Spring Premier Auction 2020

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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 5/2/2020

Most of the great 1986-87 Fleer Basketball rookie cards, including Michael Jordan, were preceded by true rookie debuts in the 1984-85 Star Company set. Distributed in 12-card team sets sealed in transparent plastic baggies (called "polybags”), the limited product was sold only through “master distributors” to a select number of hobby shops. Production numbers for the 2nd year issue are believed to be around 3,000 according to Star’s original order form.

His Airness is featured on three cards in the 1984-85 Star Co. Basketball set. The most coveted and valuable, by far, is his #101 XRC true rookie. Presented here is one of the finest signed versions of MJ’s first rookie card you will find in the hobby, newly graded and fresh to the market from perhaps the world’s deepest basketball autograph collection. Beckett has dual-graded this beauty NM-MT+ 8.5 for the card and Mint 9 for the autograph. The card condition breakdown listed on the back of the holder is: Centering 8; Corners 8.5; Edges 9; Surface 9. That evaluation seems to be spot-on. Jordan’s early-career signature is done in bold blue Sharpie. Absolutely stunning.

Finding this elusive gem is difficult enough in its pure format, with high-grade examples demanding a heavy premium. An unsigned BGS NM-MT+ 8.5 went for $11,400 in 2016, and a BGS 9.5 sold privately for $52,500 in 2015 according to Beckett. Signed examples of MJ’s original rookie, however, are even scarcer. In 2017, one graded BGS MINT 9 for the card and 10 for the autograph sold for $49,000. What separates this offered example from others of the same grade or better is the timestamp of the signature, which matches MJ’s rookie-era form.

In the late 1960’s as a young boy, our consignor Tim Gallagher – who grew up in the same neighborhood as the Paxson brothers, Jim and John – began accumulating what has become the most comprehensive collection of basketball autographs ever documented. He tracked down thousands of players either in person or through the mail and recalls getting Jordan to sign this card in person during his rookie season! Luckily for us and the rest of the hobby, he has decided to part with it and other treasured pieces from his incredible collection.

Provenance: It was in the suburbs of Dayton, Ohio, in the late 1960s that an 8-year-old boy named Tim Gallagher began what would turn into a lifelong pursuit to acquire as many autographs of famous athletes as possible. Half a century later, his collection across multiple sports (mostly basketball, baseball and football) had become one of the most comprehensive and diverse ever documented. The Dayton Journal Herald (2/5/1974) first reported on the then 15-year-old’s passionate hobby. Tim grew up in the same neighborhood and attended the same high school as the Paxson brothers, Jim and John, whose success in college and the NBA would give him access to many stars and Hall of Famers. When he was 46, the Dayton Daily News (7/3/2005) did a feature story about Tim’s collection, which by then had grown to 20,000 plus signatures. Early on most of these came through the mail as he would write athletes (i.e. Bill Walton at UCLA) with self-addressed, pre-stamped envelopes. When possible, he would track down players in person at their team hotels, for example, bringing their photo or trading card to sign. As he settled into his own business career, Tim eventually had the financial means, combined with his connections, to attend major sporting events like the Final Four or charity golf tournaments and get directly in front of dozens of big names. In 2015, Gallagher sold several thousand baseball autographs through a different auction house. But basketball was always his favorite sport, encompassing a vast majority of the collection with a list of legends (Mikan, Wilt, Russell, Pistol, Jordan, Kobe, etc.) and near impossible gets (i.e. Hank Gathers, Len Bias) that cannot be topped. This auction marks the first time he has ever sold any of his beloved hardwood signatures.

Bidding
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $3,000
Final prices include buyers premium.: $42,955
Number Bids: 24
Auction closed on Saturday, May 2, 2020.
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