Offered is an amazing collection of thirty-nine different N172 Old Judges, composed exclusively of minor-league ball players. (The Major League players are being offered as a separate lot in this auction.) Issued by Goodwin & Company from 1887 to 1890, N172 Old Judges are universally recognized as the premier nineteenth-century baseball card set. This uncommonly large collection includes many scarce and rare cards (including Cudworth of Worcester, Buckenberger portrait, and two Denver Grizzlies). These cards originate from a new-to-the-hobby collection of nineteenth-century cards that had been carefully saved in the pages of a scrapbook for over a century. All the cards within this lot were carefully removed from the scrapbook by a professional conservator using deionized water. Four cards were submitted to SGC for grading with this information and SGC graded the cards as outlined in the composite below.
The collection consists of the following (organized by team): Columbus Solons (3 cards): #31-3 Bligh, 48-2 Buckenberger and 299-4 Mays (GOOD+ 2.5). Denver Grizzlies/Mountaineers (2 cards): #304-1 McClellan and 419-4 Silch. Des Moines Prohibitionists (4 cards): #3-1 Alexander, 82-4 Cody, 145-5 Emmerke (VG 3), and 424-2 Smith. Hamilton Mountaineers (1 card): #449-3 Schwartwood. Indianapolis Hoosiers (4 cards): #36-4 Boyle, 186-4 Getzein, 310-1 McGeachy, and 310-3 McGeachy. Kansas City Blues (4 cards): #56-1 Burns, 278-4 Long (VG 3), 292-3 Manning, and 436-2 Stearns (skinned). Milwaukee Brewers/Creams (7 cards): #1-1 Albert, 1-2 Albert (VG 3), 173-5 Fuller, 225-1 Herr, 265-2 Klusman, 326-3 Mills, and 402-2 Schildknecht. Minneapolis Millers (4 cards): #115-1 Daly, 137-3 Duke, 474-1 Vinton, and 490-5 West. Rochester Flour Cities (1 card): #460-4 Toole. Sioux City Corn Huskers (4 cards): #54-2 Burks, 221-3 Hellman, 241-3 Hungler, and 482-1 Weber. St. Joseph Clay Eaters (1 card): #266-2 Knell. St. Paul Apostles (3 cards): #290-2 Maines, 369-5 Pickett, and 466-2 Tuckerman. Worcester Grays (1 card): #104-3 Cudworth. (According to the comprehensive book The Photographic Baseball Cards of Goodwin & Company (1886-1890), commonly referred to as the "Old Judge Book," Cudworth is a particularly scarce subject in the entire N172 set, and is listed as among the "Top 100 Scarcest N172s.")
Condition: With reference to condition, collectors tend to be much more forgiving with Old Judges than with other vintage cards, let alone more recent issues. 36% of the cards range from Vg-Ex to Ex (including a couple slightly better), 31% range from Gd to Vg, and 33% grade lesser (including five with the team name scraped off). All the grades in the preceding composite are without reference to reverse flaws in the form of notations, ink stamps, adhered scrapbook paper, light paper loss, or glue marks, which affect a very large percentage of the blank backs and are so common and standard for Old Judges. There are so many cases when an Old Judge is technically in very low grade but is considered by collectors far superior to a high-grade example in terms of eye-appeal and desirability. In the old days, advanced collectors weren't concerned at all about whether there was glue, a little scrapbook paper, an ink stamp, or pencil notations on the backs of Old Judges. Just to have the card, hopefully with a quality image, was the whole point. Most, if not all, collectors interested in obtaining the entire Old Judge set today feel similarly. Groupings of this magnitude are not often encountered which makes this collection more noteworthy than one of similar size from other classic sets. This collection represents an extremely rare opportunity to acquire thirty-nine different cards from the highly desirable N172 Old Judge set. Total: 39 cards. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open).