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Lot # 26 (of 1866)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1889-1890 E. R. Williams Base Ball Game Playing Card Complete Set (52): #1 PSA Registry! (7.72 GPA)

Starting Bid - $5,000, Sold For - $14,220

Presented is by far the finest complete set of 1889 E. R. Williams Base Ball Game cards in the collecting world! This is the number-one All-Time Finest set on the PSA Registry. The average grade is 7.72. It would be hard to imagine that a finer set could ever possibly exist. We're not sure exactly how this set even came to be assembled, it is so much better than any other E. R. Williams set. We assume there must be a story to explain its survival in such unbelievable high-grade condition. If there is, this story has long since been lost to time. Our best guess is that when this set was purchased, the box was simply never opened and the cards were never touched by human hands. All we can say for sure is that the cards are here and this is by far the best E. R. Williams set in the universe. It is a miracle set! REA had the privilege of presenting this set previously as Lot #86 in the 2011 auction where it realized a final price of $16,450. It has been consigned to this auction directly from the buyer at that sale.

Over the years we have seen very few complete sets of this rare and extremely attractive nineteenth-century game-card set, and fewer still surviving in virtually perfect condition. The E. R. Williams game-card set is comprised of nineteen cards featuring color portraits of thirty-eight different players (two per card), and thirty-three additional game cards (which have a baseball design but do not feature players). Included are eleven Hall of Famers. The E. R. Williams set is one of the rarest and most highly prized of all baseball playing-cards sets and all pre-1900 baseball issues. It is also one of the few pre-1900 baseball-card issues produced in color. All the greatest stars of the era are represented, including Hall of Famers Buck Ewing, Cap Anson, Dan Brouthers, Roger Connor, Charles Comiskey, John Clarkson, Tim Keefe, Mike Kelly, Pud Galvin, John Ward, and Mickey Welch. Dummy Hoy is among the non-Hall of Famers included in the set. Each of the nineteen player cards from this world-class complete set have been professionally graded by PSA. Fifteen of these cards are the highest-ever PSA-graded examples. Two additional cards have only one example graded higher. The PSA grades are as follows: Four MINT 9: Anson/Ewing (HOF), Carpenter/Carroll, Glasscock/Tucker, and Hoy/Reilly. Eight NM-MT 8: Connor/Comiskey (HOF), Corkhill/Fogarty, Denny/Tiernan, Foutz/Kelly (HOF), Griffin/McKean, Irwin/Williamson, Myers/Stricker, and Pfeffer/Wolf. Two NM 7: Buffington/Caruthers and Galvin/Orr (HOF). Five EX-MT 6: Brouthers/Latham (HOF), Clarkson/Keefe (HOF), King/Tener, Ramsey/Weyhning, and Ward/Welch (HOF). The balance of the cards (the thirty-three cards that feature baseball designs but do not feature players) grade similarly and are Nr/Mt or better. This is an extraordinary set, by far the finest and highest-grade complete set in existence of this extremely rare and significant issue.

REA's 2011 auction also featured a newly discovered "steel engraving" style E. R. Williams set, which varies slightly from the offered set. We believe that the "steel engraving" (portraits without color) style set dates from 1889, and the color E. R. Williams set may actually date from 1890. The fact that the E. R. Williams game is very prominently advertised in the center of the official 1890 New York Players League game programs is supportive of this theory. It is interesting to note that the E. R. Williams game card advertisements feature a woodcut portrait of Buck Ewing endorsing the set, and announce that the set is available for sale "on the grounds" and priced at $1 (a very significant sum at the time). It is very possible that this set was purchased at a Players League game in New York in 1890! While the E. R. Williams set has not received the attention of many other pre-1900 issues, possibly because it is not a tobacco issue, it is a very rare set, and is both far rarer and more substantial than many of the most popular issues of the 1880s. This is a spectacular set! Total: 52 cards. Reserve $5,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $14,220

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