Lot # 1: 1923-24 Billiken complete HIGH GRADE set!!!

Category: Featured

Starting Bid: $200,000.00

Bids: 3 (Bid History)

Time Left: Auction closed
Lot / Auction Closed




This lot is closed. Bidding is not allowed.

Item was in Auction "Auction #35",
which ran from 2/5/2024 4:00 PM to
2/17/2024 10:00 PM



This set of 60 cards represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for even the most advanced collectors in the hobby. This is the first time a complete set of 1923-24 Billiken cards has ever been offered for sale publicly! It was meticulously put together, card by card, upgrade by upgrade, over the course of 25+ years. This set was curated with image quality being a priority, and it shows when you view the clarity and contrast on each card. But not only do the cards in this set have some of the nicest images you will find for each card, it is also a HIGH GRADE set, with each card being graded by SGC. Currently, SGC has graded a total of 543 Billiken cards. Of the 60 cards in this set, 24 of them are the highest graded! That means 40% of the cards offered here are the highest SGC has ever graded. Many of the others are the second highest graded. Even when the cards have lower grades, they almost always have superior image quality. It would literally be impossible to put a set of this quality together today. In fact, it would be nearly impossible to put a Billiken set of ANY quality together today.

The 1923-24 Billiken set is widely considered one of, if not THE most desirable of all Cuban baseball card issues. They were issued in packs of "Billiken" brand oval-made cigars. Unlike many other Cuban issues of the 1920s, the images are all unique and cannot be found elsewhere. Printed on photographic stock, each card shows a player in uniform from around the knees up with La Boulanger Park in Santa Clara visible in the background. The cards can vary in size, with most being around 1 15/16" by around 1 5/8". The photographer is unknown, but with what was captured with these images, they must have been some kind of Cuban Charles Conlon.

The set features 15 cards from each of the four Cuban League teams: Santa Clara (the 1923-24 team is considered the greatest team in Cuban baseball history), Almendares, Habana, and Marianao. The number of important Negro Leaguers in this set is truly remarkable. There are cards of 5 HOFers: Oscar Charleston, Pop Lloyd, Cristobal Torriente, Andy Cooper, and Jose Mendez. But there are also cards of some of the best Negro Leaguers of the era, including some who deserve consideration for Cooperstown. There are cards of Jesse "Nip" Winters (the best pitcher in the history of the Eastern Colored League), Oliver "Ghost" Marcelle, Dobie Moore, Alejandro Oms, Eddie Douglass (his only card), Frank Warfield, Frank Duncan, Rube Currie, Clint Thomas, Mack Eggleston, Edgar Wesley, Jesse "Mountain" Hubbard, Red Ryan, and several others. If you're not familiar with those players, do yourself a favor and look them up.

Although the set includes the incomparable Oscar Charleston, who could be the best baseball player ever to step on a field, the clear showstopper in this group is Negro League legend John Henry "Pop" Lloyd. In addition to the high grade of the card itself, the bold image of the "Black Wagner" is mesmerizing and features crisp details of the whole scene. Charleston's card is the exception to the rule for this set condition-wise, but still has a haunting, clear image. The card of Nip Winters (his only card) is graded a ridiculous Near Mint 7! There are too many gems in this lot to describe each one. Look for yourself. The scans tell the real story.

Here is a listing of all cards with their grades and SGC populations, listed by team:

ALMENDARES

Bernardo Baro SGC 4 ~ 11 graded, 1 higher
Manuel Cueto SGC 4 ~ 10 graded, ZERO higher
Valentin Dreke SGC 5 ~ 11 graded, 1 higher
Isidro Fabre SGC 5 ~ 15 graded, 1 higher (a 5.5)
Jose Maria Fernandez SGC 5 ~ 11 graded, ZERO higher
Oscar Fuhr SGC 5.5 ~ 8 graded, ZERO higher
Snake Henry SGC 5.5 ~ 13 graded, ZERO higher
Ramón "Paito" Herrera SGC 5 ~ 9 graded, 2 higher (both 5.5)
Jesse "Mountain" Hubbard SGC 6 ~ 8 graded, ZERO higher
Bienvenido "Hooks" Jimenez SGC 5 ~ 8 graded, 1 higher (a 5.5)
Armando Marsans SGC 5.5 ~ 11 graded, ZERO higher
Jakie May SGC 7 ~ 9 graded, ZERO higher
Eugenio Morin SGC 3 ~ 11 graded, 3 higher
Joseito Rodriguez SGC 5 ~ 9 graded, ZERO higher
Jesse "Nip" Winters SGC 7 ~ 12 graded, ZERO higher

HABANA

Eufremio Abreu SGC 5 ~ 6 graded, 1 higher (a 6)
John Bischoff SGC 4 ~ 7 graded, 1 higher (a 5)
Jay "Nig" Clarke SGC 5.5 ~ 9 graded, ZERO higher
Andy Cooper SGC 3 ~ 10 graded, 3 higher
Mack Eggleston SGC 4 ~ 7 graded, ZERO higher
Marcelino Guerra SGC 5.5 ~ 7 graded, ZERO higher
Bienvenido "Hooks" Jimenez SGC 4 ~ 5 graded, 2 higher
Oscar Levis SGC 4 ~ 8 graded, ZERO higher
John Henry "Pop" Lloyd SGC 5 ~ 13 graded, 2 higher
Juanelo Mirabal SGC 4 ~ 8 graded, 4 higher
Bartolo Portuondo SGC 5.5 ~ 11 graded, ZERO higher
Rafael "Busta" Quintana SGC 3 ~ 9 graded, 2 higher
Sammie Ross SGC 4 ~ 7 graded, ZERO higher
Clint Thomas SGC 3 ~ 9 graded, 2 higher
Edgar Wesley SGC 4 ~ 10 graded, 2 higher

MARIANAO

Jose "Acostica" Acosta SGC 3 ~ 8 graded, 2 higher
Merito Acosta SGC 5.5 ~ 8 graded, ZERO higher
Don Brown SGC 4 ~ 4 graded, 1 higher (a 5)
Eddie Brown SGC 4 ~ 4 graded, 1 higher (a 5)
Rogelio Crespo SGC 3 ~ 7 graded, 2 higher (both 4s)
Joe DeBerry SGC 3 ~ 7 graded, 2 higher
Freddie Fitzsimmons SGC 4 ~ 6 graded, 1 higher
Ivy Griffin SGC 5.5 ~ 11 graded, ZERO higher
Ernie Krueger SGC 4 ~ 9 graded, 2 higher
Slim Love SGC 4 ~ 6 graded, 1 higher (a 4.5)
Jose "Pepin" Perez SGC 5 ~ 7 graded, 2 higher (both 5.5)
Manuel Rigal SGC 4 ~ 7 graded, 1 higher
Hank Schreiber SGC 5 ~ 8 graded, ZERO higher
Cristobal Torriente SGC 4 ~ 8 graded, ZERO higher

SANTA CLARA

Oscar Charleston SGC 1 ~ 9 total graded, 6 higher
Rube Currie SGC 1 ~ 8 graded, 4 higher (3 is highest)
Pedro Dibut SGC 3 ~ 8 graded, 2 higher
Eddie Douglass SGC 4 ~ 11 graded, 1 higher (a 5)
Frank Duncan SGC 5.5 ~ 10 graded, ZERO higher
Oliver "Ghost" Marcelle SGC 2 ~ 10 graded, 4 higher
Jose Mendez SGC 2 ~ 11 graded, 4 higher
Agustin "Tinti" Molina SGC 3 ~ 8 graded, 2 higher
Esteban "Mayari" Montalvo SGC 2 ~ 10 graded, 6 higher
Dobie Moore SGC 4 ~ 10 graded, 2 higher
Alejandro Oms SGC 4 ~ 10 graded, ZERO higher
Matias Rios SGC 4 ~ 9 graded, ZERO higher
Julio Rojo SGC 3 ~ 10 graded, 2 higher
Mervyn "Red" Ryan SGC 5.5 ~ 10 graded, ZERO higher
Frank Warfield SGC 1.5 ~ 9 graded, 5 higher (4 is highest)

Shipping cost TBD based on winning bidder’s preference.

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