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  #1  
Old 02-20-2013, 03:35 PM
oldmanvintagecards oldmanvintagecards is offline
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Default The True Rookie Card of Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali???

This is a topic that everyone has a different view about. The first question you have to answer for yourself is what do you consider a CARD and what attributes make it a CARD? Here are the contenders and my view on them (you don't have to agree):

1. 1960 Hemmets Journal (Hand Cut)- If you are a person that says the first issue picturing a boxer is their rookie card, then this is the one for you. It was part of a 4 page sheet, that was meant to be put in a specific 2 ring binder, with Bio's on the back. The problem with this being considered a "card" is the fact that you can not evenly cut out all 4 cards, which is most noticeable by looking at the back of the cards. Seeing as you cant cut all 4 cards out of the 4 picture sheet (you have to sacrifice the other 3 cards to get the Clay "card" looking nice) then it clearly was never made to be cut.
CONCLUSION: It is an early memorabilia piece for Cassius Clay but was never meant to be cut in to cards. Were there any Hemmets Journal "cards" before card grading came out? Probably not. The Hemmets Journal Cassius Clay can be cut to look like a card but was never intended to be one. I do own 2 of these and it was after purchasing them that I came to these conclusions.

2. 1962 Rekord Journal (Hand Cut)- These are one of the first Cassius Clay items that you could cut in to card form. They come with small Bio's on the back and a line for Autographs. The Rekord Journal had two Picture Bio's on the bottom right corner of every weekly magazine. The pictures came on the front of the magazine made of normal paper.
CONCLUSION: Considering a cut out from a magazine as a card can lead to a very slippery slope. If you consider these player bio's as cards then you open up the definition of cards to include almost any picture with bios that are regular parts of the magazine or newspaper. If you call Rekord Magazine pictures "cards" then you have to consider the "Faces in the Crowd" Picture Bios from Sports Illustrated to be cards as well, because they are basically the same thing (just not on the cover). If we allow "Faces in the Crowd" cards to be considered rookies than we just changed the whole rookie game forever. So my conclusion is like the Hemmets Journal: they are not cards, but early memorabilia.

3. 1964 Simon Chocolates- This card is made of card stock, is factory cut and was distributed randomly in Simon Chocolates (Spain) from a numbered multi-sport set. It also has a great portrait of Clay yelling boastfully.
CONCLUSION: No matter who you are you can't deny that this is definately a card. This is the first "card" of Clay that is definately that, a card. For this reason I consider this his true rookie. You could also make an argument for his 1964 MacRobertson Quiz card but just like comapring any normally issued card from the same year as a card issued in a board game (or some other type of game) the normally issued card (packs or distributed as a bonus with packs of a product such as T206's with tobacco) is considered the rookie. The Simon Chocolates is what I consider to be Cassius Clay's true rookie because it his first memorabilia issued that I consider to be an actual card.

4. 1965 Lampo or 1966 Panini- I lumped these together for people that want there rookies to come from a well known card manufacturer. So if you consider the Simon Chocolates an XRC then one of these are the rookies for you, take your pick.
CONCLUSION: If you do not like the rare or oddball (although the Lampo's are pretty rare) and will not consider a card manufactured by a Chocolate company a real rookie, then this is the Clay Rookie for you.

5. 1971 Barratt Co.- HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA if you still think this is Clay's rookie than I have a 1991 All World Joe Louis rookie card to sell you: it is only $300 and graded PSA 10!!!!!


Although PSA grades the Hemmets Journal and the Rekord Journal Hand Cut cards that does not actually make them cards in my book. The first undisputed card of Cassius Clay is the Simon Chocolates, so that is the one that I am going to consider his rookie.

Let the ARGUING BEGIN!!!!!!!!!
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  #2  
Old 02-20-2013, 07:25 PM
Writehooks Writehooks is offline
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Intriguing question ... and you make good arguments. For my money, the true Clay/Ali rookie is the b&w photo card (3.25" x 8") that was mailed out to fans who wrote to him when he turned pro with the Louisville Sponsorship Group after the 1960 Rome Olympics. Hank Kaplan was brought on board as Clay's publicist, and when young Cassius moved to Miami in the fall of 1960, Kaplan was put in charge of answering fan mail.

I was fortunate to have corresponded with Kaplan periodically until his death a few years ago. As he explained in the letter that came with the card he sent to me in 1996: "Regarding the photo of young Cassius Clay, I posed him for the photo. It was a few days after he arrived in Miami for the first time. It was also on my typewriter that I typed in his name. We took 3 shots of him and printed up 100 for his fans. This is one of the originals. It was probably in December of 1960. It was before his first fight here, at any rate."

Kaplan remained part of Ali's team for the next two decades, and later served as treasurer and boxing consultant for Ali's "Champions for Life, Inc."
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  #3  
Old 02-20-2013, 08:55 PM
Coninefan Coninefan is offline
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What about 1964 Mac Robertson's or 1965 Bancroft Tiddlers?
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Old 02-21-2013, 12:19 AM
oldmanvintagecards oldmanvintagecards is offline
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That picture is awesome and is the reason for my thread. Everyone sees cards as something different, so it makes it ridiculously difficult to name one as the definitive rookie. I would love to own that picture/handout, but I personally wouldn't consider it a card mainly because of the size and the way it was made.

I did mention the MacRobertson in with the Simon and why I would rather have the Simon. With the Tiddlers it was made a full year after the Simon and MacRobertson so I don't know how it would be considered a rookie? The only reason I mention the Lampo or Panini as sets after 1964 is because they are/were major card companies and a lot of people consider a rookie to be the first card made by major card company. You can't really consider the Tiddlers to be a major card company, so I dont see how it could be discussed as a rookie.
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  #5  
Old 02-21-2013, 10:01 AM
miklia miklia is offline
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I'm in the Hemmets camp. it's numbered, part of a set, and 4 years earlier than anything else.

as a related question - does anyone know what the first card of him as 'Muhammad Ali' is? the PSA pop report has a pop 1 1969 Shindana Toys Afro-American History Mystery, but i'd never heard of or seen that before.

edit to note that you indeed can cut out all four cards on the hemmets panels - but they all have small borders then.

Last edited by miklia; 02-21-2013 at 10:03 AM.
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Old 02-21-2013, 12:22 PM
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I agree with the Hemmets card as the first one I know of, and certainly the 1962 Rekord, which is clearly meant to be cut out as a strip-type card, as the next.

Murr raises a very good point, one that I am going to address at length in an upcoming entry on my web site 'soapbox': owing to the nature of boxing promotions, the first 'card' you are likely to find for many boxers is a self-issued publicity card. They were standard items from the 1920s through the 1950s-1960s and can often be dated based on the fighters' attributes and date stamps from newspaper archives where many of them were saved. Here is my Clay with the letter enclosing it, from before the first Liston fight:



Other examples:

Pre-championship Rocky Graziano:



1953 Floyd Patterson:



Early 'Two-Ton' Tony Galento; looks like he was half a ton short here:



The Cocoa Kid; try finding another card of this HOFer:



A very young Max Schmeling:



Some call these photos, some treat them as cards. Where the line is between items like these and 'photos' like the ACC-listed H815 Adam Hats 'cards'?



There is also Clay's Exhibit card, which is an early 1960s issue:



I could pin down the exact issue date for certain if I had an Exhibit catalog collection from the era, but I don't. Some collectors toss out all Exhibit cards and all postcards too. Fine by me--collect what you want--but don't tell me that Gene Tunney's RC is anything issued after his 1922, nationally-distributed, American-made Exhibit card:



My point being that if you toss out this item and that item and that item and those items you can skew your analysis pretty much to any outcome you wish to justify anything you want to treat as the card as being THE card. I mean, even starting from the OP list of cards, technically, none of them are classic RCs. Beckett--which started the rookie card stuff in the 1980s in its books and mags--listed any foreign-issued card not available as issued in the USA as an XRC, so every one of the cards listed in the OP are not really 'rookie cards' under the classic definition, they are XRCs. If you want to admit foreign cards into the rookie card mix, you are already discarding the classic rookie card definition and substituting one that is not generally accepted. Again, I have no issue with that per se, but stating this card or that card is the definitive first card for a fighter requires rigorous intellectual honesty in the analysis, first to define what a card is then to define what it means to be a rookie card, and lastly to divorce the decision from parochial considerations, like glossing what you own and would like to tout as the key card. Unfortunately, those subjects are not at all clear, especially where issues from everywhere on the planet are considered. I find the 'rookie' designation increasingly problematic the wider the net is cast. I mean, can a local card issued in Spain or Sweden that literally no one collected be considered a 'better' card than one issued in the USA or Great Britain?

See what I'm getting at?
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Last edited by Exhibitman; 02-21-2013 at 05:59 PM.
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  #7  
Old 02-24-2013, 10:26 PM
oldmanvintagecards oldmanvintagecards is offline
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The thing that makes this argument so good is the fact that so many people consider different things to be cards. I don't consider magazine cutouts (Rekord cards in this case) to be cards because it would open up the case for any magazine picture bio's that appear in a magazine on a regular basis to be considered cards ("Faces in the Crowd" from Sports Illustrated would be an example of pictures that would have to be considered cards of Rekord pictures are considered cards). I also don't consider pictures that were never meant to be cut out (Hemmets Journal) and were meant to be put in to a binder as a 4 picture sheet to be cards. I am not just leaving these "cards" out to come to my own conclusion. I am leaving them out because I do not just call something a card because an "expert" says it is. To be a rookie in my book it has to be the first CARD issued, not the first American card (Again this is only my opinion but to say that rookies can only produced in one country is pretty ridiculous. This definition can work, for the most part, with the big 4 American sports but can not work for an international sport or there would be no cricket or rugby rookie cards). If I were to consider the Hemmets Journal a card I would have to think that it was actually MEANT TO BE a card, which I do not ever since I realized that you can not cut any of the "cards" out without damaging the other "cards" on the sheet. The reason I believe the Simon Chocolates is THE CLAY ROOKIE is because I think it is the first card issued of Cassius Clay, not the first picture of Cassius Clay that could be cut out to reasonably look like a card. The definition of a rookie card for boxing is wide open but in no other sport would a Rekord Journal or Hemmets Journal paper picture cut out be considered a card. I think with both of these they really reached in deeming them "cards" (again, my opinion).

Again, this is what makes the argument fun. Some people consider a photo issued by a manager to be his first card. Other people consider the first picture that can be cut out to resemble a card to be his first card. While others consider a factory cut, normally issued card made out of card stock to be his first card. To each their own and everyone should collect what they enjoy.
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Old 03-17-2013, 12:08 PM
eagles33 eagles33 is offline
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Great thread. I think the fact that there isn't a single iconic rookie card for Ali really holds back the value of his cards. I wish smr would do an article on Ali and pele rookie options just to draw some attention to them. I agree with your opinion on the 64 Simon. That is is his true rookie imo too. My personal preference is the 65 lampo though. Especially the version with the text on the back. I think this card has the potential to be THE Ali card even though it isn't his first. Similar to 52 topps mantle over the 51 bowman. If the Simons card was a little smaller and fit in a standard size slab then I might have chosen it.
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Old 03-17-2013, 06:02 PM
steve B steve B is offline
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Certainly a lot to think about.
One of the great things about learning more is being able to essentially abandon the defenitions of Beckett and other catalogs or price guides and decide how to define things for yourself.

That may not work for dealing, but for collecting it's good.

I wasn't familiar with the early issues, so I went looking for pictures.
Here's how I look at it.

The Hemmetts I'd think of as cards, but only the complete pages. They came with a product- a magazine and were in a series. That they were made to be put in a binder isn't a big deal to me. I'm thinking of them like the SI for kids cards or the vintage style cards that came in baseball cards magazine. Although they're closer to the sporting news or LaPresse inserts.

The Rekord are a bit different, they're certainly unusual. I don't think they campare to the SI faces in the crowd because they have a defined sizeand a border. Faces is really variable and never a border plus the bio information is to the side. But they're part of the cover, so a bit borderline. I couldn't really tell, but if the magazine mentions something along the lines of "cut out and save the pictures of athletes on the cover two different each issue" Then I'd lean very far towards calling them cards as well. The card inserts in the first couple issues of SI are similar. (SI again.....hmm) The various cards printed in newspapers over the years are more similar. Series, intended to be cut out and saved, just made on newsprint. There are a number of more mainstream cards printed on very light stock, and the 1960's Topps paper proofs would be considered cards. If they weren't mentioned as something to be cut out and saved then maybe a bit less.

I'd count stuff issued as part of a game myself, but I can see where some people might not.

I'm also surprised there isn't an Italian olympic set from 1960. Hosting the games was a huge deal for them and there being no cards seems odd.

International cards I think should be counted, especially in a sport like Boxing. For sports that are less international counting cards from the main country makes some sense. But a lot of sports are more international than I'd have thought. Maybe the only one it makes sense to count only US cards for would be American Football.

Steve B
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Old 03-17-2013, 06:26 PM
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This was part of the cover of the 1961 Golden Press baseball booklet



The Rekord cards might have been fugly but they were definitely meant to be cut out and collected. If not, why define borders and create backs that matched?

This Wheaties Al Rosen is part of a series of ballplayers on the backs of comic books and it has instructions to cut out; is it a card?

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