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The Tale of Uncle Jimmy

Taking My Hacks



Joe Orlando - July 31, 2020

By the time this editorial is posted, so much will have already been said about the remarkable collection of one Uncle Jimmy.  The collection is so incredible, however, that I felt it was my duty to pay tribute to it.  I have been spoiled over the years working at PSA.  I get the opportunity to see so many outstanding collections every year, so it's rare that something can stop me in my tracks and make me feel like a kid again.

This was one of those times.

James Micioni - a.k.a. "Uncle Jimmy" to those who knew him - was a man of modest means, yet through hard work and persistence, he was able to assemble a collection that most multi-millionaires would envy.  This World War II veteran spent most of his life in Boonton, New Jersey, working as a high school custodian amongst other things.  He never owned a car.  By the time he passed away, at the age of 97, his collection was worth more than a fleet of them, but Uncle Jimmy chose to walk to work instead.

The collection is vast, but the unquestioned highlight is the mini hoard of signed vintage baseball cards, with dozens of autographed 1933 and 1934 Goudeys within it.  The stars are all there from Lou Gehrig to Jimmie Foxx to Rogers Hornsby and more, but the crown jewels were six 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth cards all bearing the Sultan of Swat's script.  Uncle Jimmy's collection was not a mere stash of uncirculated cards kept out of sight; building this part of it required a lot of work.

Uncle Jimmy took the time to document his process on a ledger in the most meticulous manner.  In many cases, he kept track of when the autograph requests, and cards, were sent out and when they were returned.  This was a labor of love approached with the kind of precision that would make Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux proud.  While the cards themselves were handled by definition, many of them retain immense eye appeal because Uncle Jimmy preserved them in the proper manner. 

Furthermore, while I have always been a huge fan of both classic Goudey sets in unsigned form, there is something about the Goudey design that lends itself so well to autographs.  One could argue that it is especially true in the case of the 1933 cards.  The colors... the contrast... the artwork... all of its attractive attributes make for a dream medium if you are an autograph enthusiast.  The signatures just "pop" off the background and provide the kind of eye appeal we all can appreciate in a great collectible.

In the hobby, there are those who say that collectors are temporary custodians of history.  Even though Uncle Jimmy lived to be almost 100, none of us can live forever, but the collectibles can carry on for future generations to enjoy if they are cared for correctly.  Collectors like me owe people like Uncle Jimmy a debt of gratitude for assembling this trove and guiding these treasures to safety so, one day, we have a chance to act as their custodians too.

Dozens of highlights from the group received the "Uncle Jimmy Collection" pedigree from PSA, which is so important for future owners.  Those special items can trade 1,000 times over, long into the future, but the provenance has been preserved in a way that will benefit every buyer and seller down the road.  Connecting these pieces to their origin matters in the long term.

When you think about it, the timing of this story was quite amazing.  We needed it.  The collectibles market was doing more than well at the time, but a feel-good story is what the doctor ordered.  During the COVID-19 crisis and at a time when tensions were high, Uncle Jimmy made his presence felt.

It never ceases to amaze me how often we are reminded that buried treasure still exists, but it does.  Uncle Jimmy could have cashed out a long time ago, but the collection meant more to him than the money.  In our world, he is not alone.  Collections like this are certainly not commonplace, but there are other "Uncle Jimmy" stories out there waiting to be told... and that's part of what makes this hobby so exciting.

 

Never get cheated,

Joe Orlando

Joe Orlando
President & CEO
Collectors Universe, Inc.


Article provided by Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) at www.PSAcard.com

 
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