The first consignment to make it in the door was this lovely 1887 N690 Kalamazoo Bat card of Joseph Mulvey. Al Crisafulli of Love of the Game Auctions can’t imagine there’s a card that better describes the type of auction that he is trying to deliver to collectors. The phrase “scarce and desirable” is used often in this hobby, but among prewar card collectors, there are few sets to which that phrase is better applied. Issued between 1886 and 1887, the “K-Bats” are CDV-sized photographic cards on heavy cardboard. While some have advertising printed on the back, this particular K-Bat is of the blank backed variety.
Tough 19th Century cards are often the passion of advanced, long-time collectors that prefer their cards ungraded in their collection. However, we acknowledge that grading company population reports, while never accurate enough with issues like this to be “bible,” are an excellent barometer of relative scarcity. As such, we’ll report that between PSA and SGC, only 201 cards have been graded in total, with Mulvey represented by a total of 10 different graded examples.
Of the graded examples of the Mulvey card, only one of the 10 cards has graded higher – a PSA 5 (the only Mulvey graded by PSA). This particular Mulvey is the highest-graded example encapsulated by SGC, though there are two others at this level as well.
The scarcity of Kalamazoo Bats cards, coupled with their desirability among advanced collectors, means that they don’t trade hands very often. Assembling a complete set is nearly impossible, with just one registered set between the PSA and SGC registries combined (an SGC-registered set that is just 51% complete). As such, even lower grade examples routinely sell for several thousand dollars.
Beyond all those stats, though, this is just a beautiful, beautiful card. The image, as you can see, is a crisp, clean image of the Philadelphia third baseman, posed in his defensive position, glove on hand, as if awaiting a ground ball. The photograph itself is in fantastic shape, with a hint of staining on the image adjacent to Mulvey’s right shoulder. The cardboard mount is clean, and the blank back is undamaged.
Love of the Game Auctions is proud and excited to offer such an excellent piece of baseball history in the inaugural.