Summer, 2015 Premier Auction - Closes August 8, 2015
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 8/9/2015

The N173 Old Judge issue has long been one of our favorite cabinet card series.  Issued by Goodwin & Co between 1888 and 1889 as a premium, the cards were available by exchanging coupons found in Old Judge or Dogs Head cigarettes, and featured large, black-and-white photographs (often the same poses found in the N172 Old Judge cards), typically pasted to pale yellow cardboard mounts with gold leaf lettering and blank backs.

As is the case with most cabinet cards, the N173 issue is condition sensitive, often found with considerable wear, scrapbook remnants on the reverse, or pinholes where the cards were tacked to the walls of young 19th Century baseball fans.  For most collectors, the idea that the N173 mounts were constructed of yellow cardboard with gold leaf lettering is simply the stuff of legend, parroted back from Standard Catalog or Old Cardboard descriptions but never truly experienced, as they are typically well-worn and toned, the gold leaf lettering faded with age.

This example, however, is different.  Featuring Mike "King" Kelly, one of the most popular players of his era, the card is simply extraordinary.  Extraordinary enough, in fact, that after receiving the consignment, we felt compelled to share it with several Old Judge experts to simply verify its authenticity - it's such an attractive, well-preserved card that it's almost too good to be true.  Except it is, indeed, true.

Graded EX/NM 80 by SGC, the numerical grade seems to exist solely because, well, it's impossible for a high-grade example to exist, right?  Yet the photo quality is virtually impeccable, with unbelievable contrast and just some slight hints of toning and wear near the top.  Some extremely minor staining near Kelly's bat is mentioned here simply for the purposes of accuracy but by no means detracts from the card's extraordinary appeal.  The mount is indeed yellow, the gold leaf accents vibrant and bright.  The reverse is a stunningly clean yellow.  Best we can tell, the EX/NM grade is a result of minor wear to the corners of the mount, and perhaps the aforementioned staining.

What is, indeed, most remarkable about this cabinet is the image contrast.  The stitching in Kelly's collar, his belt buckle, the rings in his bat, the definition of his fingers, the eyelets of his shoes - all features of this image we have barely noticed in the past, largely because the images is so often faded or worn.  Simply an incredible example, the likes of which we may never see again.

Population Data
SGC Population: 14 total graded, 2 at this level, 1 higher
PSA Population: 1 total graded, 0 at this level, 0 higher

Astonishing 1889-89 N173 Old Judge King Kelly (HOF) - SGC EX/NM 80Astonishing 1889-89 N173 Old Judge King Kelly (HOF) - SGC EX/NM 80
Astonishing 1889-89 N173 Old Judge King Kelly (HOF) - SGC EX/NM 80
Click above for larger image.
Bidding
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $10,000
Final prices include buyers premium.: $14,040
Number Bids: 3
Auction closed on Sunday, August 9, 2015.
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