Lot # 62: 1898-1899 National Copper Plate Co. Portraits Vic Willis Rookie

Starting Bid: $200.00

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Extremely rare and significant example of Vic Willis' true rookie card from the highly regarded National Copper Plate Company set issued in 1898-1899. If these portraits look similar to those issued by The Sporting News during that same time period, it is because they basically are, save for the The Sporting News name printed at the top. The National Copper Plate Company produced the player portraits for The Sporting News, which were issued free with each copy of the paper. However, at the same time, the National Copper Plate Company also sold the portraits (specially produced without advertising for The Sporting News) in a string-bound portfolio of fifty. Offered is one of those portraits produced by the company featuring a key Hall of Famer, of which (as issued) has had two holes punched along the left side to allow it to be bound together. Their method of issue and the thin paper stock on which they are printed make these unusual and striking premiums particularly susceptible to damage. The Willis premium features the future Hall of Famer as pitcher for the Boston Beaneaters. The premium's central image is outstanding, and only a few peripheral flaws, such as a couple small edge tears and chips, keep it from technically grading highly. The National Copper Plate Company set, designed with a biography on the reverse exactly like traditional card issues produced in later years, is much more "card-like" than most other premium issues. In fact, of special significance is the fact that National Copper Plate Company is one of the very first sets featuring Major League baseball players that is designed with biographies on the reverse at all, a design element that in the years to follow came to be a standard defining feature of many baseball-card sets. Not all collectors recognize premiums as cards due to their size and thin stock, but for those who do not make this distinction, the National Copper Plate Company premium of Vic Willis without question is the earliest issue for this Hall of Famer and represents his rookie card. Dimensions: 8.75 x 11 inches. Reserve $200.

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