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Lot # 53 (of 1866)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1887 Four Base Hits John Ward - One of Only Two Examples Known!

Starting Bid - $5,000, Sold For - $18,960

Presented is an exceedingly rare card of Hall of Famer John Ward from the Four Base Hits series. Four Base Hits are among the most legendary rarities of all baseball-card issues. In thirty-five years of specializing in nineteenth-century cards, Robert Edward Auctions has handled no more than seven or eight cards from this incredibly rare set (we are thrilled to be able to be present two in this auction). In the entire world we would be surprised if as many as twenty-five cards in total exist, and the actual number may in fact be far fewer. To the best of our knowledge, this Four Base Hits example is one of only two John Ward examples known to exist! Ward was not even checklisted when The Encyclopedia of Baseball Cards Volume 1 - 19th Century Cards by Lew Lipset was published in 1983. John Ward was first added to the Four Base Hits checklist when an example surfaced (along with several other Four Base Hits) in an exciting noncollector find in the early 1990s which was sold at REA.

The offered Four Base Hits example of Ward is encapsulated by SGC as "Authentic" and noted as "Restored." When first offered to the collecting world in 2005, the "Four Base Hits" ad at the bottom of this card had been neatly trimmed away. (Interesting note: we are fairly certain that this card was once part of The Pat Quinn Collection. When we visited with Pat Quinn, one of the most legendary dealers of all time, in the 1970s, we recall seeing a Ward with the bottom clipped in his albums; at the time, we thought it was a Kalamazoo Bats portrait card; in retrospect, we are certain it was this very card. Many years later Pat Quinn's collection was sold to the auction company that sold this card in 2005). When the card was auctioned in its original state with bottom clipped in 2005, it was purchased by our consignor for $10,330. (A picture of the card from when it was originally offered in 2005 at public auction, without the advertisement on the bottom, is available for viewing on the internet page for this lot.) Since that time, professional restoration has been employed to attach a replacement ad borrowed from a more common Four Base Hits actress card. This is a remarkable job of restoration! At a quick glance it appears as though the card is entirely original. Close inspection, of course, reveals an obvious seam, both front and back, where the ad has been attached. The front surface of the card has also been cleaned during the restoration process to remove light soiling and improve the overall appearance. This example has a crisp portrait with ideal contrast throughout the image. It appears bright and clean, with even wear to the top two corners (the bottom two corners are near-perfect as sourced from a replacement card) and only light wrinkling at the seam in the bottom right. The blank reverse displays three areas of paper loss consistent with removal from an album as well as natural light soiling. The card can, of course, always be returned to its 2005 clipped-ad state if desired, but the display quality and overall visual appeal has been markedly improved by the outstanding high-quality restoration.

The only other Four Base Hits of Ward known (referred to earlier) is graded EX/NM 80 by SGC and would easily be a six figure card if ever publically offered. (In fact, it last sold privately for over $200,000.) An N690 Kalamazoo Bats Ward (which, of course, is a different card but is closely related) that was graded VG/EX 50 by SGC realized $141,000 at REA in 2008. This Four Base Hits card of John Ward (which, interestingly, looks very much like a giant E223 G&B portrait card of Ward; see Copeland auction Lot 764) represents a fascinating and unique opportunity to acquire an almost-never-offered Hall of Famer from the Four Base Hits card set and one of nineteenth-century card collecting's most legendary rarities, at a fraction of the cost of an unrestored example. Reserve $5,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $18,960


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