The Joe Pelaez Collection

Published by Robert Lifson on Tagged Uncategorized

 t206-doyle.JPG  t206-doyle-back.JPG  joseph-m-pelaez.jpg  t206-plank.JPG  t206-plank-back.JPG

……..T206 Doyle NY Nat’l…………………………….Joe Pelaez………………………………T206 Eddie Plank……

Joe Pelaez (1931-2010) was one of the hobby’s most colorful and passionate collectors. He was a true elder statesmen and ambassador of the field. His passing in 2010 was a great loss to his friends, family, and to the collecting world. His greatest prize without question was one of the very few authentic examples of the famous T206 “Slow Joe” Doyle, N.Y. Nat’l rarity. To Joe, the rare Doyle card, its discovery, understanding its great significance to the T206 set, and seeing con artists over the years trying to create fakes of this monumental T206 rarity, embodied all that was fascinating about the famous T206 set and vintage card collecting.

Joe loved to talk about cards and was always extremely generous with his great knowledge. He was a throwback to an earlier time, a hobbyist whose interest in card collecting had nothing to do with values. He just loved cards, was a true scholar, and immensely enjoyed the interaction with his fellow collectors. His extremely successful efforts to expose fake T206 Doyle and Magie error cards produced by criminals practically single-handedly (with assists by hobby legends such as Lew Lipset, Larry Frisch, Mark Macrae, and Bob Lemke) helped to eliminate the problem, educate collectors of the short-lived scam, and no doubt saved many from losing small fortunes to fraud. Joe was outspoken! He was always happy to engage in heated discussions about everything from hobby issues to politics. That was part of his charm! He was also a true patriot who very proudly served his country in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War.

It is an honor to have been chosen by the Pelaez family to handle the sale of The Joe Pelaez Collection.  Joe was well known for his emphasis on studying and collecting the famous T206 set and for having one of, if not the most complete collections of T209 Contentnea tobacco cards ever assembled (just a few short of a complete set of all known cards in the set). He also actively collected the T217 Mono Tobacco set and, in his later years no less, even embarked on the seemingly impossible task of collecting the 640-card T210 Old Mill Tobacco set. (He never finished the T210 project but did make a serious dent.)  For many years we have known that Joe had these sets, as his collecting was very focused on these particular areas. But when we picked up his collection we were surprised to find Joe had many additional cards that he had never mentioned to us. Not surprisingly, most were tobacco cards, including a set of T201 Mecca Double Folders and a beautiful set of T205 Gold Borders. He also had an impressive small collection of N172 Old Judge cards and a selection of Cuban cards from the 1920s to the 1940s which was not all that surprising to find as he was very proud of his Cuban heritage. We are still finding cards of Adolfo Luque, one of his favorite players, tucked away as we are sorting!

Of special note was the fact that Joe had not one but two sets of T206s. One was in fairly high grade, obviously upgraded over the years and simply a beautiful set. The other was, well, in pretty rough shape. Not that Joe was a condition fanatic (and as anyone who knew Joe could tell you, he had no use for grading companies; we can’t tell you how many broken grading cases we found as he “released” T210s from their plastic holders as when he picked them up, many happened to be graded). This second T206 set was his “pedestrian” set, assembled just for fun because he couldn’t get enough of a good thing.

Joe liked to share, and many collectors had the joy of sitting down at conventions in or near Joe’s home state of Virginia area (tobacco country!) and being amazed as Joe would actually bring his T206 Doyle, T206 set, and many other rarities out of a knapsack like a magician. For many advanced T206 collectors (and in his day at one time or another Joe knew them all), his was the only authentic rare Doyle card they would ever get to see in person. He loved to tell the story of how he bought this iconic card in Lew Lipset’s auction when it was offered in 1990 for the then “outrageous” sum of $19,000. He just had to have it; in his eyes it was better than a Wagner; and as he told the story he always added with self-depreciating humor that he was “out of his league!” At the time it was the second-highest price ever paid for a baseball card at auction, trailing only the then-record $25,011 realized several years earlier for a T206 Wagner (also sold at auction by Lew Lipset). Joe’s collection is not the largest or the most valuable ever handled by Robert Edward Auctions. In fact, it is relatively modest compared to many others. But this is a special collection, assembled by a collecting legend who left a big footprint in the world and the hobby. It is a special honor for us to present The Joe Pelaez Collection. And Joe, we know you are watching, and we hope you will forgive us for getting a few cards such as the T206 Doyle and T206 Plank graded. We thought that would be in the best interests of your family. But remember, they can always be broken out!

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