Single Cards Cut from First Issues of Sports Illustrated Have Little Value
by Bill Wagner, "Babe Waxpak"
September 4, 2005
Discuss this article:
Dear Babe: I have a CLG authenticated 1954, Mint 9, SI Preview Duke Snyder Topps baseball card.
The same card sold for $3,680 in 2001. What does the "SI Preview" mean?
Bill Simmons, Salem, N.H.
Methinks we're mixing apples and oranges. You have a single piece of paper cut from a sheet of
replicas of 1954 Topps cards that were included in the first issue of Sports Illustrated from
Aug. 16, 1954. That's what "S.I. Preview" denotes. The card that sold in the auction
was almost assuredly a real 1954 Topps card. Currently, Beckett lists a '54 Snider graded as
near mint at $500-$800. The value would probably triple for a gem mint graded '54 Snider. Without
going into all the gory details, companies have popped up, grading pieces of paper (pictures
from magazines, single S.I. "cards" and other similar items), which are then sold in
Internet auctions. While it certainly is possible that this could be the next type of item to
grab the fancy of serious collectors, it does not appear likely. Generally speaking, most folks
in the hobby have little use for and assign no value to paper pictures cut from newspapers,
magazines and books. All of the major grading companies I contacted - Beckett, Sportscard Guaranty
Corp. and PSA - told me they wouldn't grade a single piece of paper cut from one of the first
two issues of Sports Illustrated. You can say that also applies to pictures trimmed from magazines
and similar items. As for the Sports Illustrated magazines themselves, I'd say top value for the
Aug. 16, 1954, first issue is $250. That value takes into account the more recent find of original
mint first issues in storage where they sat for nearly five decades. The second magazine, unissued
copies of which have yet to be found in any warehouses, is worth $200-$300. The value is based on
the never-issued 1954 Topps Mickey Mantle card and the fact that there are far fewer of them
because of that warehouse find for issue No. 1.
The Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards from the editors of Sports Collectors Digest lists the sheets
of paper cards from the first issue at $175 if they're near mint (NM) and the ones from issue No. 2
at $275 (NM). They also list sheets from a 2001 reprint of the first issue at $30.
I have to agree with everyone I talked with - at this point, there's no value for a single card (piece
of paper) trimmed from one of those original sheets.
Dear Babe: I have a Christy Mathewson card (No. 408) that my father gave to me (photocopies enclosed).
Obviously, it is a well-loved great that is not in the best shape. If you tell me the card has no value,
I will allow my 10-year-old son to clip it to his bicycle tire as I once did with my Roger Maris and
Mickey Mantle cards (ouch!). Better he know the treasure he has than to find out 40 years later as I
Michael and Chris Lopian, Idyllwild
Whatever happens, it doesn't get much better than a father and son collecting together. For the record,
you've got a 1961 Topps card that was part of a 10-card subset entitled "Baseball Thrills,"
which spread over numbers 401-410. Beckett and Tuff Stuff list the card at $10-$20, but it usually sells
for much less in online auctions. As you noted, your card is showing its age with multiple creases front
and back, which leave it with virtually no value. I think the creases may even prevent it from sounding
good when clipped to a bicycle tire.
Dear Babe: I have a Honus Wagner autograph. I don't remember exactly when I got it, but I have had it
most of my life and I am 80. As you can see by the enclosed photocopy it says "Best wishes from J.
Honus Wagner, Pittsburg Pa., Sept. 20-22." I have some old newspapers that have Pittsburgh spelled
with the "h" as is the case with the paper signed by Wagner. I have it framed with a photo.
D.B., Loganville, Ga.
You've done exactly what I always recommend for folks with older "cut" signatures. They usually
look good when matted and framed with a nice photo. Tuff Stuff lists a Wagner "cut" signature at
$500. My only caution is that it appears that the signature with the addition of "Pittsburg Pa."
is written in a different style and ink pattern than the "Best wishes from" and "Sept. 20-22."
BABE NOTE: Topps is turning back the clock to celebrate its 50th year in the football card business
with nickel packs of cards for the NFL's kickoff weekend of Sept. 10-11. Collectors will be able to
purchase the special packs for the same price that Topps was selling cards for back in 1956. The special
50th anniversary packs will include the first five cards of a 22-card set with each card styled after the
1956 Topps design. Every week following "Turn Back the Clock" weekend, those same hobby shops
will have a different 50th anniversary football card from the special set. Of course, the only way to get
the anniversary card is to purchase a pack of any 2005 Topps Football products.
As an aside, Beckett is also helping Topps celebrate by including special cards in seven football guides
through the February issue. The first card, featuring top draft pick Alex Smith in the classic 1956 design,
was inserted into the August issue of the monthly football guide. The September issue included Mike Williams.
To find a participating Topps HTA store nearest you, dial 1-888-GO-TOPPS or visit www.topps.com/ and use
the Home Team Advantage (HTA) store locator.
About the author
Bill Wagner is a veteran journalist with 37 years in the newspaper business as well as being
a former Army combat correspondent in Vietnam. He developed the Babe Waxpak sports card column
in the 1980s and took over authorship in 1993, expanding into sports memorabilia and autographs
as well as answering questions on cards.
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