The card grading industry has, in many ways, changed the face of modern collecting. Long-time collectors often resist the best-known changes brought about by grading: the price explosion among “low pop” commons and set registry competition resulting in exorbitant prices paid for minute increases in set “GPA.” Many more embrace the security of being able to purchase reliably-graded cards online, often sight unseen.
But none of those developments are actually new to the hobby. We’ve always judged cards by their condition, and deep-pocketed, quality-conscious collectors have always paid top dollar for pristine examples of the hobby’s marquee cards. Well-known collectors have always jockeyed to have the “best” collection. All this happened long before the names that dominate today’s set registries became household names within our hobby. Clear proof of this resides in long-time collectors’ knowledge of where the best “unregistered” collections lie, who has the “best” Wagners, Planks and Ruths outside the graded arena of the hobby.
While assessing condition and creating competition among collectors for the hobby’s top sets aren’t developments that were invented by grading companies, there is one hobby area that grading has helped develop, if not singlehandedly invented: the pedigree. All hobbyists agree that provenance is a critical component of collecting; tracking a card back to its original owner helps to trace a card’s lineage or create a virtual guarantee of authenticity (and reduces the likelihood of alteration along the way, in many cases). Indeed, many collectors are willing to pay a premium for cards once owned by hobby pioneers such as Lionel Carter or Frank Nagy or Barry Halper. Other collectors go out of their way to purchase cards once owned by a player. Some collectors have begun collecting subsets of pedigreed cards, each memorializing a specific player, collector, or hobby event. As more pedigreed cards enter the market, pedigreed card collecting is becoming more prevalent among collectors.
We are pleased to offer a significant pedigreed card collection in our Winter, 2014 auction. The collection includes many cards of all eras, owned by both hobby pioneers and significant figures in the game – collecting legends like Frank Nagy and Lionel Carter, as well as Hall of Famers like Mickey Mantle and Bob Feller. Many of the cards being offered are not necessarily super valuable cards in their own right, however, they are an important piece of hobby history with impeccable provenance.
To add to their provenance, the majority of the cards we will be offering are part of the collection of noted collector, dealer, and friend to everyone Jay Wolt. One of the most personable and lovable guys in the hobby, Jay has been a long-time collector of pedigreed cards, seeking out such cards as a student of hobby history. Jay collects pedigreed cards due to their historical significance, recognizing that in many cases, the hobby and the players who play the game we love are closely intertwined. As many are aware, Jay has been battling illness, and has decided to auction a large portion of his pedigreed card collection in an effort to defray medical expenses. We have allocated a special section in our auction just for pedigreed cards, most of which have been a part of the Wolt Collection, as a way of recognizing the interesting nature of pedigreed cards, and also out of respect for Jay. Jay is a long-time friend and mentor, and we – along with the entire hobby – are firmly in his corner as he fights his battle.
The auction will go live this week – stay tuned.