Saw this in the the Miami Herald website this morning. I too, would be concerned about spending that amount of money on an uncertified set:

Rare baseball card set for sale online

A complete set of trading cards that includes Cuban and Negro Leagues players is available at auction.
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Take the rarity of a complete set of pre-1950s baseball cards. Compound that with the rarity of cards from the 1920s. Compound that with the rarity of cards in an album for which they were designed. Double compound that with the rarity of cards depicting stars from the Cuban Leagues or Negro Leagues.

What you get is, if authentic, one of the most unique pieces of Cuban sports memorabilia or any kind of sports memorabilia: the 900-card 1924-25 Aguilitas Segundas set, which includes 44 baseball cards of Cuban Leagues players and 856 stars of Cuban pop culture, in the original album. The auction ends Thursday night on SCP Auctions site.

``It's an incredible find in our field,'' SCP Auctions managing director Don Imler said. ``We've never even had a complete set of the baseball players, which are only 44 of the 900 cards in the set. You only see a smattering of single examples turn up in the marketplace from time to time -- they're incredibly fragile, almost 100 years old -- very few are in circulation to begin with.''

How rare? Just the single card of Negro Leagues star Oscar Charleston, professionally graded by Sportscard Guaranty at a 1 because of a pinhole near the top of the card, went for $8,124 in an auction on Goodwin & Co.'s website last September.

The bid for the set late Wednesday was $25,941.

Charleston, a Baseball Hall of Famer, would be the most well-known name in the set among modern fans and was one of many who played in both the United States' Negro Leagues and in the integrated Cuban League. Also included in the set are Negro Leagues greats John Henry ``Pop'' Lloyd and Biz Mackey, both enshrined in Cooperstown; Negro Leagues star Dick Lundy; Cristobal Torriente, considered possibly the greatest Cuban position player ever; and Jose Mendez, perhaps the greatest Cuban pitcher of the first half of the 20th century.

Cuban baseball card aficionados consider this set one of the most important card sets produced. To find such a set in its completed condition wouldn't be like finding the Holy Grail because those looking for the Holy Grail are sure it exists.

``Anything from the 1920s, to have anything complete -- 900 cards is a huge set -- from that far back is scarce,'' said Kevin Palczynski, owner of Kendall's Bases Loaded, as he looked at the auction. ``This would be next to impossible to put together in today's world.''


According to Imler and the auction description, the set's original owner brought it with him to the United States from Cuba in 1958. He gave the album to his nephew years later and it stayed in a storage box until recently pulled out by the nephew. SCP Auctions is selling it on consignment and will collect both a seller's commission and buyer's premium, 20 percent of the winning bid.


Imler was asked how SCP authenticated such a rare item.

``We ourselves are the first line of defense,'' Imler said. ``Our entire staff has over 100 years of experience. And we have third party authentication companies in certain cases.''

Grading by companies such as PSA or Beckett Grading Services involves putting the card in a sealed plastic or glass holder (commonly called ``slabbing'' by collectors) with the grade, based on the card's centering, sharpness of corners, and fading, among other factors. Because SCP wanted to keep the cards in the album, Imler said the cards ``weren't really candidates for the third-party grading.

``We've seen enough other authentic examples to know what we're looking at.'' Palczynski possesses some cards from that era in his store, among them a 1916 card of Shoeless Joe Jackson, the Chicago White Sox superstar who was banned from baseball after the Black Sox scandal. He said were he the seller, he still would have had the best 100 cards in the set graded, despite the cost of $5-$10 per card, and would have gone with a large auction house on the level of Christy's or Sotheby's.

To buyers, Palczynski said an Internet auction for an ungraded set, ``raises concerns about authenticity or condition.''

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