1949 Eureka Sportstamps

We’re proud to offer a starter lot of 25 high-grade examples of the 1949 Eureka Sportstamp issue.

In the aftermath of World War II, sports card manufacturers were just beginning to kick back into production, with 1948 sets produced by Bowman and Leaf, along with some smaller issues like Topps Magic Photo, Swell Sports Thrills, and the like.  Many of these sets featured black and white photography, and many did not approach the level of quality that card-producing companies would reach just a few years later.

Amidst the approaching postwar boom, Eureka Sportstamps were one of the most attractive baseball issues.  The stamps themselves were issued on team sheets measuring 7 1/2 x 10″, which could then be broken into individual stamps to be affixed in a stamp album that contained additional biographical info on each player.  Featuring only National League players (along with the NL president and the commissioner of baseball), the Eureka set contained sixteen Hall of Famers among the 200 subjects featured.

Initially a thinly-traded issue due to its scarcity (and possibly due to a lack of AL players), the set is beginning to grow in popularity as collectors discover its beauty and difficulty.  Intended to be affixed in an album, today they are frequently found torn, with back damage or missing glue.  The challenge of assembling a set – or even individual cards – in high grade has helped increase the value of complete sets or large lots of these cards.  Indeed, a complete high-grade set recently sold at auction for nearly $4,000 – considerably higher than the Standard Catalog‘s price estimate of $900.

Our October auction will feature a single lot of 25 high-grade PSA examples from the set, an excellent starter lot for someone willing to take on the challenge.  Featuring a number of low-population stamps, the lot includes one PSA 10, eight PSA 9s, and sixteen PSA 8s – a perfect way to get a collector started on the quest to assemble a complete set of this obscure but beautiful regional postwar issue.

Please note that the stamp album depicted in this entry is not included in the lot – it’s simply here to show interested parties how the stamps were intended to be used.

1952 Bowman Large Football

Here are two high-grade Hall of Fame rookie cards from the beautiful 1952 Bowman Large football set:  Giants’ running back/receiver Frank Gifford, and Cardinals/Rams/Lions/Eagles running back/receiver Ollie Matson.

Matson, who was jointly awarded Rookie of the Year in 1952 and was a six-time Pro Bowler, was inducted into the pro football Hall of Fame in 1972.  A two-time Olympic medalist in 1952 (he won the bronze in the 400-meter run and a silver in the 4×400-meter relay), Matson’s 12,799 all-purpose yards were second only to Jim Brown at the time of his retirement in 1966.

Gifford, perhaps known better for his Monday Night Football broadcasts with Howard Cosell and Don Meredith or for his celebrity wife Kathie Lee, won the NFL Most Valuable Player award in 1956.  Despite losing nearly two seasons due to injury, Gifford made eight trips tot he Pro Bowl and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.

As of this writing, PSA has graded just eight cards higher than the Gifford, despite the Gifford having the most examples graded of any card in the set.  The Matson, one of the difficult high number series, has had just one card graded higher than the Matson.

Among the keys to this popular and beautiful set of football cards, the Gifford and Matson will be offered individually among the football section of our inaugural auction this October.

Max Stein Postcards

We’re thrilled to offer a small grouping of Max Stein postcards.

Prewar baseball postcards are growing in popularity, likely because of the vivid images and sharp photography many boast.  This rare issue, produced between 1909 and 1916 by the Max Stein company of Chicago, featured images of many types of subjects (actors, boxers, etc.) features 25 baseball images that are highly sought after by prewar baseball collectors.

Pictured are two Hall of Famers – Joe Tinker and John McGraw, both graded VG by SGC.  Relatively unseen by grading companies (SGC has graded just 34 cards in total from this set, while PSA has only graded 6), the Tinker is the only copy that his been graded.  A total of six McGraws have been graded.

We will also be offering a beautiful Ping Bodie (graded SGC 50, the only copy to have been graded by any company), and a Cubs Players card featuring Ward Miller, Wilbur Goode, Mike Mitchell, Bill Clymer, and Wildfire Schulte from 1913 (graded SGC 20 due to erased writing on the face of the postcard, but otherwise EX).  None of the four have been postally used.

To give multiple prewar type collectors a shot at winning one of these rare postcards, we will be offering the four cards individually in our October auction.

What good would a vintage sports auction be without Don Mossi?

Don Mossi.  Hero of the vintage sports hobby.

Mossi pitched 12 seasons, with Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago and Kansas City.  He won 101 games with a 3.43 lifetime ERA, topping out in 1959 with 17 wins against 9 losses with the 4th place Tigers.  The one-time All Star never threw more than 240 innings in a season, never led the league in wins (though he finished in the top 10 twice), never won a Cy Young.  He pitched in three World Series games, all with the legendary 1954 Indians, but never won a Series game.

Don Mossi was a respectable pitcher, but never a star.  Yet the vintage baseball hobby loves him.  Why?

It’s the ears.

Don Mossi had a majestic set of ears, the kind you’ll never forget.  And they’re on full display on this 1958 Topps card, which we are pleased as punch to be able to offer you in our inaugural sale.  Because it really just wouldn’t be a vintage sports auction without Don Mossi.

Oh, we’ve got football.

While we started off our blog with lots and lots of baseball, make no mistake: Love of the Game Auctions is by no means a baseball-only company.

Our first auction will also feature some of the most sought-after football cards in the hobby, including a group of high-grade 1948 Leaf football, led by this gorgeous example of HOF offensive lineman George Connor’s first card.  The Connor, which has a PSA-graded population of just sixteen examples (with only one higher), has seen recent sales as high as $2,400.

The 1948 Leaf set is popular among collectors due to being the first color football set of the postwar era, the availability of a host of color variations, as well as containing a high concentration of Hall of Famers in the set. Well-centered ’48 Leafs are particularly tough, and our selection of five high-grade rarities each host exceptional centering, as well as image clarity, color, and corners.

The set was issued in two series, #1-49 and #50-98, the second series much more scarce than the first.  Our grouping of five high-grade ’48 Leafs also include two of the scarce high number series – #58 Art Weiner (PSA 7.5 ) and the condition scarce #84 Earl Girard (PSA 8, pop. 4 with none higher).  Both cards are stunning in their color and clarity, as you can see:

The lot is rounded out by an exceptional copy of the #2 card in the set, Steve Suhey (PSA 8, pop. 9 with 2 higher), and an extraordinarily high-grade example of #30 Paul Governali (PSA 8.5, pop 3 among three variations, with just three higher).

Like its baseball counterpart, 1948 Leaf football is a fascinating set, filled with variations and Hall of Famers, and is difficult to obtain in high grade.  Our selection of Leafs, which will be offered individually, can serve as an excellent kickoff to a high-grade set, a great improvement to an existing set, a beautiful addition to a type collection, or in the case of the Connor, an excellent addition to a Hall of Fame rookies set.

Stay tuned, as we have a beautiful selection of football cards in our inaugural auction, which we will be previewing for you in this space.

1903 E107 Ollie Pickering

The Breisch Williams E107 set of 1903 is important because it was the first major baseball card set of the 20th Century.  Featuring sharp, black-and-white photographic images, the E107 set contains 147 subjects and has become a popular set among advanced collectors due to the number of rookie cards of Hall of Famers, along with its scarcity.

High-grade E107s are virtually nonexistent.  With a current graded population of 713 between PSA and SGC, just 38 have graded EX or better, with a scant two cards grading above an unqualified NM.  E107s are frequently damaged and torn, with front and back images suffering from wrinkling, staining, paper loss, and scrapbook damage.  In fact, more than half the graded population of E107s have been assessed at a grade of 2 or lower.

Given that, this example of Ollie Pickering is virtually pristine for the issue; well-centered with a crisp, clear image and only rounded corners and some mild staining along the top left border taking away from what is an otherwise beautiful specimen.  Indeed, this is the highest-graded Pickering available in an SGC holder, with only a PSA 5Q achieving a higher numeric grade, with the aforementioned qualifier.  The card is of the blank-backed variety.

It’s really, really difficult for me to objectively look at certain cards without letting hyperbole creep into my description.  When I first held this card, my eyes widened over just how perfect and unblemished the image appears, as E107s are so frequently damaged.  This is a gorgeous example of a very scarce card, one that any type collector would be thrilled to have in his/her collection.  We’re pleased to be able to offer this in our inaugural auction.

1933 George C. Miller Dizzy Dean

Many prewar baseball card collectors consider the early 1930s to be the “golden age” of card collecting; notably 1933, when several of the most popular and lasting sets of cards were issued.

In 1933, George C. Miller & Co. of Boston produced a 32-card set of the day’s stars, which received limited distribution at the time of issue.  Youngsters purchasing the candy (and thus the cards) could complete the 32-card set, and then redeem the cards for a “Fielder’s Mit, regulation American or National League Baseball or 1 Grandstand Seat to any American or National League Game (except World’s Series) at any Park.”  The cards would be returned, cancelled, with the prize the redeemer selected.

Cards were cancelled by the company in one of two ways – a series of hole punches (I’ve seen them in small, circular punches, or multiple punches forming the shape of a diamond), or by slicing off the bottom of the card with a scissor or blade.  As a result, many of the surviving R300 George C Miller cards are damaged with such hole punches, adding a level of scarcity to an already difficult set.  Indeed, only a half dozen or so complete sets have been assembled, most auctioned off in their entirety over the past few years.

Dizzy Dean was one of the great baseball heroes of the 1930s, leading the famed St. Louis Cardinals “Gas House Gang” to the 1934 championship with near-superhuman pitching (he pitched in 50 regular-season games, going 30-7 with a 2.66 ERA across 311 innings, and then pitched 26 innings in three World Series games against the Tigers).  His George C. Miller card is among his most desirable, and is one of the earliest cards featuring Dean.

This uncancelled card is well-centered with strong color and surface quality.  The back is clean but is slightly marred by the ink transfer that is common to this colorful issue, as wet sheets stacked atop each other occasionally bled ink onto the backs of the adjacent sheets.  The top right corner has a very feint crease, more visible on the back than the front, keeping the card out of an EX holder.

SGC has graded this card VG-EX condition, making it the highest-graded example of 16 R300 Deans graded by that company.  Their competitor, PSA, has graded 17, including three at the EX level, two at the EX-MT level, and one at the NMT level, putting this card in the 73rd percentile of all graded Deans.  Over the past several years, similar examples routinely sell in the $2,000 range.

This is one of the cleanest, highest-graded examples of one of the most popular Hall of Famers in a scarce and desirable set.  We’re pleased to feature the 1933 R300 Dizzy Dean in our inaugural auction this fall.

And we’re off.

The first consignment to make it in the door was this lovely 1887 N690 Kalamazoo Bat card of Joseph Mulvey.

I can’t imagine there’s a card that better describes the type of auction that we’re trying to deliver to collectors.  The phrase “scarce and desirable” is used often in this hobby, but among prewar card collectors, there are few sets to which that phrase is better applied.  Issued between 1886 and 1887, the “K-Bats” are CDV-sized photographic cards on heavy cardboard.  While some have advertising printed on the back, this particular K-Bat is of the blank backed variety.

Tough 19th Century cards are often the passion of advanced, long-time collectors that prefer their cards ungraded in their collection.  However, we acknowledge that grading company population reports, while never accurate enough with issues like this to be “bible,” are an excellent barometer of relative scarcity.  As such, we’ll report that between PSA and SGC, only 201 cards have been graded in total, with Mulvey represented by a total of 10 different graded examples.

Of the graded examples of the Mulvey card, only one of the 10 cards has graded higher – a PSA 5 (the only Mulvey graded by PSA).  This particular Mulvey is the highest-graded example encapsulated by SGC, though there are two others at this level as well.

The scarcity of Kalamazoo Bats cards, coupled with their desirability among advanced collectors, means that they don’t trade hands very often.  Assembling a complete set is nearly impossible, with just one registered set between the PSA and SGC registries combined (an SGC-registered set that is just 51% complete).  As such, even lower grade examples routinely sell for several thousand dollars.

Beyond all those stats, though, this is just a beautiful, beautiful card.  The image, as you can see, is a crisp, clean image of the Philadelphia third baseman, posed in his defensive position, glove on hand, as if awaiting a ground ball.  The photograph itself is in fantastic shape, with a hint of staining on the image adjacent to Mulvey’s right shoulder.  The cardboard mount is clean, and the blank back is undamaged.

We are proud and excited to offer such an excellent piece of baseball history in the inaugural Love of the Game Auction.