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.
Aside 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.
For 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.
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.
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.