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Old Judge Cabinet Cards Are a Fantastic Investment

Old Judge Cabinet Cards are a fantastic

The Old Judge Cabinet Cards or N-173’s are some of the rarest 19thCentury Cards.  This makes them extremely
sought after by collectors and examples of the cards are bringing tens of thousands of dollars in both auctions and private sales.  Population reports on known examples of each cards are small (usually less than 10 of each type) with very rare examples numbering less than 5 of each player.
These cards are rare due to the simple fact that in order to obtain these cards, a cigarette purchaser needed compile 35 proofs of purchase or
coupons from cigarette packs, then mail them in and at that point they would receive a single cabinet card or N-173.  These cards were produced by Goodwin and Company New York and were actual sepia type photos on a plain backing.  One of the rarest of the group is the N-173 Michael “King” Kelly in plain clothes.
In 1888 Goodwin And Company produced two cards depicting King Kelly.  The 1st and most common was the “45 degree batting pose”.
This card showed King Kelly in uniform with his body bladed 45 degrees towards the camera.  The second pose was the King Kelly “portrait” which shows close up Sepia photo of King Kelly in street clothes.  This is the rarest of them all.  Vintage Price Guide gives a population on this card as 3 Known in the world as of June of 2012.  The fourth was about to be discovered.  The last King Kelly “portrait” Graded by SGC a 40 was sold in a private sale in 2005 for $72,000.  There are no auctions records on file for the King Kelly card as all three known are now in private collections.
In August 2012 Saco River Auction found the 4th Known King Kelly card along with 6 other 1888 Boston Beaneaters to include,  John Clarkson, Dan Brouthers, Pop Smith, Billy Nash, Charlie Bennett and Joe Quinn.
The cards were sent out for grading to SGC and the King Kelly came back as graded 55 which is the highest grade of all the known cards.
Sports card investing has become a sound way to diversify investors’ portfolios by keeping capitol away from the volatility of the stock market.  These investments have proven to be rather lucrative with high returns over the short term.  Case in point is the famed T-206 Honus
Wagner.  The Wagner card was first sold in the 1980’s for $25000.  The card was then sold to collector Jim Copeland for $100,000.  Copeland sold the card to Hockey Superstar Wayne Gretzky in 1991 for $451,000. Wayne Gretzky held the card for 4 years and then sold it to Wal-Mart for$500,000. To illustrate the point the card most recently sold to the owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks for $2.8 Million Dollars making it the most expensive
card in history.  In the span of 25 years the card’s value increase over 10,000%….you are not going to find that on Wall Street.
There is no way of knowing for certain if the King Kelly will rise to the level of the Wagner card, however with the rarity of this card it is both
highly collectible and a sound investment. It will likely be years (if ever)until another one passes through an auction
house, which makes this a once in a lifetime event.


Edit: Our King Kelly card sold for $62,000 and our Brooklyn Atlantics card sold for $92,000 (02/07/13 MM)

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