Digging Around In Attic Unearths $3M In Rare 1910 Baseball Cards

It’s one thing when you know for certain that your carefully curated collection could be worth a lot of money, but what we all really dream about is that elusive surprise find hiding right under our noses. An Ohio man was rummaging around in a box from his grandfather’s attic when he dug up just such a rare score — a collection of baseball cards from 1910 that could be worth millions.

According to the Associated Press, Karl picked up hundreds of baseball cards bundled with twine, and noticed something was off. They were much smaller than the cards he was used to seeing, but he knew the names on them — heck, we all do: Hall of Famers Ty Cobb, Cy Young and Honus Wagner.

He put the box aside and kept sorting through the attic. Cut to two weeks later when he found out that what he had could be one of the most wonderfully awesome and exciting and super cool finds in the entire history of sports card collecting, to put it lightly.

Apparently the cards are part of an extremely rare series issued around 1910, with only a few known to exist in not so great condition, until now. But Karl’s find has cards in almost perfect condition, sitting around without human hands to sully them for a century.

“It’s like finding the Mona Lisa in the attic,” Karl said. He and his family say their grandfather died in the 1940s, after running a meat market in the town of Defiance. They guess that he received the cards as a promotional item from a candy company that distributed caramels with them. He likely gave some away and kept others.

“We guess he stuck them in the attic and forgot about them,” Karl said. “They remained there frozen in time.”

Sports card experts have already authenticated the collection and says the find is monumental in importance, with one saying “Every future find will ultimately be compared to this.”

The 37 best cards are expected to bring about $500,000 at auction in August during the National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore. The other 700 cards could total up to around $3 million.

Check out the source link below for more details on the journey of these super impressive cards, and start making plans for attic and basement crusades for your own score.

Baseball cards in Ohio attic might fetch millions [Associated Press]

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  1. nugatory says:

    Just whats needed to encourage those that bid on things like abandoned storage lockers or luggage. /s

    • wombats lives in [redacted] says:

      Peter: You remember that time I was supposed to get that boat? A BOAT’S A BOAT, but the mystery box could be anything. IT COULD EVEN BE A BOAT. You know how much we wanted one of those.
      Lois: Peter, that happened ten minutes ago.

  2. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    My basement still has 2 boxes full of various books in japanese from the previous owner. I keep meaning to try to find someone to appraise them, though they are probably just random books.

    The problem is finding someone who knows about Japanese literature. It could be rare, it could be a pile of Japanese equivalents of Reader’s Digest.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      I found 4 japanese silk paintings of scenery in my grandparent’s basement. My grandfather told me one of his friends from WWII gave them to him, and since I thought they were pretty I should take them. I’ve always wanted to have them appraised but sort of doubt they’re worth anything. Look mighty fine framed and hanging on my walls.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        You never know – it’s amazing what art is eventually considered expensive because some no-name artist from WWII eventually gained fame, even posthumously.

  3. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    This. I blame the OP.

  4. Cicadymn says:

    I wish I had 3 million dollars.

  5. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    The only things I ever found in my attic were a liesure suit from the 1970s, a stack of Hotsy Totsy magazines from the 1930s, and mouse turds.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      Bingo! The mags are probably highly collectible by now, you can donate the suit to Goodwill and get your charity fix, and the mouse turds are good for your garden.

  6. StatusfriedCrustomer says:

    I was just looking at Honus Wagner’s statistics. Did you realize that at one time, triples were more common than home runs? Today I almost feel that a triple should be considered worth a run just for its rarity.

    • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

      Home runs were very rare before the 1920s. The ball itself may have been changed to make it fly further (though Major League Baseball denies this). It’s definitely true that the ball was replaced much more often. In the old days, a team might use one ball all game long (you weren’t allowed to keep foul balls). It got a bit soft (harder to hit) as the game went on. In modern games, dozens of balls will be used during a game – so the ball is always fresh and clean. Easier to see, and flies further when hit.

      • DaveInBillsburg says:

        The ball was changed over time. This is the reason for the Live Ball/Dead Ball era when talking baseball stats. Back in the 1910-1920s baseball were used much more during games than they are now (which is something like just over 3 pitches). They got beat up more and the cover was scuffed/scratched more so they flew less.

        There was differences in constructions, tightness of wound of the string around the center, tighter stitching on the leather cover that made the ball fly less back then.

  7. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    Having been in the comic book biz for an eternity, while you do occasionally hear about stories like these, they’re getting fewer and farther between. Everybody “knows” that comics, cards, etc. are worth money now…so they’re not throwing them away. And pretty much everybody’s grandpa’s stash has been found by now.

    …50 years from now, though, when you’re dead and your grandkids find your cards/comics, they’ll be worthless. Because there were a million of each one printed, and 90% of them were saved by collectors like you. Which is why modern-age comics/cards/whatever are pretty much never going to be worth much of anything.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      Erm, having said that, bully for this guy. Hey guy, let me know if you want to trade some of those dinky little cards for some much-bigger comic books ;)

    • axhandler1 says:

      This reminds me of a Calvin & Hobbes strip in which the eminently reasonable Hobbes asks Calvin how he can ever expect his comic books to become valuable if every kid in America is also carefully saving five copies, sealed in airtight plastic bags. These books won’t be consumed, they won’t be rare, and they therefore won’t gain in value. Calvin simply suggests, “We’re all counting on the other guy’s mom to throw them away.”

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        Yup. The classic example now is all the kids who, 20 years ago, were buying 2-3 copies of every Image comic made, convinced they were going to make them rich 20 years later. As a result, there are a million copies of every Image comic ever made in the 90s in pristine condition available on the market.

        …so when these people now come up to me at a convention wanting to sell their 90s Image collections, they scamper away in a tizzy when I inform them that *all* of those comics are in the 50-cent boxes these days, frequently even Spawn #1, and their collection has a wholesale value of maybe 10 cents per book.

        • RandomLetters says:

          Yeah the over hype of the comic market in the 90s killed it for collecting unless you happened to buy in on something from a completely unknown publisher who managed to have some hits. Valient comes to mind as an example. And even then once they were big names, they would do all the stupid stuff everyone else was doing.

          • YouDidWhatNow? says:

            Nah. Valiant stuff isn’t worth anything either. Valiant was almost as bad as Image, because of all the hype over Jim Shooter going off and doing his own thing. You can find pretty much all the Valiant books in 50-cent boxes too.

            • RandomLetters says:

              I haven’t followed the market in a pretty long time but last time I checked I did have a few Valiants in the $30 range. Harbinger #1 with the coupon still attached was one of them. Be a shame if that’s been relegated to the trash basically. :(

              • YouDidWhatNow? says:

                Don’t confuse book value with “Actual” value.

                Spawn #1 is probably still listed in Overstreet at like $20.

                …go to a comic convention, and you’ll find it in the cheap boxes on the floor. Along with Harbinger #1 in all likelihood.

                • BuriedCaesar says:

                  Some of them might be worth something someday. But our children’s grandchildren will be long gone before then.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      I always laugh at people who say they will save their toys for their kids. Ok here is the thing, your grandkids do not want your old toys, they want the latest and greatest. We don’t live in a culture where hand me down’s are popular anymore, yes they were 30 years ago, but now if kids don’t have the latest iProduct, they are not cool. We live in a truly disposable society. There are a couple things that are foolproof like lego’s and star wars figures, but even then you will find they must have the latest. You might be able to satisfy them until about age 5 or 6 with your old toys, but once they hit a certain age they start wanting what everyone else has. You are better off selling your old toys you were saving, reclaim some space, and put that money in your kids college fund, or use it to buy him or her the toys they really want.

      Your kids probably also won’t be interested in your collection of comics that is worth nothing, they will just consider it junk and something they have to deal with in their lives that takes up more time. Been to enough estate sales to know, the children of the people who die simply do not care what happens to the stuff their parents once treasured or saved diligently for them and they just consider it another burden. The children have their own busy lives, and most likely have their own children neither of whom wants to deal with piles of what they consider junk.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      I sold some comics and old Fangorias for about $45. It wasn’t too bad.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        Yeah…and those weren’t the 90s glut comics. Go to a comic convention and ask the dealers what they think Spawn #1 is worth – or X-Men #1, or Spider-Man #1, or any of the Deathmates, etc.

    • Cerne says:

      I’m not disagreeing with your point at all, but don’t the best selling comics move something like 40,000 units an issue? That’s hardly millions of copies.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        In a normal month, probably. But there were literally millions of copies of individual comic issues being printed in the 90s, and bought up by comic speculators who thought they were ingeniously making themselves rich.

        All the ingeniously did was ruin the market for everyone.

    • DaveInBillsburg says:

      This. My wife’s great-grandmother told us stories where they had old newspapers, baseball cards, dolls, etc back when she was young that got thrown out because they didn’t think they were worth anything. There were more than a few occasions when she was alive where she would watch antique roadshow and comment “I had one of those” for an item that was valued at 10K or more that was handed down from her grandmother. They didn’t think it was of value so they trashed it. She didn’t regret it at all, but I sure did since my wife was her favorite and would have probably gotten a few of the items…cha-ching!

  8. PragmaticGuy says:

    The bummer is, that money gets split between 20 people and that will take 3 years to get. On top of that there’s auction fees, estate taxes, etc. They’ll be lucky to each walk away with about $50,000.

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      That’s what I came here to say. I wonder how much of the estimated $3 Million will get sucked up in taxes, fees, etc.

    • Bsamm09 says:

      Estate taxes could be complicated. It depends on what their value was when the grandfather dies. In the 40’s the top estate tax rate 77% and the exemption varied from $40,000 to $60,000.

      Then there is an issue as to if the son is alive or when he died. That could change the tax owed. There are many variables to this. Statute of limitations is one and there is no statute of limitations if no estate tax return is filed.

      I would bet the IRS would allow a basis of $0 and $3m as the sales price with gain reduced by selling costs. Since these are collectibles they are in the 28% bracket. It would be overly burdensome to have to determine estate tax consequences this many years prior.

      • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

        I’d guess they were worth substantially less when the grandfather died in the 1940s. In 1933, the T-206 Honus Wagner card (which is NOT one of the cards the guy found) was the most expensive baseball card in existence, with a value of $50. Now, the better copies of this card routinely sell for more than $1 million. I’d guess that the cards may have been worth $10K when the grandfather died – but that’s very much a ballpark guess. Certainly they would have been worth a fraction of what they are now.

  9. sp4rxx says:

    Well what they are worth and what people will pay are 2 different things. If it were me, I would say, “show me the money”!

  10. El_Fez says:

    It wasn’t 3 million bucks worth of bubble gum cards, but I had a friend find the first 12 issues of Playboy – mint condition – in an attic of a house he was working on and the owners just gave them to him. He was able to ebay the whole run for about 6 or 8 grand.

  11. Danno23 says:

    I’m never that lucky. I bought a house that was built in 1877 and we were only the 5th family to live there. I was hoping to find valuable stuff like some old Civil War gold or something, or at least a cache of comic books or baseball cards. No such luck.

  12. HogwartsProfessor says:

    WHY WHY WHY does this not happen to me!? The best I’ve been able to get was a 1953 reprint of Little House on the Prairie that was autographed by Laura Ingalls Wilder, which I sold for $3600. That will never happen again. :(

    At least I was able to pay off some of the medical bills I had. But unemployment is sucking my savings account dry.

    • dwtomek says:

      You just pointed out that it did in fact happen to you, although not on the same scale. Trust me, I would love to stumble on to $3,600.

    • Sparkstalker says:

      Well, I’d take that – so far, cleaning out my wife’s grandmother’s house, I’ve only found three bottles of Manischewitz wine…

  13. jcm says:

    My grandparents collect fine art and some of it was recently auctioned off so they could move in to a smaller place that is set up for assisted living. Before they moved out of their condo, the family found a Renoir sketch in a storage closet. It hasn’t been appraised yet, but hopefully it will be soon. Bad thing is, they want to hang it in their sun room where it would get faded. Yes, they know what the sun would do to it.

  14. GitEmSteveDaveHatesChange says:

    Well, they’re rare, and that means that there aren’t many people out there looking to buy. This will sit on my shelf for I don’t know how long, taking up valuable space. I could put them up for auction, but then I’d have to pay someone I’m already paying to put the auction up.

    I’ll offer you $5,000.

    • DaveInBillsburg says:

      Scene straight out of any of the Pawn Stars shows. Love how they low ball people on those shows.

      Appraiser: This 18th Century rifle is worth $100K
      Pawn Star dude: So what do you want for it?
      Owner: Well you heard the appraiser, $100K
      Pawn Star dude: Well, they’re rare, and that means that there aren’t many people out there looking to buy. This will sit on my shelf for I don’t know how long, taking up valuable space. I’ll offer you $5K
      Owner: O_o

  15. Kestris says:

    Makes me wish I still had my baseball card collection from when I was a kid. Alas, I left them with a friend when I went to USMC boot camp and lost contact with her shortly thereafter.}:/

    It’s been 20+ years, I seriously doubt, even if I could track her down, she still has them.

    Yes, I’m female and I collected baseball cards. Had the full team set of the 1980s Detroit Tigers in mint condition too.