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1887 N172 Old Judge Advertising Store Display Poster

Starting Bid - $60,000, Sold For - $112,575

Extremely rare 1887 Old Judge Store Advertising Display Poster featuring twenty-four stars whose images appear in the first widely distributed tobacco baseball-card set ever produced: the N172 Goodwin & Company Old Judge tobacco-card set. This is one of baseball-card collecting's greatest treasures. In Excellent condition and never before publicly offered, it is one of just a handful of N172 Old Judge baseball-card point-of-sale store advertising displays known to exist and one of the finest of all nineteenth-century baseball display pieces. This is an item that is recognized at a glance - by the world's most advanced collectors and casual collectors alike - as one of the most important museum-quality pieces relating to baseball cards in existence. This advertising store display is a "miracle piece" that speaks for itself (which is fortuitous as it is one of the few items in the baseball card collecting world that leaves us speechless). Exactly how many have survived is not known with certainty, but we are aware of six, and not all of these few examples are in such stellar condition. Of the few examples known, several different varieties are represented (both with reference to the precise wording of the surrounding text and players represented). This is a particularly impressive example with reference to players. Six Hall of Famers (Tim Keefe, Jim “Orator” O’Rourke, Roger Connor, Sam Thompson, James “Pud” Galvin, and Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn) are among the twenty-five major stars from the N172 Old Judge set featured on the display, which hung in stores that sold tobacco and was designed to promote the cards that were inserted into packages of tobacco. This store display was purchased by our consignor in the early 1990s for $65,000 (when several then-newly discovered high-grade examples were discovered, literally doubling the known population of N172 Old Judge store displays, all of which were immediately purchased by advanced collectors) and has been stored in a safe-deposit box ever since. This is the first N172 Old Judge poster that REA has ever offered at auction, although Robert Edward Auctions did sell one privately in 1991. That example was sold for $100,000. This Old Judge display may be familiar to scholars as it is the very plate specimen, which appears on page 116 of The Photographic Baseball Cards of Goodwin & Company (1886-1890) by Jay Miller, Joe Gonsowski, and Richard Masson (please see REA's "links page" online for ordering information). "The Old Judge book" (as we call it for short) is the only place this display has ever been featured in print (until now). As can easily be seen, the store display has the appearance of an uncut sheet of Old Judge cards surrounded by advertising text. The Imperial cardboard backing mount with red bevel edge is considerably thicker and sturdier than that of an N172 Old Judge (or an N173 Old Judge cabinet, for that matter) and part of its remarkably high quality production quality. The two holes at the top are as-made and designed to thread a thin rope or yarn to hang the display in the tobacco store. The cards featured on the advertising display are the following: #508-3 Wood (Philadelphia), 332-3 Mulvey (Philadelphia), 165-3 Fogarty (Philadelphia), 204-1 Gunning (Philadelphia), 251-8 Keefe/Richardson (HOF, New York), 196-6 Gore (New York), 358-4 O'Rourke (HOF, New York), 88-4 Connor (HOF, New York), 124-2 Denny (Indianapolis), 218-2 Healey (Indianapolis), 94-1 Corcoran (Indianapolis), 456-2 Thompson (HOF, Detroit), 393-3 Rowe (Detroit), 384-1 Richardson (Detroit), 19-6 Barkley (Pittsburg), 177-3 Galvin (HOF, Pittsburg), 444-1 Sullivan (Chicago), 502-4 Williamson (Chicago), 59-2 Burns (Chicago), 356-1 O'Neill (Brown's Champions), 97-3 Crane (Washington), 53-1 Burdock (Boston), 288-4 Madden (Boston), and 377-5 Radbourn (HOF, Boston). This is an extremely rare collecting opportunity to acquire one of the most important museum-caliber nineteenth-century baseball card collecting memorabilia items in existence. Dimensions: 9-3/4 x 13-1/2 inches. Reserve $60,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $112,575

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