Christy Mathewson was one of the most remarkable pitchers of the early 20thcentury. His on-field performances helped to propel baseball into a national pastime and the New York Giants (now San Francisco Giants) into perennial contenders. A rarity in the early pro game as a college graduate with business sense and personal decorum to complement his competitive nature, Christy Mathewson is one of the few pitchers who command premium baseball card valuations.
Collectability of Christy Mathewson memorabilia
Mathewson was fortunate enough to be able to spend most of his career playing in a major market. A significant portion of the baseball card collecting community builds their collections around team or era themes. Matty’s cards fall into the pre-war era, and specifically into the tobacco card era. Because the Giants were located in New York, a major market, collecting and investment demand is strong. However, it's Mathewson's amazing records--and tragic early death from poison gas exposure as a soldier during World War I-- that attract droves of collectors, fans and investors. In a sense, he's seen a bit like an early Lou Gehrig.
Besides being an early inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame, he is a member of several, statistical “clubs”, including the 300 win, 100 all-time strikeout pitchers, Sporting News 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and many more.
From an investment perspective, these club memberships are important for two reasons. First, segments of the baseball card investing community build up their portfolios with players, who fall into one or more of these clubs. This ensures steady card demand.
The other benefit relates to his standings on key milestone lists. As current players climb up the lofty charts in wins, shut-outs, and other career milestones, their quests spark interest in retired players, who they pass. The result is increased media attention and investment demand. Roger Maris and Mark McGwire are an example. As Mark closed in on the single-season home run record, demand for Roger Maris cards increased dramatically.
As always with vintage cards, buying the best example you can afford is usually good advice. The more scarce a card is in higher grade, the more demand and competition will exist when it comes time to sell.
Christy Mathewson autographs
Mathewson was known as a friendly sort, but his career played out in an era before the autograph was really popular. His post-career life is where most Matty autographs originate. Signed checks are among the most sought after, valuable and stable investments as they are extremely difficult to counterfeit. Mathewson authored some books but often times, the signature on the inside cover is that of his wife.
Top Christy Mathewson Cards
(click the links to see them for sale and auction)
1914 Cracker Jack, #88 – This card features an action lithograph of the player. The 1914 Cracker Jack cards were only available through boxes of the tasty treat and Mathewson's card is among the most valuable in the set. Often found in lower grade, it is still worth several thousand dollars--much higher in better grade.
1902 – 1911 Sporting Life Cabinet – Cabinet cards are unique in that they feature the actual photograph of the player. When coupled with their scarcity, it is difficult to obtain these cards in any condition.
1909 M101-2 Sporting News Supplement-- Given away weekly with an issue, the TSN Supplements are printed on paper stock and as such, susceptible to wear. They are oversized, like a small poster, but Mathewson's card, which shows him in a pitching motion, wearing the large "NY" on his flannel uniform, is gorgeous, even in black and white.
1911 Turkey Red T3 – Another oversized card, the T3 is a cabinet card that could be obtained by sending in three coupons from packs of cigarettes. Printed on heavy card stock and measuring 5-3/4” x 8”, the cards were designed for display. Expect to pay $2,500 and up for a nicer one.
1909-1911 T206 Portrait – Of course, this card is considered the pinnacle of Christy’s cards. Fortunately, there is a significant supply on the market, providing investors ample liquidity and investing opportunities at all grades. Lower-grade cards are extremely reasonable and can be purchased for less than $2,000. Matty's pitching poses are more readily available in this iconic set.
In fact, if you're building a collection of Mathewson cards on a budget, here are some lower cost options.
There are almost always Christy Mathewson cards available for purchase as collectors and investors are constantly looking for them and not all are as pricey as some of those listed above.