as collected by the owner of Love of the Game.

1938 Goudey B Lombardi FrontThe cards, which represent 41 of the set’s 48 cards, are currently ranked #2 on the SGC Registry (minus the #274 DiMaggio, which is not included in this auction).  The #1 set is, of course, the famous Lionel Carter set, which was purchased and kept together as a single set, and includes the only 1938 Goudey to be graded MINT 10 to date.

This same set was also retired as the #6 set on the PSA Set Registry some years ago, and crossed to SGC as a “second opinion.”  Each of the cards in this offering has been graded by both companies, and received a numeric grade each time.  More than half the cards grade NM or better, with only two grading below EX-MT.

1938 Goudey A Lombardi FrontOne of the two is the #246 Ernie Lombardi variation – a scarce variation of which only one example is known to have graded higher.

 

 

 

 

 

1938 Goudey A Doerr Front

1938 Goudey A Feller Front

One of the set’s key cards – the #264 Bob Feller – is graded NM-MT 88.  An extremely scarce card in high grade, just one has ever graded higher.  The collection also features the rookie card of Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr, card #258, in NM-MT 88.

 

1938 Goudey WrappersLastly, the collection features two different wrappers.  The wrappers are very scarce and rarely make their way to public auction, never before as a pair (to our knowledge).  While the wrappers are not marked, we believe these to be the first and second series wrappers.

An outstanding collection of very scarce, high-grade cards from one of the hobby’s more interesting mainstream gum card issues.

1938 Goudey B Lopez Front

1938 Goudey B Gehringer Front

1938 GOudey A Mungo Front

1938 Goudey A Greenberg Front

1938 GOudey A Gehringer Front