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1948-1951 Toleteros Puerto Rican Cards (594) Including 1950-1951 Toleteros Joshua Gibson
Starting Bid - $5,000.00, Sold For - $26,437.50
Addendum: Two album pages in the 1949-50 album have thirty-seven player signatures including Hall of Famers Leon Day and Willard Brown. We have added images of these pages online. LOA James Spence/JSA.
Presented is an extraordinary newly discovered original collection of 594 different Puerto Rican cards comprised of near-sets of all four different "Toleteros" sets. When we were presented with this extremely substantial collection, the first order of business, of course, was to check for the inclusion of the legendary rarity Josh Gibson from the 1950-1951 Toleteros set. Being such an extremely substantial near-complete original Toleteros collection which was totally unpicked over, and which we were told had literally been flown to the United States from Puerto Rico within hours of being brought to our office, the inclusion of the legendary Gibson card was certainly a real possibility. Not unlike finding a Wagner in the midst of a fresh collection of T206s, there it was: a newly discovered example of the most valuable and significant of all Toleteros cards, the 1950-1951 Josh Gibson! The front of the card has a strong Excellent appearance; a few ink marks and remnants from long-ago being glued into a scrapbook and later carefully removed appear on the blank reverse. This newly discovered example is one of only approximately twelve 1950-1951 Toleteros Josh Gibson cards known to exist. The Toletaros sets feature players from the Puerto Rican Winter League from 1948 to 1951, and are particularly significant as they feature many players who appear in few or no other card sets. Included are many Negro League stars, as well as many Major Leaguers who played in the Puerto Rican Winter League during the off-season. All but a handful of the cards in this collection (fourteen to be exact) are mounted in Toleteros albums, as intended. It is our understanding that these cards can be removed by a professional if desired. In addition to Josh Gibson, there are literally dozens of other extremely significant cards in the collection, including virtually ALL of the most important stars and Hall of Famers which make these sets so significant to advanced collectors. Some of the most important and valuable additional cards included in the collection are Hall of Famers Hilton Smith (2 cards), Willard Brown (3 cards), and Leon Day. Please Note: No Ray Brown is included as listed in the printed catalog. This was an error.
The collection is comprised of the following: 1) 1948-1949 Toleteros (123 of 168 cards in the set): Eugene Baker, Dan Bankhead, Willard Brown, Francisco Coimbre, Eugene Collins, Johnny Davis, Piper Davis, Luke Easter, Wilmer Fields, Ruben Gomez, Roberto Griffith, Canena Marquez, Alonso Perry, George Scales, Ken Sears, Hilton Smith, John Ford Smith, Bob Thurman, Quincy Trouppe, Tetelo Vargas, and many more. This was the first of three annual "Toleteros" issues related to the Puerto Rican Winter League. The cards measure 1.5 x 2.25 inches and feature black-and-white portrait images of each player on the front. Printed in black text, the back of the cards read "Toleteros" which roughly translates to "sluggers" and have a "play" designation for use in a baseball board-style game. As intended, all the cards have been mounted in an album, a very common practice with these cards as albums were issued specifically for that purpose. Without reference to the mounting, the cards technically range from Fair to Very Good, averaging Good, but have a pleasing appearance. Two cards have been removed from the album including Hilton Smith (tiny punch hole and minor back damage, but otherwise in Ex condition). 2) 1949-1950 Toleteros (173 of 216 cards in the set): Sammy Bankhead, Chester Brewer, Willard Brown, Tommy "Pee Wee" Butts, Perucho Cepeda, Buster Clarkson, Francisco Coimbre, Piper Davis, Leon Day, Howard Easterling, Wilmer Fields, Vic Harris, Jim Lamarque, Booker McDaniels, George Scales, Barney Serrell, Hilton Smith , John Ford Smith, Bob Thurman, Artie Wilson, etc. Similar in design to the prior year except the fronts are black and white and the text on the backs are printed in red. As intended, all the cards have been mounted in an album, a very common practice with these cards as albums were issued specifically for that purpose. Without reference to the mounting, the cards range in condition from Gd to Ex with a few exceptions (averaging Vg). Eight cards have been removed from the album including Willard Brown (grades Gd due to back damage and a couple of creases. 3) 1950-1951 Toleteros (142 of 193 cards in the set): Willard Brown, Buster Clarkson (Ponce), Francisco Coimbre, Johnny Davis (Mayaguez), Piper Davis, Luke Easter, Josh Gibson, Jim Gilliam, Luis Marquez, Alonso Perry, George Scales, Disk Seay, Bill Skowron, John Ford Smith, Bob Thurman, Tetelo Vargas, Curly Williams, Artie Wilson, etc. The last of the three card-issues relating to the Puerto Rican Winter League. Similar in format to the two previous sets except the photographs are colorized rather than black and white, and are slightly larger (1.75 x 2.5 inches), with blank backs. Just like the prior two sets, the cards are mounted in the specific album designed to hold the cards. Without reference to the mounting, the cards range in condition from Gd to Ex with a few exceptions (averaging Vg). Three cards have been removed from the album including Josh Gibson (minor back damage, but otherwise in solid Excellent condition). 4) 1950-1951 Toleteros "In Action" subset (156 of 180 cards in the set). This subset is mounted in the same album with the regular 1950-1951 Toleteros set. The album was originally designed to hold both sets. Without reference to the mounting, the cards range in condition from Gd to Ex with a few exceptions (averaging Vg). One card has been removed from the album. This is an extraordinary collection of these rare Puerto Rican cards. In fact, it is the largest group to ever be offered at auction as a collection in the history of the hobby. Prior to just several years ago, only a few sample cards from each of these rare issues were known, and price guides were not even able to provide complete checklists. The sets include many Negro League stars and Major Leaguers. Although the cards are mounted on album pages (Note: the albums themselves each have flaws including loose pages), they could be removed by a professional conservator if desired. Total 594 cards. Reserve $5,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $26,437.50
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