Legendary Auctions has brought about the private placement of the rare 1948 Rocky Graziano card, graded EX-MT+ 6.5 by PSA, with The Lone Star Collection owned by PSA Set Registry Hall of Fame member Donald E. Spence. The recent transaction enabled Don Spence to become the first collector to achieve completion of the fabled gallery, The Top 200 cards in the Hobby. The “Top 200,” defined in a 2002 book by PSA president and Sports Market Report editor Joe Orlando, represents the card collecting industry’s pinnacle quest.
The 1948 Leaf gum card of boxing champion Rocky Graziano occupies a unique niche in hobby lore. Legitimately attractive, in-grade specimens of this collectible can be counted on the fingers of one hand, and the 2011 emergence of an exceptional copy was a monumental, highly newsworthy event. It’s only fitting, then that the very best example confirmed to exist has found the most suitable, permanent place of residence.
Doug Allen, President & CEO of Legendary Auctions, is proud of the role played by his company in contributing to the hobby milestone. Allen notes, “We couldn’t be more pleased that the card now resides in such an exclusive collection. How fitting is it that a fresh, best-in-class hobby rarity would be the card that filled the final hole? Although we usually go to auction with gems such as this, our client agreed that in this case a direct sale to Don made the most sense. After being safeguarded in his family for over half a century, he felt very comfortable that the card would be placed in the perfect home!”
“The Top 200 Sportscards in the Hobby” consist of the most sought-after, universally appealing, and famous sports cards ever produced, as selected by the results of a wide-ranging poll conducted among long standing hobbyists. The criteria for selection included player and card popularity, the card’s market value and rarity, historical relevance, and the subject’s athletic accomplishment, as well as other factors. The “Top 200’s” roster – studded with iconic and diverse pieces like the T206 Honus Wagner, the rookie cards of Babe Ruth, Jim Thorpe and Michael Jordan, and Mickey Mantle’s 1952 Topps card – stands as an enormously powerful array. Putting together the full group – in top grade, particularly – is generally and rightly viewed as an unattainable feat.
Just as throngs of people marvel at the mere concept of scaling Mt. Everest, though, few summon the nerve to actually attempt the ascent, and it’s only the truly determined, special individual who experiences the summit firsthand. The “Top 200” poses a similarly daunting climb, but the elusiveness and significance of its components imposes strict limits upon the number of people – no matter what their qualifications or resources might be – who can face its challenge with success.
Donald Spence owns one of the finest collections of baseball cards ever assembled. His Lone Star Collection begins with such 19th Century treasures as the 1887 (N28) Allen & Ginter cards, and continues for nearly a century through 1970 Topps. All of Spence’s sets share top-quality condition as the focus of their content, and The Lone Star Collection’s name appears at or near the top of virtually every PSA Set Registry category in which Spence participates. His collection is unbelievably impressive in breadth, magnitude and sophistication, and it’s now highlighted by the world’s first complete “Top 200” array.
The new owner of the phenomenal “Top 200” and the highest-graded ’48 Leaf Graziano card reflects, “Approximately two years ago, I decided to take on the challenge to pursue collecting the ‘Top 200 Sportscards in the Hobby’ set. But the goal of completing this set hit a major road block when it came to finding the 1948 Leaf Rocky Graziano card.”
Spence observes, “At the time, the Population Report indicated that only four Graziano cards had been graded by PSA. I believe that this card has the lowest population of any of the cards in the ‘Top 200’ set. When I heard that Legendary Auctions had acquired a high grade Graziano card, and later obtained a scan, I immediately inquired if the owner would consider a private sale of the card. We were able to come to terms, and I was not only pleased to complete the set but to be the owner of the finest Graziano card in the hobby. I have always appreciated the relationship I have had with Doug Allen and Legendary Auctions, and obtaining this card was a real milestone to me.”
Click here to view The Lone Star Collection “Top 200.”
Consistent with the highest standards established for his collection, Spence sought to obtain only the best in completing his “Top 200” Registry set. (Simply “filling the holes” was never seen as an option; The Lone Star Collection’s “Top 200” PSA Set Registry GPA/Completion line status is far superior to the levels of the 19 other registered assemblies.) And not just anyone can hope to accomplish the “Top 200.” A successful pursuit requires the expected measures of tenacity and perseverance plus, obviously, a certain degree of financial wherewithal. Beyond those, however, is the need for networking, enlisting help, and following leads toward obtaining these most desirable of cards. A solid set of “people skills” also comes in handy.
Don Spence’s “Top 200” collection can be viewed as a summary of the hobby’s best, and the addition of the ’48 Leaf Graziano forms the icing on the cake. According to Joe Orlando, the “Top 200’s” compiler, “There is no doubt that the 1948 Leaf Rocky Graziano rarity is the toughest card to locate on the list, so it’s fitting that this was final card needed to complete Don’s set. When we came up with the ‘Top 200’ about 10 years ago, it wasn’t merely a list of the most valuable cards. It was a diverse list of modern and vintage cards that covered all the major sports, because we wanted the book to appeal to various types of collectors. It is rare for a collector on Don’s level to be so diverse in collecting pursuits, and that is what sets Don apart from most hobbyists. He has also carried his desire for top quality to every segment of the card market in which he participates.”
Additionally, please note that we are actively accepting consignments for both our August Catalog and August Live Auctions. We’re setting aside some one-of-a-kind items for the Live auction! To partner with an auction house dedicated to maximizing the value of your fine collectibles, visit www.legendaryauctions.com or call us today at (708) 889-9380.
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