Hake's Sells Extremely Rare CSG-certified Jose Mendez Card for Over $19,000

Posted on 3/16/2022

The offering from the Richard Merkin Collection was in the spotlight at the March 2022 sale.

An extremely rare baseball card graded by Certified Sports Guaranty® (CSG®) sold for over $19,000 at a Hake’s auction. It was one of several CSG-certified cards from Romeo and Julieta Cigars that were offered in the sale, which was held March 15-16, 2022.

Graded CSG 2.5 and pedigreed to the Richard Merkin Collection, the c.1922 Romeo and Julieta Cigars Jose Mendez card realized a price of $19,470. The card features a silver gelatin photo of Mendez on the front and statistics on the back. Currently, it is the only known example of this card.

Click images to enlarge.

Cuba has long produced some of baseball’s biggest stars. One of the first Cuban players to shine in America was the “Black Diamond” — Jose Mendez. The ace pitcher was born in Cuba during the mid- to late 1880s. Much of his career was played in Cuba before joining the Kansas City Monarchs in 1920. Mendez was posthumously elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

“This Jose Mendez card was an absolute joy to grade,” said Andy Broome, CSG Senior Grading Finalizer. “Rare vintage cards like this will never stop amazing me, as they show the history and depth of our hobby.”

The 1922 Romeo and Julieta cigar set was originally known as the result of a few surviving boxing cards. The baseball cards and boxing cards look similar but feature different backs. It was not known that the baseball and boxing cards were part of one multi-sport set until the discovery of a 1922 Romeo and Julieta sports card album set the record straight. Unfortunately, very few cards have survived from this set.

Four other cards from this rare set, also pedigreed to the Richard Merkin Collection, were also sold in this same auction:

  • a c.1922 Romeo and Julieta Cigars Heliodoro Hidalgo graded CSG 3 sold for $1,427
  • a c.1922 Romeo and Julieta Cigars F. Espineira graded CSG 2 sold for $519
  • a c.1922 Romeo and Julieta Cigars R. Ramos graded CSG 3 sold for $519
  • a c.1922 Romeo and Julieta Cigars M. Santamaria graded CSG 2 sold for $519

Richard Merkin was a well-known artist and illustrator for The New Yorker, Harper’s and The New York Times, who also taught at the Rhode Island School of Design. Merkin assembled a huge collection of baseball cards spanning the 1800s through the 1950s, including Cuban baseball, Latin American Leagues and Negro Leagues. He passed away in 2009, and only recently has his collection been offered to the public.

Prices realized include buyer's premium.

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