Rise of Graded Magazines: CGC 9.9 Sports Illustrated Auction

The world of collecting has taken an intriguing turn with the rise of graded magazines, particularly focusing on cherished editions of Sports Illustrated. Certified Collectibles Group (CGC), a key player in the grading business for over 15 years, has now evaluated more than 28,000 issues of the iconic sports magazine. This significant number reflects a notable surge in interest surrounding these encapsulated slices of sports history.

Previously, the pinnacle of magazine auctions was marked by a record-breaking $126,000 sale of a 9.8 graded newsstand version of the December 10, 1984, issue featuring a young Michael Jordan debuting with the Chicago Bulls. Titled “A Star is Born,” this particular issue is just one among the vast collection of over 2,000 Sports Illustrated issues graded at 9.8. However, the reigning record holder may soon face competition as a groundbreaking new milestone in magazine grading has emerged.

In a groundbreaking move this February, CGC bestowed a pristine 9.9 grade upon a December 2022 edition of Sports Illustrated featuring the illustrious soccer talent Kylian Mbappé, just ahead of the 2022 World Cup. This unparalleled grading was awarded to a magazine submitted by a dedicated collector hailing from the American Midwest, marking the very first instance of a Sports Illustrated issue achieving a perfect 9.9 score. The buzz surrounding this remarkable event has now turned into a thrilling auction hosted by Goldin Auctions, with this coveted piece already capturing the attention of eager bidders.

Recognizing the immense potential in grading magazines, Goldin has introduced a dedicated category for these unique items. The appeal of these graded magazines extends beyond sports aficionados to encompass photography enthusiasts as well, considering the many celebrated photographers who have contributed to the magazine’s iconic covers over the years.

The remarkable issue featuring Mbappé is one of two distinct cover variants produced, with the alternative highlighting the US soccer team. As the auction progresses towards its closure on June 8th, the bidding war for the Mbappé cover has already soared to an impressive $1,708, promising an exciting climax to the event.

In addition to the highly anticipated Sports Illustrated issue, the auction also features other remarkable items including a 1965 Topps Mickey Mantle card graded at 8.5, a rare 1956 Floyd Patterson card graded at 9.0, a 1989 SI for Kids edition showcasing Michael Jordan graded at 9.6, and a signed Muhammad Ali cover dating back to 1967.

While a substantial portion of graded magazines finds their way to buyers through platforms like eBay, which boasts over 6,000 listings, significant sales equally transpire at specialized auctions. Noteworthy instances include the March 2023 sale of a CGC 9.6 graded 1975 issue spotlighting soccer legend Pele, which fetched an impressive $25,000, and the over $11,000 garnered by a 1986 Mike Tyson cover graded at 9.0 in the preceding year. Of note, four of the top six highest-selling graded Sports Illustrated editions on eBay since the past year had Michael Jordan gracing the cover, emphasizing the enduring allure of this basketball icon.

The burgeoning interest in graded magazines signifies a shift in the traditional collecting landscape, reflecting the multifaceted tastes of collectors and the expanding horizons of sports memorabilia as a captivating investment avenue.


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