Three sets shine brightest in card history—1909-11 T206 (pinnacle of the tobacco era), 1933 Goudey (birth of gum cards) and 1952 Topps (postwar favorite). Because signature collecting was still in its infancy until master autograph artist Babe Ruth came along, very few T206s are signed at all, let alone signed from the 1910s period. By contrast, there’s an abundance of ‘52 Topps signed cards, including a dozen or so Mantles. But it’s the ‘33 Goudeys that hit the perfect sweet spot of rarity, popularity, star power and value, reigning supreme as the hobby’s most expensive signed-card set.
This mind-boggling collection was primarily purchased in one fell swoop back in the 1980s and has not seen the light of day since. Fresh to the hobby, it showcases not only 39 Hall of Fame names, not only the most obscure commons, but even the set’s previously unknown Holy Grail: Braves outfielder Earl Clark, who died in a car crash in January of 1938 at age 30. There are 156 different signed cards in all, which represent two-thirds of the 240-card set—far and away, the largest assembly ever offered publicly or privately. What’s more, the vast majority of the signatures are vintage examples obtained in person at Fenway Park and Braves Field in 1933 and 1934.
For the purposes of our catalog descriptions, we have listed the signature grade, signature medium, card grade and any additional notes (such as if the player died in the 1950s or earlier). The medium is abbreviated as follows: Pencil (P), Fountain Pen (F) and Ballpoint (BP). We anticipate record-breaking results and are proud to present this Goudey gold mine.
Notes: Deceased 1948. Fifth example ever offered at auction. Of the four Ruth cards in the '33 Goudey set, this yellow-background design is by far the most valuable among autograph collectors, with the finest example having sold for over $50,000 in 2013.