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1950-1951 Toleteros Joshua Gibson SGC VG 40
Starting Bid - $5,000.00, Sold For - $18,560.00
Graded VG 40 by SGC. Magnificent example of one of the rarest and most highly prized of all postwar cards: the 1950-1951 Toleteros Josh Gibson. This is a card which is so rare its existence has been documented only during the past several years, and its significance as Josh Gibson's only known standard card issue has propelled it in this very short time to being one of the most well known baseball cards in the collecting world. Many collectors concentrate on collecting Hall of Famers. Josh Gibson has always presented a problem for these collectors because for decades he was simply not found to appear in any card sets. The discovery of his inclusion in the 180-card 1950-1951 Toleteros set, the third and final year in which this company issued cards in Puerto Rico during the Puerto Rican winter league season, was momentous. There was finally a card issue featuring the legendary Josh Gibson, the greatest slugging star of the Negro Leagues. Similar in spirit to the 1940 Play Ball card of Shoeless Joe Jackson and the 1948-49 Leaf card of Babe Ruth in that this card was not issued during Gibson's playing career, this card is unique and of great significance in that there really are no equivalent alternatives. Babe Ruth had hundreds of cards issued of him, dating back to his earliest days as a minor leaguer with Baltimore in 1914, and there are many different cards issued of virtually every Hall of Famer of the twentieth century. The nature and economic realities of the Negro Leagues, however, have created several special challenges for card collectors. Of these, no player is of a greater stature than Josh Gibson. Even Satchel Paige can be found in the 1949 Bowman and 1953 Topps sets. While some may think it is almost inconceivable that the most celebrated stars of the Negro Leagues were not honored with trading cards at the peaks of their careers, it must be remembered that it was a different time and world, and the issuing of cards needs an economic incentive and rationale in any era. This incentive simply did not exist to justify the issuing of cards of many Negro Leaguers. This is actually very much in keeping with the harsh economic realities of the Negro Leagues, and the fact that this affects even the greatest Negro League stars such as Josh Gibson speaks volumes about the significance of this card, issued in Puerto Rico in 1950, in tribute to the then-recently deceased legend. Gibson, a huge star in Puerto Rico, played his final season there in 1946. He died of a brain hemorrhage in early 1947 at the age of 35, although it is well documented that Satchel Paige, Ted Page, and all of his teammates were certain that he really died of a broken heart because he was not chosen to be the first black player to break the color barrier in the majors. According to Toleteros card expert Ryan Christoff, approximately twelve examples of the Gibson card are known to exist. The card is very harshly graded by SGC at VG 40, and in fact appears to be in Excellent condition with just the lightest hint of corner wear. Extremely close examination reveals a light tape stain at the top of the card which is the sole reason for the downgrade. Bright, fresh, and perfectly clean, it is otherwise in strong Excellent condition. Also of note is the fact that the image quality on this card can vary, and the image quality of this example is extremely strong, far better than most others known, with extremely strong colors and perfect registration. This is an outstanding example of this important rarity. We are not placing an estimate on the card simply because it has been known to exist for a relatively short time and is so rare that only a couple have ever yet actually appeared at auction. We believe that this is the first time this card has ever appeared at auction when it has not been offered by the owner. The 2006 Standard Catalog lists the Gibson at a value of $75,000 in Near Mint condition, $35,000 in Excellent condition, and $22,500 in Very Good condition. Reserve $5,000. Estimate (Open). SOLD FOR $18,560.00
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