Mile High Card Company (MHCC) to offer the #2 Current and All-Time Finest PSA Registry Set in exclusive August Auction
In the years following World War I and into the Great Depression, the business practice of offering baseball cards as an added incentive for choosing a product over a competitor virtually died out with struggling companies looking for any way to cut costs. But in the early 1930s, public optimism over FDR’s “New Deal” and the popularity of Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees led to a revival of the baseball card market. Several gum and candy companies, primarily from the Boston area, attempted to capitalize by producing baseball card sets and offering cards with a purchase, resurrecting the tradition that so dominated the late 19th and early 20th Century. While Goudey, National Chicle (Diamond Stars), DeLong and U. S. Caramel are considered the premier collections of their time, the most enigmatic and elusive of all is the mysterious George C. Miller collection, designated R300 in the American Card Catalog. Mile High Card Company is proud to offer one of the finest complete George C. Miller sets in existence, which will be featured in our exclusive August auction.
Because of extremely limited distribution, little is known about the 32-card set other than it features artistic renderings of actual photographs with a presentation similar to Diamond Stars cards and can easily be mistaken by collectors unfamiliar with the Miller collection. The portraits on the George C. Miller cards have a less refined appearance compared to Diamond Stars cards and are identifiable by the backdrop, a striped blue and red sky pattern, and no player names on the front. The reverse is unique, offering the players’ vital information, 1932 and career statistics, a checklist of the entire set, and details to redeem the set for a prize. Two players are represented from each of the 16 major league teams, with Jimmy Foxx, Dizzy Dean and Lefty Grove leading a group of stars and Hall of Famers. It is unknown as to why the Yankees are represented by Red Ruffing and Bill Dickey instead of Ruth and Gehrig; perhaps the two Yankee legends’ request for compensation was too high. Two different reverses were produced: Type I has larger, brighter print with the names of Foxx and Klein spelled incorrectly, revised to the correct spelling on the Type II reverse. As with other companies that offered a prize for the redemption of a complete set, one “chase-card” was extremely short-printed to increase sales from patrons determined to assemble a complete set. Just like Goudey’s 1933 Napoleon Lajoie and U. S. Caramel’s Charles Lindstrom and William McKinley cards, the George C. Miller card of Paul “Ivy” Andrews ranks as one of the most formidable acquisitions in card collecting. So difficult to obtain, PSA doesn’t even consider it part of the set, viewing it as a “bonus card” on the PSA Set Registry. The cards were offered in wax wrappers touting “National Ball Game Toffee” and “American Ball Game Toffee”, the themed wrappers giving collectors a better opportunity to acquire the players of their choice and more accurately target the goal of assembling a complete set. Less than 5 wrappers of each are known to exist and an American League specimen recently sold at auction for over $5,000.
Several facts contribute to the extreme rarity of the George C. Miller collection. The Miller Candy Co. was much smaller than other companies that issued sets and the cards were only available in the Greater Boston area. Also, the cards were marketed for children, not known for their ability to take great care of … well, much of anything, and a complete set was redeemable for a ball, glove, or ticket to a big league game. The cards that were sent in had the bottom edge cut off or had holes punched in them and were returned to the sender along with their prize, assuring that the cards could not be sent again. Quite often, the children would then discard the damaged pasteboards having already reached their goal of acquiring the prize. Even if a forward-thinking collector managed to sidestep those pitfalls, staining from the toffee candy was a common occurrence and lessened the chance of retaining high-grade specimens right from the start. As a result, less than 3% of all George C. Miller cards submitted to PSA have graded above PSA 6.
So just how rare are George C. Miller cards? The answer is … very! Even as early as the 1950s, George C. Miller cards were rarely encountered and considered as scarce as many obscure issues from the late 1800s. The DeLong set, also from 1933, is considered difficult, yet the 649 George C. Miller submissions to PSA is just 26% of the total number of DeLongs that PSA has graded. Each of the four Babe Ruth cards in the 1933 Goudey set has a higher submission rate than the entire George C. Miller set. In fact, the most highly submitted card from the set (Charlie Gehringer – 29) pales in comparison to the number of 1933 Goudey Napoleon Lajoie cards that PSA has evaluated (81), an example that routinely sells for tens of thousands of dollars.
The set, to be featured in August, is a complete 32-card collection and includes the extraordinarily rare Paul “Ivy” Andrews card. At a set rating of 5.532, this collection ranks as the #2 Current and All-Time Finest set. The top ranked collection, with a set rating of 6.2, sold for just over $246,000 at auction a few years back, an indicator as to the extreme rarity and exalted status of the offered collection. Hall of Famers Earl Averill (PSA 4.5, one of 3 with none higher) and Frank Frisch (PSA 5, one of 3 with none higher) are at the top of the PSA grading scale for all specimens extant. MHCC has had the opportunity to offer pricier sets in the past, but this George C. Miller collection may very well be the most impressive assemblage we’ve ever offered for its extreme difficulty to complete.