Outstanding 1916 M101-5 #176 Jim Thorpe Rookie Card – Blank Back SGC 5 EX - "Pop 1"; Only 4 SGC Examples Graded Higher!
When considering the greatest athletes of the 20th century, the names that immediately come to mind are Babe Ruth, Jessie Owens, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Magic Johnson, Muhammad Ali, etc. One athlete, however, who must be placed in the mix for this most prestigious honor is the immortal Jim Thorpe who not only dominated various Olympic events, but played professional baseball and football as well! In fact, the Associated Press named Thorpe the world's greatest athlete in 1950 and placed him third in their 1999 century vote. Thorpe won gold medals for both the Pentathlon and Decathlon events in the 1912 Olympics, became a collegiate All-American football player in 1911 and 1912, and then played both professional baseball and football.
And you thought Babe Ruth's pitching and hitting skills were impressive? There are only a handful of Thorpe cards available for cardboard enthusiasts to collect, with his most desirable and valuable issue being the ever so coveted 1916 M101-5 subject that stands as Thorpe's "true" rookie card. Indeed, save for the Babe Ruth M101 rookie card, Thorpe's M101-5 #176 subject is the most sought-after card in this illustrious set, for it was only issued in the popular M101-5 series that included "Blank Backs", Famous & Barr, Standard Biscuit, Morehouse Baking, Successful Farming and Holmes to Homes. Its extreme rarity stems from the fact that Thorpe did not partake in the 1916 baseball season, with the Felix Mendelsohn printing/publishing company removing his subject from the later printed M101-4 Sporting News series and replacing Thorpe with Cleveland Indians infielder Terry Turner. As vintage enthusiasts are aware, the M101-4 related sets include a greater number of ad-back issues, denying collectors a more plentiful number of potential Jim Thorpe rookie cards.
As part of this amazing "fresh to the hobby" M101-5 find, presented here happens to be one of the finest preserved Jim Thorpe rookie cards you will ever come across; a stellar SGC 5 EX offering that just happens to be the SOLE SGC example at this mid-grade plateau with a mere four SGC specimens graded higher. Its ultimate scarcity is justified by the combined SGC (10) and PSA (12) 'Pop" Charts listing only 22 encapsulated copies. Thorpe's MLB career commenced in 1913 when the fleet footed outfielder tallied 35 official at-bats with John McGraw's New York Giants. Unfortunately for Thorpe, he played only six seasons, ending his career in 1919 on a high note with the Boston Braves by batting .327 in 60 games. As a perfect testament to his baseball legacy, this super eye pleasing M101-5 "Pop 1" marvel has retained many of its original factory issued attributes, with only a handful of examples grading higher. Unique for the grade, the sheer paucity level of this absolutely extraordinary offering cannot be overemphasized. Thorpe's popular black & white batting pose reveals the finest crystal-clear clarity and impeccable contrast, with the classic batting pose revealing a modest favoritism towards the left edge.
Similar to virtually all of the M101-5 issues, the surface portrays the highly-coveted vintage hue (a more off-white creamy color as opposed to the typical white M101-4 surface), and no glaring surface flaws are evident on either side. Accounting for the assessment is modest corner wear; however, it is clearly obvious that the corners have retained a majority of their original right-angled formations. It is no secret that the Jim Thorpe rookie card is literally exploding in value, with the most recent sale being a low-grade "1.5 Fair" example fetching a staggering $17,400 in the Spring of 2020. Further substantiating the lofty value of this museum worthy offering is the $36,000 sale of a "6 EX-MT" specimen nine years ago, with hobbyists well aware of the remarkable pricing surge of exalted rookie cards over the past decade. While Thorpe's somewhat limited baseball career certainly falls short of his Olympic and football stature, his M101-5 subject will forever serve as a sheer reminder of his unparalleled athleticism, standing tall as one of the most significant and elusive rookie cards on the planet!
MIN BID $5,000