Lot # 4: Remarkable 1950-51 Toleteros Josh Gibson (HOF) w/Redemption Stamp - SGC PR 1

Category: Featured Items

Starting Bid: $10,000.00

Bids: 78 (Bid History)

Time Left: Auction closed
Lot / Auction Closed

This lot is closed. Bidding is not allowed.

Item was in Auction "Spring, 2024 Premier Auction",
which ran from 3/11/2024 12:00 AM to
3/30/2024 9:00 PM

When discussing the great players of the Negro Leagues, perhaps no name is mentioned more often than that of Josh Gibson.  The power-hitting catcher is known to have been one of the greatest players in baseball history, and was just the second Negro League player inducted into the Hall of Fame.  According to some, he hit 800 home runs in his career, and since Major League Baseball began recognizing Negro League records, he has the second-highest single-season batting average, hitting .466 in 1943.  Sadly, Gibson died of a stroke in 1947, just months before Jackie Robinson made his major league debut.  Just 35 years old, his contemporaries often speculated that he died from a broken heart at not being the first black player in the Major Leagues. Among the various heroes of the Negro Leagues, few names, if any, are bigger than Josh Gibson.

From a collecting standpoint, Gibson represents a unique conundrum, because for decades there were simply no cards of Gibson from any year even adjacent to his playing career.  The discovery of the Gibson card in the 1950-51 Toleteros set, capturing him during the Puerto Rican Winter League, was issued after his passing, to commemorate his excellent career and his impact on the game.  Similar in nature to the 1948 Leaf Babe Ruth or 1933 Goudey Sport Kings Ty Cobb, the 1950-51 Toleteros Josh Gibson has been embraced by collectors, and given the unfortunate reality that few cards of Negro League players were issued, making this Gibson's only "true" card.  Often called the "Honus Wagner of Negro League cards," just 33 examples exist on the PSA and SGC population reports combined, and it is speculated that several examples are double-counted, having been crossed from one holder to another.  The 1950-51 Josh Gibson is easily the most valuable of all the Toleteros cards, and in the eyes of many, the most valuable of Negro League card of all.

Of all the known Toleteros Josh Gibson cards, this example is, perhaps, the most rare and valuable.

Roughly translated as "sluggers," the Toleteros issues were produced by R. Garcia & Co. of Mayaguez, PR.  The cards were issued in small packs beginning in 1948, and featured players from the current and past seasons of the Puerto Rican Winter League.  Cards were meant to be placed in an album that could then be redeemed for prizes (one reason the cards and albums are so scarce today).  Outside the album, the cards could also be used to play a game.

According to extensive research conducted by prominent Toleteros collector Angel Colón, the promotion was so successful that the company released a second set in 1949, adding the concept of "instant winners" to the promotion - special cards overprinted with a Garcia logo or a colored star that could be immediately redeemed for up to 30 different prizes, some as pricey as a trip to Mexico with $100 in spending money.  The 1950-51 set worked similarly, with "chase" cards overprinted with the Garcia logo or a letter - collectors could use the letters to spell the names of one of the Puerto Rican League teams (Aguadilla, Caguas, Mayaguez, Ponce, San Juan and Santurce).  If a collector was fortunate enough to piece together enough overprinted cards to spell one of the teams, the cards could be redeemed for a prize.

It goes without saying that with prizes as large trips, refrigerators, and bicycles, that the "chase" cards were produced in small quantities.  Though they are occasionally found, they are extraordinarily rare today.

Presented here is such a "chase" card, but not an ordinary one: it is the most valuable and highly sought after card in the set!  Josh Gibson, boldly overprinted with the Garcia logo and the letter "L" in deep, red ink, underneath Gibson's belt on the card.  SGC has assigned a grade of PR 1, which speaks partially to the horizontal crease that runs across the card and a small piece of clear tape on the reverse, but is more a way of addressing the overprint.  Neither major grading company currently recognizes the overprinting, as the cards and the issue itself are rare enough that few are found, and references to the prizes in surviving Toleteros literature does not appear to be sufficient to sway them.  This is, of course, another reason hobbyists should be pressuring the industry to revive the Standard Catalog as a central clearing house for hobby knowledge.  But we digress.

This is a truly remarkable card.  A rare variation of the most sought-after of all Caribbean cards, the 1950-51 Toleteros set features the only card featuring one of the most famous players in Negro League history.  The Gibson is perhaps the most famous of all Negro League cards, a card that seldom makes its way to public auction, and routinely sets price records.  This is the only example of a 1950-51 Toleteros Josh Gibson with a prize redemption overprint that we have ever seen, and perhaps the only one in existence.  Simply an amazing artifact.



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