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1899 M101-1 Sporting News Fred Clarke (Rookie)
Starting Bid - $200, Sold For - $420
Extremely rare and significant example of Fred Clarke's true rookie card, from the highly regarded M101-1 Sporting News premium set, issued in 1899. This sepia-tone premium set was issued with the Sporting News between the years 1899 and 1900. The fact that this rare premium issue is designed with a biography on the reverse makes this set all the more substantial. Each premium was issued on only a single day and is dated in the upper right. They were intended to be collected over a period of months, as issued, and their purpose was to provide extra value and to encourage loyalty among readers of the Sporting News. 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 Clarke premium was issued only on October 7, 1899 (interestingly one week before another Hall of Fame rookie offered in this auction: Nap Lajoie), and features the future Hall of Famer as Manager and left fielder for the Louisville Colonels (Clarke gained great acclaim starting in 1900 as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates). The premium's central image is outstanding, and only a few light peripheral flaws, such as a few small edge tears, keep it from technically grading highly. The M101-1 Sporting News 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. Of special significance is the fact that M101-1 is the very first set featuring Major League baseball players that was 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 M101-1 Sporting News premium of Fred Clarke without question is the earliest issue for this Hall of Famer and represents his rookie card. Dimensions: 8.75 x 11 inches. Reserve $200. Estimate $400+. SOLD FOR $420
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