January 2017 Monthly Masterpieces Plus #49
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 1/28/2017

Proudly offered in the first lot of Small Traditions' January 2017 Monthly Masterpieces Plus #49 auction is one of the single finest Michael Jordan rookie cards in existence. We're not talking about the 1986-87 Fleer #57 card here, which was actually produced and distributed during Mike's third season in the NBA. No, this is the elusive and notoriously condition sensitive 1984-85 Star Company #101 card, MJ's true RC. For those who might not know it, this iconic card was limited to just 3,000 copies made, a truly infinitesimal print run for mid-1980s card manufacturers, when companies like Topps and Donruss and Fleer were producing individual player cards with print runs in the millions. Even the trial-based 1986-87 Fleer basketball issue, which had returned to the market after over a quarter-century hiatus, had estimates of between 100,000 to as many as 200,000 of each card produced, including the massively popular #57 card. So forget the fact that one of these cards is an actual rookie card (RC) and the other was produced two years later. In terms of production totals, i.e. overall scarcity, there simply is no comparison between the two. This is Michael Jordan's true rookie card, and it's scarce as heck.

If these drastically different production totals aren't compelling enough, however, then consider the fact that the offered masterpiece is one of just 36 top copies to make the BGS Mint 9 grade, with only 2 copies ever grading higher, the most recent auction of which fetched a whopping $164,700 on eBay in October of last year. Since then, two other legitimate BGS Mint 9 sales have occurred on eBay, the first for $36,100 in mid-November and the second for $40,207 last month, in mid-December. eBay also shows records for two other sales during the same time period, but they are for the same card (with the same serial number) and from a seller with a feedback rating of just 4, obviously indicating some sort of scam. Last year also saw the unprecedented rise in values for the 1986-87 Fleer #57 card, with top Gem Mint 10 copies graded by PSA reaching as high as $40,000 -- there are 264 of those on record, by the way -- and top copies from BGS surpassing $100,000 -- and there are precisely 6 of those graded BGS 10 Pristine on record.

Coincidentally, there are just 6 copies of the 1984-85 Star #101 card to ever receive a mark of BGS 9.5 Gem Mint for their centering subgrades. Most examples are grossly off-centered, which is why only two Gem Mint 9.5s and 36 Mint 9s have ever surfaced from the 541 copies on record at BGS, the Dallas-based grading and price guide authority. Two of those mere six copies with Gem Mint 9.5 centering are the two BGS 9.5s on record, two others are graded BGS 8 NM-MT overall, and then there are two BGS 9 Mint copies with Gem Mint 9.5 centering, arguably making the offered card one of the top four examples in existence. Importantly, if you research any of those other five cards with Gem Mint 9.5 centering, you will see that all five of them have questionable top-to-bottom centering, with top borders that appear to be about four to five times as wide as each card's respective (and virtually non-existent) bottom border. The offered card, however, is accurately centered from left-to-right AND from top-to-bottom, making it unique in the world of 1984-85 Star Michael Jordan rookie cards. Furthermore, as most collectors know, the card was distributed as the top card in a sealed Chicago Bulls plastic team bag, limited to 3,000 sets made. As the top card, the Jordan often suffered surface dents, abrasions, and other imperfections, as well as corner and edge wear from rubbing against the plastic. What makes the offered near Gem even more impressive, therefore, is the fact that it also received a mark of Gem Mint 9.5 for its surfaces as well as its centering. Without question, it is truly one of the finest examples in existence.

Item With Reserve: This card has been listed with a hidden reserve at a level chosen by our consignor in order to protect his or her investment, and the card will not sell until bidding reaches this level, at which point the current bid price will change from red to black. The reserve price is approximately 60% of the average price paid on eBay for inferior versions of the same card in the same grade.

Important Note: The above description and title have been edited to reflect a correction to the stated print run of the 1984-85 Star Company Chicago Bulls team bag from 1,000 to 3,000 sets made, still an minuscule fraction when compared to 1986-87 Fleer basketball and to other mid-1980s card issues.  Also, please be sure to read the informative interview with long-time dealer and Star Company expert Steve Taft at JordanCards.com regarding the reprinting and counterfeiting of this important card.

Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $10,000
Final prices include buyers premium: $30,475
Number Bids: 9
Auction closed on Sunday, January 29, 2017.
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