October Legends
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 11/2/2013

Every young boy who is thrilled with baseball has dreams of playing in the major leagues. These dreams follow the child all summer long when he watches or listens to his favorite team, or on those cherished days, when he gets to see his heroes live at the Stadium. Part of the process of this idolization is to learn everything you could about the players and teams, read the box scores in the morning (or evening paper…remember those?), and gather a detailed knowledge of every aspect of our National Game.

But the best way we, as children, learned about our diamond heroes were via the baseball card. Penny packs, nickel packs which eventually moved up to a dime, then a quarter…and now it’s unfathomable the prices they get for packs of cards.
But what did the children do from the early days of the game, when cards were issued not with gum, but in packs of tobacco and small boxes of cigarettes? Well, I guess they pushed their fathers to smoke, and maybe they insisted their fathers ask co-workers at the plant who did not have young boys to give them the cards they received in their packs. Kids sure have a knack for pressuring adults for the items they desire.

That is likely what happened to Clarence A. Barnes, a youngster who grew up in Mansfield, MA during the very early days of professional baseball. This was back when the game was played in knickers, using thin leather fingerless gloves (or no gloves at all), and huge hickory clubs for bats. Young Clarence grew up in late 1800s, likely rooting for the hometown team, salivating over every pitch, inning, game and season.

And Clarence collected those tiny baseball cards which came loaded in every pack of cigarettes, beginning the collecting bug which became deeply embedded within his blood. He didn’t just collect cards; he hoarded cards, played with the cards, organized his cards, but most of all, enjoyed his cards. And he hoarded cardboard treasures of almost every different genre including U.S. Buildings, Bathing Beauties, Actresses, Animals, Famous People, Soldiers, Flags, Flags and more Flags, War cards, Indian cards, Pirate cards, Boxers, Military cards…but especially baseball cards.

Oftentimes we receive a “childhood collection” which has a few hundred 1950s Topps and Bowman cards, hoping there is a key Mantle card or other rookie within to create excitement. This is an entirely different story. Presented is Clarence A. Barnes childhood collection of cards, a collection loaded with much youthful exuberance, imagination, history and intrigue. It is a childhood collection which has been passed down three generations without any disturbance from when they were originally loved.  No breaking up of this collection, no “cherry picking” of any key cards. It is intact as it was the last day young Mr. Barnes finished collecting cards…back in the early 1890s.

And young Mr. Barnes took his time; collecting, categorizing, and painstakingly displaying his treasures within the confines of two very large albums. Each card delicately pasted onto one of the many well-proportioned sheets within. This was a learning process for the inquiring Mr. Barnes; not only from the images these relics portrayed, but also of the method which he displayed them. Clarence applied many of his cards in the shapes of the alphabet, thus it was also a process where he was “learning his letters” as well as learning the printed information.

These two large volumes contain approximately 2,200 cards, all from the early tobacco card era of the late 1880s to 1890s. Within this large group are 252 baseball cards, mostly N172 Old Judge’s (including a Connie Mack and Roger Connor –Hands on knees, script variation), some Buchner Gold Coins, a handful of N28 Allen & Ginter’s plus a few Gypsy Queen’s including the ultra-scarce Roger Conner – Hands on knees.

Clarence A. Barnes Biography

Clarence Barnes was born on August 8, 1882, in Brooklyn, NY; born into a lineage from his mother’s side which dates all the way back to the Mayflower. When he was young, his family moved to Mansfield, MA on Martha’s Vineyard. From an early age, Barnes loved to play baseball, often playing games in local Waban Park. Barnes then began playing for the local Oak Bluffs team, and then matriculating his talents to Yale University, where he played three seasons for the varsity nine. Playing centerfield and leading off, Barnes was so adept at baseball; he was considered “one of the best college outfielders among the big teams.” In his final year at Yale in 1905, during the Commencement game versus Harvard, Barnes hit a big home run to win the game and the championship for Yale. This day was also the 25th Anniversary of the 1880 graduating class, of which Barnes’ father was a member, and the proud pop (and all his buddies) was in attendance.

Barnes’ exploits on the baseball field were so strong, he attracted attention from both Boston area teams, and Boston Manager (and Hall of Famer) Jimmy Collins even tried him out, then “offered Barnes a handsome salary.” However, this opportunity to play professional baseball for the defending World Series Champions did not entice Barnes enough to forgo his new passion, which was the study of law, and Barnes passed on the major leagues. He attended and graduated from Yale Law School, began working in Boston as a lawyer, before growing in the ranks of the local Republican Party. Eventually Barnes became Massachusetts Attorney General in 1945, serving until 1949, then ran for Governor in 1950, but lost to Arthur Coolidge, a cousin of the former President of the United States.

All this time, Clarence Barnes kept these special notebooks, filled with pages of heroes and childhood dreams. The overall collection includes over 2,200 cards, including the 252 baseball cards. The 1900+ other cards include the popular actresses, military leaders and pugilists among the others. Some of the key subjects are cards of Lillian Russell, Ulysses S. Grant and Old Judge’s of John L. Sullivan and Jack Dempsey. A few examples of the Allen & Ginter album pages are also included. There are 177 N172 Old Judge cards, of which 23 are Hall of Famers; 65 Buchner Gold Coins, of which 13 are Hall of Famers; seven N28 cards with three Hall of Famers (Anson, Kelly and Ward), plus three N175 Gypsy Queens with Roger Conner (Hand on knees), Tim Keefe and Buck Ewing. The N172s have many difficult and popular cards with two spotted ties (Mays and Nelson), four St. Louis Goodwin Champions cards, two Mascot’s including an example of the very popular Mascot with Williamson card. There are also a multitude of non-Hall of Fame players who command increased enthusiasm among collectors with several cards each of Charlie Ferguson (a virtual lock HOF pitcher who died at age 25 with 99 career victories in only four seasons!), Billy Sunday (a very speedy outfielder who became the early 20th Century’s most revered preacher) and Dave Foutz, star pitcher and hitter for the St. Louis Browns World Series teams of the 1880s.

In addition, there are the big boys beginning with the N175 1887 Gypsy Queen Roger Connor – Hands on Knees. This N175 Gypsy Queen issue is one of the rarest 19th century card issues known, with only 167 professionally graded examples, with no examples of the Roger Connor – Hand on Knees. This cards exhibits a crease, not by handling but created by the rolling machine used in the manufacturing process. This “fault” is sometimes seen on Goodwin and Co. cards. The Spotted tie card of Jack Nelson also has a similar roll crease. Two other Gypsy Queens of Tim Keefe and Buck Ewing are also key cards. It is amazing this collection included three Gypsy Queens, but all three are key HOFers of the New York Giants team. There are also some pretty important N172 Old Judge’s with two Mike “King” Kelly cards, Four Buck Ewings, three overall Roger Connor’s, and single examples of Connie Mack and Harry Wright.

One of the N172 Kelly's is the Bat in Left hand at side (254-7). Tim Keefe is presented in a Bat at Nearly Vertical (251-6) pose. Connie Mack’s example is the famous Stooping, hands on knees card (285-2), while Harry Wright’s card is the portrait (510-3), a very large version with full, even borders. One Roger Connor card (88-2), has him with his hands waist high, but also has his full name and position in white print. Also, there are Roger Connor hand on knees (88-1) and the “$10,000 King Kelly” cards (254-2), both very desirable “script” variations which excludes the standard Old Judge nameplate for the players name scripted in white. There are a total of 19 script variations in the Old Judge set. Bid McPhee makes an appearance here with card number (317-2), one of the most recent 19th century HOFers, and one of the greatest fielding second basemen of all time.

There are many tremendous cards in the overall collection, but specifically the baseball issues. As we mentioned earlier, there are 42 Hall of Famers with many key rarities, many very popular non-HOFers and a trio of Gypsy Queen HOFers including the extremely rare Roger Connor – Hands on Knees. Cap Anson makes an appearance with his N28 example along with an N284 Buchner Gold Coin card.

Although Clarence Barnes did not continue with his career on the diamond, he continued to pass these treasures down the family line; a line descended from the original Pilgrims who washed ashore at Plymouth Rock. These two volumes of cards were consigned by Clarence Barnes’ daughter from his second marriage, who still lives in Boston. There is no doubt the break value on the individual cards would bring a significant sum, but it was our consignors wishes these two volumes remain intact as this was the way her father collected, saved and worshipped his collection, and how it was passed down. While we understand that the break value of the individual cards is quite substantial, we firmly believe, as does our consignor, the historical significance and value of these weighty tomes are far greater than the sum of their parts.


For serious bidders, we have produced independent spiral bound catalogs solely with images of all the baseball cards within this collection, with a complete spreadsheet listing including Old Judge catalog pose numbers. These catalogs are available upon request. In addition, we highly recommend serious bidders to schedule an appointment to view this item in person, as the magnitude of this collection can only be realized in person. Call our office to schedule your own private viewing. 

Goldin Auctions is extremely proud to offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire an original childhood card collection from the late 1800s; a collection of all original cards completely fresh to the hobby and compiled by a superb American descended from one of the most distinguished families in American history.


NOTE: The Gypsy Queen Roger Connor and the Spotted Tie card of Jack Nelson do not have creases as stated in the description, but contain tears of the photographic image. These tears originate from the original printing process and do not proceed through to the reverse of the card. 

Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $15,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium.: $87,207.95
Number Bids: 18
Auction closed on Saturday, November 2, 2013.
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