December 2019 Holiday Premium Auction
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Brazilian-born Edson Arantes do Nascimento is widely regarded as the single greatest player in the history of the world's most popular sport. Like many of history's most celebrated figures, so famous is the undisputed king of the beautiful game that he is known throughout the world by one name: Pelé. When organizations around the globe began naming their "century" awards in 1999, the International Olympic Committee elected him its Athlete of the Century. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association, or FIFA, the governing body of soccer, named him joint winner of its Player of the Century Award. Argentinian legend Diego Maradona also won the award based on an internet poll, while Pelé won the most votes from FIFA officials, journalists, and coaches. That same year, another integral soccer association, the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) voted Pele the World Player of the Century.

Offered in this lot is a noticeably high-end copy of the increasingly iconic card that has risen above all others to be recognized as Pelé's key rookie card, the 1958 Alifabolaget card #635. Issued in Sweden and reminiscent of tobacco and candy cards from an earlier age, what I love most about the card is its pure and uncluttered design and its diminutive size. There is more cultural and historical significance packed into this tiny cardboard memento than most American baseball card collectors could possibly imagine. While Pelé appears on a number of additional issues in 1958, it is the Alifabolaget card that has spearheaded the recent international fascination with high-grade soccer rookie cards, and it will be the Alifabolaget card that continues to lead the way as PSA and other major hobby players expand their presence around the globe. As soccer cards continue to increase in value within the hobby, this card will increasingly be recognized as soccer's 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle. 

Importantly, no PSA 10 of this key hobby rookie card has ever surfaced, but the last PSA 9 to sell fetched $57,000 in a 2018 Heritage auction. Another PSA 9 currently stands at $54,000 in a current Heritage auction that closes on December 5th, while the last PSA 8.5 fetched $26,400. To be fair, the offered PSA 8, one of just three ever graded, looks as good if not even better than any of those, which we're showing in the pictures here for comparison and to prove that we're not exaggerating. Indeed, the offered card is perfect in every regard except for some extraneous fibers clinging to the edges of the card on its left border and upper right corner. While this should be considered a natural characterisitc and a reassuring sign that the card is totally authentic and unaltered, every other scrutable feature appears in perfect condition. The card's surfaces are gem mint, its centering is perfect, and its corners and edges are mint to gem mint, with none of the unsightly chipping found on other copies. Were it not for the above-mentioned astronomical Heritage Auction results, this copy would likely have graded a Mint 9 if not the first ever Gem Mint 10. It is clearly a superior card, and it should be considered one of the very finest examples in existence.

Important Note 1: Please be sure to click on the cropped image of this card to enlarge it, and then click on the enlarged image again to super-size it. We have provided this scan at ultra high resolution so that interested bidders may see how truly spectacular it is. Most importantly, please notice how any white spots along the corners and edges are not, in fact, chips or missing paper. Rather, they are small fibers hanging off of the card or particles trapped inside the graded card case. 

Important Note 2: The offered Pele rookie card is one of a small handful of specimens graded on behalf of our consignor who sent the cards directly from Sweden to particiate in our Cost-Free Grading program. It is distinctly not one of the same cards that sold in past auctions, but it is clearly the finest of those few copies.  

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