December 2017 Holiday Premium Auction
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 12/10/2017
Query the entire century-and-a-half-long existence of baseball cards in American culture, and what you undoubtedly learn is that the most popular sets are not necessarily those that look the best or offer the most cards or are the toughest to find in mint condition. Yes, all of those things are extremely important. But what matters most in set significance as compared to other sets is who the set contains. The 1951 Bowman Baseball set is universally regarded as one of the most popular and important baseball card sets ever produced. The set contains the true rookie cards of the game's two greatest players of the postwar period, and arguably of all-time: Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. For this reason alone, the 1951 Bowman set would forever rank among the hobby's top ten most important sets. With 324 cards comprising approximately 85% of Major League Baseball's 400-player roster on Opening Day in 1951, it is the largest-ever baseball offering from the famed Philadelphia gum manufacturer. Last but not least, the set's design consists of artistically-enhanced color photographs that capture an almost palpable and transcendent timelessness as ably as the smell of fresh cut green grass, the taste of bubble gum, and the sights and sounds of the game itself.

The set's undeniable nostalgic charm and aesthetic appeal have inspired dozens of well-heeled collectors to undertake the daunting task of completing a high-grade '51 Bowman set. Presently, there are 80 sets enrolled on the PSA Set Registry, including an amazing 16 sets boasting a PSA 7 or better average with at least 95% completion. Suffice it to say, competition for high-end cards can get pretty intense.

Leading off Small Traditions's 2017 Holiday Premium Auction is a card any one of the 80 hobbyists compiling the 1951 Bowman Baseball set would be absolutely thrilled to see appear under his or her Christmas tree this season. Offered here is the one-and-only PSA 10 Gem Mint example of 1944 National League MVP Marty Marion's '51 Bowman pasteboard, #34 in this hallowed set. The slick-fielding infielder was a local legend in St. Louis, where his golden glove and leadership ability helped guide the Cardinals to three World Series titles in the 1940s. Considered the second-best shortstop in Cards history after the Wizard himself, Ozzie Smith, Marion earned a trio of nicknames of his own: Slats, the Octopus, and—perhaps most appropriately—Mr. Shortstop. "I've met scores of Martys in my time in St. Louis and they all told me they were named after Marty Marion," exclaimed Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak. "That just tells you what kind of player he was and what kind of impact he had on that generation."

To date, out of the 87,033 individual 1951 Bowman cards graded by PSA, only 182 have ever received the grading company's venerated PSA 10 Gem Mint grade, a microscopic 0.2% of cards submitted. Exhibiting four razor sharp corners, nearly perfect centering, stunning pack-fresh colors and flawless surfaces, this Marion masterpiece is every bit deserving of its gem evaluation. If vintage Bowman cards are your bag, we cannot think of a better way to say "Happy Holidays" to yourself than to secure this peerless piece of cardboard for your treasured collection.

Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $1,000
Final prices include buyers premium: $7,477
Number Bids: 12
Auction closed on Sunday, December 10, 2017.
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