Extra Innings March 2012
This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 3/14/2012
Presented next for your bidding and viewing pleasure is one of the hobby's single finest examples of the challenging #1 card from the groundbreaking 1952 Topps baseball card set, Andy Pafko. Long regarded as one of the crown jewels of the 1952 set, the scarcity of the issue in high-grade is undisputed. To this day, not a single MINT 9 or NM/MT+ 8.5 example has ever surfaced at any grading company, the reasons for which present some pleasant surprises for long-time collectors and newcomers to the hobby alike. Accurately if not conservatively graded SGC 88 NM/MT 8, this hobby masterpiece reports less than a dozen total other specimens in its advanced NM/MT 8 class on record at both SGC and PSA from a sizable submission pool of nearly 1,300 copies on record at both elite firms, combined. While informed collectors and long-time hobbyists might see nothing strange in this, hobby outsiders and novice collectors might be perplexed to learn that only twelve total NM/MT 8 copies of this card exist. These numbers, it turns out, closely resemble the statistical population breakdowns for most cards from the period, but with one major difference. Most cards from the '52 set, and from most other sets from the early 50's period in general, can be found with about as many top-end copies in the combined MINT 9 and GEM MINT 10 columns, but the infamous '52 Topps Pafko literally tops out, no pun intended, in the NM/MT 8 class. It's almost as if the entire grading scale has simply been adjusted down a full level for the issue. The only anomaly that doesn't fit this picture, in fact, is the jaw-dropping PSA 10 GEM MINT example that sold for $250,000 in 2007. Since then, hundreds of additional copies have surfaced within the hobby and made their way into new holders, and yet, despite a number of significant 1952 Topps discoveries over the course of the last half-decade, no additional NM/MT 8 or better copies of the #1 Andy Pafko card have yet to surface. The exact reason why this trend, which continues more than two decades after the advent of third-party card grading, can be verified by any collector lucky enough to have been alive and collecting when the fabled issue first hit stores in the summer of '52. As collectors attempted to complete their sets, they arranged their treasured cardboard into numerical order and then either tied them together with twine or fishing line or rubber bands, or they crammed them into whatever carrying case was most convenient, an empty tin, a small box, a back pocket. Naturally, the cards that suffered the most from this loving abuse were those facing outwards on both the top and the bottom of the stacks, which is precisely the reason so few 1952 Topps Eddie Mathews rookie cards exist in top grades (he's the last card in the set). If you're last, however, at least your precious enamel and wax-coated front surface enjoys a relatively strong and stable state of preservation, but not so with the cherished and always recognizable #1 card, which always faces up, happily greeting collectors with his familiar image (but also with scores of dings and dents and other imperfections to its fragile surface and edges). Couple this abuse with the reality that accurate centering is also a major challenge to find on the issue, in any grade, and it's no wonder someone paid a quarter million dollars for the finest copy in existence. Since that copy is not currently available, however, why not strongly consider the next best thing? The offered gem boasts NM/MT or significantly finer qualities in every perceivable facet of its truly incredible state of near perfect preservation. The centering, while not absolutely perfect, is certainly sufficient enough to be called MINT, while the corners and edges range from NM/MT, on the right side, to NM/MT+ and perhaps even MINT on the left. Both the surface and the image itself, however, are nearly faultless and almost entirely free of any imperfections whatsoever. Rarely do iconic hobby masterpieces like this become available in top grades, so don't miss this chance to own a little slice of hobby royalty, and bid to win today!
1952 Topps #1 Andy Pafko SGC 88 NM/MT 8
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