Perhaps the best accumulation of golf trading cards ever assembled has been consigned to Robert Edward Auctions and will be offered for public sale next spring.
“This is without a doubt the finest golf card collection anyone has ever seen come into the market,” said REA president Rob Lifson. “It’s plain to see that an unbelievable amount of time has been put into assembling these sets. Jack just put his heart and soul into it and the result is really amazing.”
The collection includes ten sets that are ranked #1 on the PSA Set Registry, nine of which are 100% complete. Dozens of cards in the collection are regarded as the finest known examples. The fully graded and authenticated cards and sets are generally NM and NM-MT or better, a remarkable task that took Zugay over 20 years to complete.
The total book value of the collection is at least $125,000, but considering the scarcity of so many of the cards, it’s likely the auction results will redefine the market.
“I focused my collection targeting only the rarest and best preserved examples that I could find,” Zugay explained. “I was fortunate to get to know many collectors and dealers across the globe over an extended period of time. As a result, many of my key purchases were done through private transactions.”
Zugay’s collection includes a virtual checklist of exceptionally rare sets and singles. The 1927 Churchman Famous Golfers Large set that will be offered was honored as the 2009 Miscellaneous Sport Set of the Year by PSA.
Other sets to be offered include: 1923 Cope Brothers & Co. Golf Strokes, 1924 W.D. & H.O. Wills Golfing, 1928 Millhoff Famous Golfers, 1928 W.A. & A.C. Churchman Famous Golfers (Large), 1930 W.D. & H.O. Wills Famous Golfers, 1931 Churchman Large Golf, 1936 John Cotton Ltd. Golf Strokes A/B, 1936 John Player and Son Championship Golf Courses and 1937 John Cotton Ltd. Golf Strokes C/D.
Among the most desirable single cards is the extremely rare 1932 Abdulla Bobby Jone, which Zugay acquired from a private collector in Hawaii some 15 years ago. “He wanted $1400 for it,” Zugay recalled. “I thought the price was too high but bought it because it was in great condition and I knew that cards from this set were made to be glued into an album. This card had no traces of glue on the back. Today, that card sits in a PSA 8 holder with a SMR value of $14,500 and is undoubtedly one of the rarest of all Bobby Jones cards in the hobby today.”
Golf legends like Jones, Harry Vardon, Francis Ouimet, Gene Sarazen, Walter Hagen and Jack Nicklaus and legendary courses like St. Andrews and Turnberry are depicted throughout the collection.
Zugay began collecting golf cards as an outgrowth of his close association with another of the game’s true legends. He worked for Arnold Palmer via International Management Group (IMG) as the Chief Financial Officer/Treasurer of the Arnold Palmer Family office for 26 years.
“The first card I collected was actually a set of 1928 Millhoff Famous Golfers,” Zugay said. The set of 27 photo cards remains one of his favorites as it features Bobby Jones, Walter Hagen and the top women players of the era.
Once an afterthought among North American collectors, golf cards have increased in popularity. Zugay cited the 1994 publication of Golf Card Prices by Smedley & Berdock and the development of the Sportscard Market Report from PSA.
“Both of these publications helped document and increase awareness of golf card collecting to the sports card hobby in whole. Without these two sources, golf card collecting would remain in the dark ages for sure. The SMR, with its updated pricing guide and the PSA population report for golf cards have given the collector excellent resources as to both rarity and cost.”
In fact, Zugay’s collection was the subject of an extensive feature story in the November 2008 issue of SMR. PSA President Joe Orlando calls Zugay “the king of golf cards”.
“I have been fortunate to have been at it a little longer than most and set my sights on acquiring rarities early on,” Zugay stated. “Today, most collectors have more tools available to them to know what cards are truly rare and valuable. I do predict that golf cards will continue to increase in price over time and that they remain significantly undervalued as compared to other sports.”
None of the cards in Zugay’s collection have qualifiers. Many will be seen at public sale for the first time and it’s likely that the auction will attract bidders from around the world. Zugay is proud of what he accomplished while putting together the collection, but says his decision to consign the set to REA was an easy one.
“I had begun collecting as a hobby while fulfilling my duties as a caregiver for my former disabled spouse. Those responsibilities ended a few years ago. Secondly, I thought selling would create opportunities for others who love the sport of golf to also be exposed to golf card collecting. Many people are totally unaware that golf cards even exist.”
REA will present the cards in its always highly anticipated annual spring auction beginning in April of 2011. “Seeing this collection so full of golf history in this type of condition is a real treat,” Lifson said. “It’s a true privilege to offer it.”
“I am thrilled and delighted by Rob’s enthusiasm for my golf card collection as he immediately recognized the time and effort that I spent over 20 years to assemble it,” Zugay said. . “I believe the collecting public will be appreciative of my collecting eye and will enable them to acquire golf cards and sets that are of the highest quality ever assembled. Hopefully, the new owners will love and cherish these wonderful pieces of golf history as much as I did.”
Robert Edward Auctions provides free catalogs upon request and is still accepting consignments for its next auction. To learn more about Robert Edward Auctions, to receive a complimentary copy of the catalog, or to inquire about consignments, visit www.robertedwardauctions.com or call 908-226-9900.