Collectors of baseball cards have Honus Wagner. Fans of football cardboard have John Dunlop. Just Collect is excited to offer the ‘holy grail’ of football cards in this week’s listings: an 1894 Mayo’s Cut Plug John Dunlop, graded SGC 20. It’s simply one of the rarest cards in the hobby and atop the list of any serious collector of football cards. We’d normally say ‘good luck finding one’, but the fact is, we are offering one right now at what we believe is a value price.
Mayo’s represent the only 19th century trading card set that was devoted exclusively to football. At that time, there literally was no pro football, so this set (issued with cans of plug tobacco) features Ivy League college football players. Mayo Tobacco Works must have lost track of who was who, because a card was produced that was absent of a player name, and was identified as “Anonymous.” In later years, collectors discovered it was John Dunlop - a four-year Harvard letterman who later coached the Crimson backfield. It is the only N302 card without a player or team designation.
Mayo’s also produced a baseball card set during the same era. Both are known for being susceptible to wear because of their black borders, so any example graded beyond “Authentic” is a true rarity. To make matters worse, it was common practice for youngsters to trim the borders or glue the cards into albums for storage. Of the 12 Mayo Dunlop cards graded by either PSA or SGC, half have been deemed “Poor” or “Authentic”. Just one has graded even as high as VG-EX.
A complete set of 35 Mayo Football cards, regarded as one of the best ever pieced together (but still averaging no better than about a ‘2’ grade), sold at auction two years ago for more than $35,000!
The comparison with the Wagner card isn’t a stretch, even though the baseball ‘grail’ is far more valuable. In fact, there are only about 15 known copies of the Mayo Dunlop in the hobby – about one-fifth the number of T206 Wagners.
The most famous T206 Wagner, once owned by Wayne Gretzky, was recently purchased by Arizona Diamondbacks owner, Ken Kendrick. The hobby has become accustomed to seeing sports owners and executives purchase rare cards like this for their collections, or for investment purposes. Now think about this, if every NFL owner wanted to own the greatest football card in the world, the Dunlop Mayo, there wouldn’t be enough to go around! This is exactly why we are so excited to auction off this rare piece of football history. Our Dunlop has a starting bid of just $15,000, with a slightly higher Buy it Now offer. We believe this card is undervalued considering its scarcity, but even if you’ve never seen one before and just want to take a look, it’s worth checking out.