A 1948 Leaf Rocky Graziano, mysterious in its scarcity, has been consigned to an eBay auction.
It may not grab the headlines usually generated by the sale of a T206 Honus Wagner baseball card, but to some collectors it is the Holy Grail of boxing cards.
Just a handful of 1948 Leaf Rocky Graziano cards have survived and one of the higher quality examples is about to be sold. Recently consigned to Kevin Savage Cards of Ohio, the card (graded PSA 4 VG-EX) has been listed on eBay with a minimum bid of $25,000.
While vintage card collectors dream of owning a Wagner, said to number less than 100 in total, boxing collectors would love a Graziano--if they could only find one.
"It would shock me if there are more than ten," Savage told Sports Collectors Daily. "I've been lucky enough to have seen two of them over the years and I've probably seen ten T206 Wagner cards."
Of course, more people collect baseball cards than boxing and the Wagner comes from the ultra-popular tobacco series issued from 1909-1911, but Savage says even serious baseball collectors have expressed an interest in buying the Graziano card. No one knows for certain why only a few have surfaced in the 59 years since the set was produced.
The 1948 Leaf and 1951 Topps Ringside issues, which featured some big name fighters and are two of just a small number of vintage boxing sets issued, are popular with collectors. The Graziano card has made it virtually impossible, however, for an average collector to own a truly complete set of 1948 Leaf. Uncut sheets of surviving '48 Leaf show seven rows of seven cards, which leads many to believe the Graziano was a salesman's sample or pulled from production very early in the process for some unexplained reason. The set is skip-numbered to 102.
Three of the Graziano cards known to exist have been graded by PSA, with none rated higher than a 5. A few non-graded examples could be hiding in other private collections.
Savage believes the PSA 4 card, which was consigned by a private collector he's known for several years, is the same one which sold at auction in 2001 for $17,903.
"He's just liquidating part of his collection and he just decided this was a card he wanted to sell. We've had some offers but he's turned them down. He just wants to auction it and see what happens."