Oscar Charleston might have been the best baseball player ever to step on a field. He is the very definition of the five-tool player, excelling in every aspect of the game. But if you're reading this, you already knew that. It's still mind-blowing to think that baseball cards exist of Oscar Charleston. Many consider the 1923-24 Billiken Oscar Charleston to be the best of this three cards, largely due to it being photographic and having such an amazing image of him. It helps that the card happened to be produced during the 1923-24 season, with him as a member of the Santa Clara team that is generally accepted as the greatest team in the history of Cuban baseball.
This particular card is the second best example that exists. The best one is graded an 84 (NM) by SGC, which is the highest grade of any Billiken Charleston, and it also has the best image quality of any of them. It is truly one of the greatest baseball cards in the entire baseball card hobby. But the card offered here isn't too far behind it. Image quality and clarity matter as much, if not more, than technical card grade when it comes to 1923-24 Billiken cards. This has arguably the second best image quality, while also having one of the highest technical card grades. SGC has graded a total of 9 examples. There a three 10s, one 30, one 40, two 60s, one 70, and one 84. I've already described the 84, but to show how important image quality is vs. technical card grade, the third picture shown here is a comparison of the SGC 70 (left) and this SGC 60 (right) side by side. The other 60 that SGC graded not too long ago is almost certainly trimmed and is way too short top to bottom to warrant a number grade. It was originally graded "Authentic" by SGC and sold in a 2011 Hake's auction. It was later cracked out and re-submitted to SGC, who somehow threw their previous standards out the window and graded it a 60. Grading standards at SGC have deteriorated quite a bit in recent years, but the card offered in this lot was graded when they were still in their prime as a grading company. In addition to the 9 graded by SGC, PSA has graded one, a 2. The example in this auction has exchanged hands several times over the past decade. Once for $35,000, and as high as $45,000. The reason it is being offered right now is that its sale could provide a substantial impact on hurricane relief efforts.
NOTE: 25% of the winning bid for
this lot will be donated directly to relief efforts to help the victims
of the devastating hurricanes that struck Puerto Rico and The U.S.