Move Over “Slow Joe” – There’s A New Doyle In Town!

Published by Robert Lifson on Tagged Uncategorized


                                          click image to enlarge

Over the past year we’ve had a lot of fun on the REA blog documenting the significance and intrigue of the rare T206 of “Slow Joe” Doyle, and, in the process, putting into focus why this card is such a big deal. The Charlie Conlon T206 Doyle example, offered in the April 2009 REA auction, sold for a record $329,000. (Here’s a link to the auction:

For the upcoming auction, we have just received another Doyle. No, it’s not the rare T206 Doyle, New York Nat’l.  It’s much rarer!

It is an 1889 N172 Old Judge of Cornelius Doyle of the San Francisco team of the California League. In addition to being very distinctive and fascinating, all California League Old Judges are incredibly rare. Only one example of many N172 California League players (including this one) is even known to exist. This is the first California League Old Judge we have EVER had the opportunity to auction, and the only other example we have ever had (and we’ve had thousands of Old Judges over the years) is a trimmed example we sold as a favor to hobby legend Lew Lipset over thirty years ago that we got from the Kurzrok collection.

It is just a coincidence that Cornelius Doyle happens to share the same last name as the T206 set’s rare “Slow Joe” Doyle. We KNOW it doesn’t make any sense, but this coincidence really does make the rarity of this card all the more amusing and interesting to us. We’re only human! What can we say? But more important, this is also just a beautiful card in all respects. And anyone familiar with Old Judges, we think, will look at this card and be struck by how unusual and unfamiliar it is. The Old Judge book pictures nineteen N172 California League players (including Doyle; this card is the plate specimen). It would be hard to imagine that most or all collectors would not agree that Doyle is one of the very best looking of these ultimate Old Judge rarities, in terms of overall condition, contrast, and background detail. The contrast and overall condition of this card is rivaled only by only a few other examples, including Lew Lipset’s ridiculously high-grade McDonald (Oaklands), one of the best cards in the world and which he has assured all who have asked that it will literally have to be pried from his hands after his passing (and, really, we don’t think he’s kidding).

We are excited about this Doyle card. It’s not everyday that we get a California League Old Judge (it’s been thirty years since the last one) and thought collectors would appreciate seeing it early.

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