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Unissued Willie Mays Prototype Card Collection Including Twenty Signed Examples (277 cards)
Starting Bid - $2,000, Sold For - $2,350
Sy Berger’s personal collection included many rarities and no small number of surprises. Offered here is one of the most interesting discoveries made during our cataloging process: 277 Willie Mays cards, twenty of which are signed, and 154 of which were never issued. Six different card issues are represented here, with many duplicates for each. Fleer produced five of the six cards in 2001, while Topps issued the sixth in 2002. The one thing that all six varieties of cards in this collection have in common is that each was designed to feature an authentic Willie Mays signature on the front. What makes these cards so intriguing is the fact that not only are most of them unsigned, but three varieties were never included in their respective issue. Therefore, most collectors have never before seen three of the six different cards offered here and a fourth has probably never been found in its unsigned state (outside of this collection). Sy Berger was Willie Mays’ agent for various business ventures for many years, so it’s not surprising to find these cards in his possession (he was obviously responsible for overseeing Mays’ signing of each card). What is surprising is the fact that he bothered to save the unsigned examples. Fortunately he did, and they are offered here. The complete inventory of Willie Mays cards in this collection is as follows: 1) 2002 Topps Heritage Real One Autograph Card #RO-WM. Ten cards total, all signed on the front in black marker (grading “10”) by Willie Mays as issued and each in Mint condition. Mays is one of twenty-nine players included in this special autograph set. While it is not known exactly how many Willie Mays autographed cards were actually issued, the Real One Autograph Cards were randomly distributed in packs of Topps 2002 Heritage Cards at a ratio of 1:180. The Willie Mays card is the key card in the set and lists for $200 in the 2008 Standard Catalog. 2) 2001 Fleer Focus ROY Collection Signed Memorabilia Card (no card number). Ten cards total, all signed on the front in black marker (grading “10”) by Willie Mays and each in Mint condition. This card includes an actual swatch of cloth from a Willie Mays game-worn jersey. Fifty-one signed Willie Mays cards were included in this set, each of which was hand-numbered on the front. None of the signed cards offered here are hand-numbered; therefore they were never issued and in this form are heretofore unknown in the hobby. The standard-issue signed Mays card from this set lists for $200 in the 2008 Standard Catalog. 3) 2001 Fleer Tradition Stitches in Time Autographs Card (no card number). 103 cards total, NONE of which are signed by Mays, each in Mint condition. Mays was one of seven former Negro League players featured in this autographed set. This card features a blank area along the front base for inclusion of the autograph and in that way differs from the standard 2001 Fleer Tradition Stitches in Time cards (in which Mays is also included). It is not known how many signed Mays cards were included in the regular issue or why these cards went unsigned (the box they’re housed in indicates in writing where Mays was supposed to sign each card). We believe that Fleer's bankruptcy may be related to these (and other Fleer cards offered here) not being signed or issued. 4) 2001 Fleer Showcase Awards Showcase Autograph Card (no card number, never issued). Twenty-seven cards total, NONE of which are signed by Mays, each in Mint condition. This card, which includes an actual swatch of cloth from a Willie Mays game-worn jersey, was never issued in the set. According to The Standard Catalog, twenty-six players were included in the set, with twenty-five sets issued. 5) 2001 Fleer Genuine Names of the Game – Autographed Card (no card number, never issued). 102 cards total, NONE of which are signed by Mays, each in Mint condition. This card, which includes an actual swatch of cloth from a Willie Mays game-worn jersey, was never issued in the set and is exceedingly rare. Prior to the discovery of these 102 cards, only two other examples had ever surfaced. According to The Standard Catalog, twenty-two players were included in the set; however, it is not known how many cards were distributed for each player. 6) 2001 E-X Behind the Numbers Autograph Card (no card number, never issued, produced by Fleer). Twenty-five cards total, NONE of which are signed by Mays, each in Mint condition. This card, which includes an actual swatch of cloth from a Willie Mays game-worn jersey, was never issued in the set and is therefore quite rare. According to The Standard Catalog, forty-two players were included in the set, with the number of cards issued for each player varying from two to eighty-eight. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Total 277 cards. Reserve $2,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $2,350
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