A mere three examples of the D322 Tip Top Bread Honus Wagner have been graded higher than this wonderful card, by either SGC or PSA. Featuring the Flying Dutchman in the fabled pose immortalized by legendary photographer Carl Horner, the card was issued as part of a 25-card set by the Ward-Mackey company to help promote its Tip Top Bread brand. Comprised of members of the 1909 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates, the attractive and unusual set is relatively scarce today, with the Wagner unquestionably being the set’s key card.
This is a particularly exceptional and important example, having been the card once owned by hobby pioneer Lionel Carter. Carter begin collecting in the 1930s and continued to do so until his extraordinary collection was auctioned in early 2009. Known for his penchant for high-grade cards, Carter amassed an incredible collection over the years while giving back to the hobby by sharing his considerable knowledge with other collectors. The length of time during which Carter built his collection meant that he acquired many cards before the hobby was as condition-sensitive as it is today; his cards were carefully affixed in scrapbooks where they remained protected for decades. The result has been an increased level of confidence among contemporary collectors that cards bearing the Carter pedigree are fresh, unaltered and not subjected to the rigors to which many prewar cards have been exposed over the years.
This is one of the finest examples of this card extant, and is the key card in a scarce, desirable and unique issue. In addition, it was one of the more valuable individual cards in the famed Lionel Carter Collection, fetching the highest price out of all the items in the auction where it initially appeared. The winning bidder has held the card for nearly five years, during which time just two other examples in similar grades have sold at public auction, both in 2010.
Suffice to say this is a scarce and extremely valuable card of one of the hobby’s most widely collected players, once owned by a beloved hobby pioneer, one of the highest-grade examples known to exist.
The first and arguably most popular of the four Red Man Tobacco issues, the 1952 set is one of the premier card issues of the hobby’s Golden Age. Featuring large, full-color illustrations of 52 of the era’s most coveted players along with some brief biographical information, the oversized nature of the cards coupled with their method of distribution (tucked outside a package of tobacco, protected only by a thin layer of cellophane) make the issue particularly condition sensitive. In addition, each card featured a coupon that could be redeemed for a free baseball cap; as a result, cards with the coupons still attached are more scarce and valuable than those without. A total of 20 Hall of Famers including very popular cards of Ted Williams, Willie Mays and Stan Musial make this one of the most coveted card issues of the 1950s.
Presented is a gorgeous, high-grade complete set that, with a set score approaching 85 ranks #4 on the SGC Registry with a total GPA that would rank it #3 on the current PSA Registry. As a result, this is the #6 graded and registered 1952 Red Man set in the hobby. Each card in the collection grades SGC NM 84 or 86, with particularly close attention paid not only to the cards’ technical grades but also to overall color and image quality. Rarely, if ever, does a Red Man set of this quality become available for sale, and due to lower populations and higher demand for high-grade cards from this issue, assembling a set in this condition would be a long and time-consuming process.
A condition breakdown of the cards in the set are as follows: SGC NM+ 86 (20 cards): #2N (Richie Ashburn); 2A; 5A; 7A; 8N; 10N; 11A; 12N (Ralph Kiner); 15N (Willie Mays); 16A; 17N (Pee Wee Reese); 18A; 19N (Red Schoendienst); 19A; 20A; 21N (Duke Snider); 21A; 22A; 23N; and 26N. SGC NM 84 (30 cards): #1A (Casey Stengel); 1N (Leo Durocher); 3N; 3A (Yogi Berra); 4N; 4A; 5A; 6A (Larry Doby); 6N; 7N; 8A (Bob Feller); 9N (Monte Irvin); 9A (Nellie Fox); 10A; 12A; 13A (George Kell); 13N; 14A; 14N; 15A; 16N (Stan Musial); 17A; 18N (Robin Roberts); 20N (Enos Slaughter); 22N (Warren Spahn); 23A (Ted Williams); 24N; 24A (Early Wynn); 25N; 25A; 26A.
This is a remarkably consistent set, with no card graded below NM. Easily one of the top graded 1952 Red Man sets in the entire hobby, with only five current sets graded higher on either the SGC or PSA registries. 52 cards total.