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1909-1911 E254 Colgan's Chips Near-Complete Set (280 of 304)
Starting Bid - $10,000, Sold For - $32,313
This outstanding collection of 280 different E254 Colgan’s Chips “Stars of the Diamond” represents one of the largest and most advanced collections of these classic and unusual cards ever assembled, let alone offered at auction at a single time. This is an astounding collection! To complete a set of all 289 different cards (not including additional lettering variations that increase the total number for a master set to approximately 304 cards) is a monumental collecting feat that has never been accomplished. This extraordinary collection comes close. This is the most complete E254 collection that has ever been offered at auction (to the best of our knowledge, in the history of collecting), and is by far the most complete collection that we have ever seen. While we do not know the prior history of its assembly (all but a few cards in the collection were purchased at a single time years ago by our consignor), we have no doubt that this near-set was long ago assembled by one of the legendary greats of card collecting. A collection like this does not just happen to come together by chance. There are only a hundred or so relatively common cards in the Colgan's Chips set (we really don't know the exact number since no formal study of the varying rarities of cards in the set has ever been done, but the next largest collection after this group that we can find ever offered in auction records is only 165 different cards). Fortunately, the more common subjects include some of the biggest stars, such as Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner. One theory we have heard to possibly explain the varying rarities of cards in the set is that, because Colgan's were issued over a three-year period (1909-1911), the more common subjects were issued continuously during this span, while rarer subjects were issued for shorter periods. Some may have been issued regionally. Whatever the explanation, many of the rarer cards (and there are many) approach impossible-to-find status, and this astounding collection somehow has virtually all of them. Case in point: The Old Cardboard website has long been putting together a photographic gallery of the E254 Colgan's Chips set, borrowing images from the collections of the most advanced longtime collectors of the set. The resources of hundreds of years of Colgan's Chips collecting are represented in the creation of this ambitious online gallery of E254 Colgan's Chips images. Eventually, this hobby-wide collaborative effort resulted in the assembly of images of all but two extreme rarities: the team variation cards of Bris Lord-Philadelphia and Jack Rowan -Philadelphia. No one had them. Both of these rare cards are included in this collection! Images have been provided to finally complete the online gallery of E254 Colgan's Chips. These are just two of many extremely rare cards in the set, but the story speaks volumes. This is a truly extraordinary advanced collection of Colgan's Chips that is an extremely rare, near once-in-a-lifetime collecting opportunity.
Because they are so unusual and not traditional rectangular cards, E254s have been overlooked by many collectors. The more common cards in the set (which are not really common compared to most 1910-era cards; they are just common relative to the many rarer cards in the set) represent one of the most outstanding values of all baseball candy issues. There is no consensus and little attention has been given regarding values of rarer cards in the set, simply because they are rare, the relative rarities of cards in the set have not been documented. It is truly "no man's land" for assessing value, not unlike collecting N172 Old Judges twenty-five years ago before all the nuances of varying rarities had been fully documented.
The E254 Colgan's Chip-289-card set includes notable variations and team changes (this does not include lettering variations), representing 226 different players; many obscure players are included, among them many players that appear in few (in some cases no) other sets, which is part of its great appeal to advanced collectors. In addition to featuring players from the Major Leagues, 45% of the set features players from eight different minor leagues. The set includes nineteen Hall of Famers, a modest number for a card issue of this size.
Condition varies but is a distant secondary factor for a collection set such as this. While not in high grade by PSA or SGC standards, the collection as a whole presents beautifully (images of the entire collection are provided online) and there are many condition highlights. An approximate condition breakdown follows: 35% range from Vg to Ex-Mt, 50% Fr to Gd-Vg, 15% lesser. Hall of Famers (21 cards): The following Hall of Famers (seventeen different out of nineteen in the set, only Evers and McCarthy are missing, plus four variations for a total of twenty-one) are included: #13 Baker (Fr), 26 Bresnahan (Vg), 35 Chance (Fr-Gd), 38a Clarke (without H), 42 Collins (Fr), 41 Cobb (front Ex, paper loss to reverse); 42 E. Collins (Fr-Gd); 74a Flick (Cleveland; red mark on back, otherwise Ex-Mt), 93a Hooper (Boston Na’l; Vg-Ex), 93b Hooper (Boston Am. L.; red mark on back, otherwise Ex), 99 Jennings (Vg-Ex/Ex), 103 Joss (Fr-Gd), 105 Kelley (Ex-Mt), 134 McGinnity (Pr-Fr), 196 Speaker (Vg), 209 Tinker (Fr), 213a Waddell (St. Louis; Gd), 213b Waddell (Minn.; Pr), 213c Waddell (Newark; Gd-Vg), 214 Wagner (with H; pencil writing on back, Gd-Vg), and 228 Young (Gd-Vg).
Assembling a list of exactly what is missing for completion from this near-set is difficult because many are variations relating to lettering only, and, just as noted in The Standard Catalog, it is not certain that all of these variations truly exist. (Our belief is that some do not, and years ago were mistakenly added to the checklist due to the E254 set's similarity to the E270-1 Red Border and E270-2 Tin Tops sets also issued by Colgan's Chips.) E254s are unnumbered. According to published checklists, the cards missing for completion are as follows (identifying card numbers provided by The Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards checklist): #16c, 38b, 41a, 67, 72a, 74b, 82b, 95b, 129, 138a, 145b, 195b, 214, 221, plus 10 additional checklisted cropping/letter variations: #13, 14, 70, 77, 94, 106, 136, 151, and 200. While the basic set of 289 different known cards in the E254 set has remained constant for over ten years and is probably complete, it is always possible that additional lettering or cropping variations could be discovered (or that some of the above-listed missing lettering variation cards will someday be determined not to exist and be dropped from checklists).
This is a very clean, carefully assembled, exciting collection of one of card collecting's most exotic issues. This virtually complete E254 set represents an almost impossible collecting feat, and is a fascinating collection that would be a worthy addition to even the most advanced vintage-card collection. Total 280 cards. Reserve $10,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $32,313
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