Spring 2017 Major League Baseball "Set Registry Masters" Premium Auction
Graded PSA 9 Mint Pop 1 with none graded higher. Do you see that annoying white dot in the blue sky above Roberto's left shoulder on this 1968 KDKA Pittsburgh Pirates card? That pixel-sized nuisance is the only thing standing between this otherwise perfect card and a PSA 10 Gem Mint holder. As it is, the offered PSA 9 is the single finest copy on record, the only PSA 9 to ever surface from 131 submissions to the Newport Beach-based grading authority. The first PSA 8.5 of this card to surface fetched $590 back in 2010, and there are now two of those on record, which have been rendered second-best by the offered PSA 9. This card is for the collector who must have the very best, and what it is worth is anyone's guess. We're fairly confident, however, that it will never be bettered by another.
The thing about that white dot, you see, is that it appears on every single copy of this card ever printed. It also appears on the 1966 East Hills Pirates issue and on all of the 1967 through 1969 Pittsburgh Pirate Autograph cards -- identified as Pirates Team Issues by PSA, every single one of them -- as well as all the other various regional and team issues which borrow the image. The obvious reason for this is that the dot, plus a small white line on the larger issues, appears in the original negative, a reality which makes these marks a part of the image as much as Clemente's nose and ear. Whether or not the PSA grading team will ever agree to make an exception for this imperfection remains to be seen. As of right now, however, neither the 1968 KDKA nor any of the other issues which use the image (save a single 1966 East Hills card) have ever received a grade of Gem Mint 10, and they probably never will. Incidentally, that lone East Hills PSA 10 fetched $5,415 when it first sold in a Memory Lane auction in 2011.
Tough 1968 KDKA Pittsburgh Pirates #21 Roberto Clemente PSA 9 Mint Pop 1 Highest Graded
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