Jul 10, 2012, 2:29 PM EDT
A soot-covered cardboard box that had been buried under a wooden dollhouse in a Defiance, Ohio attic for more than a century contained a baseball card collection that could be worth more than $3 million, according to experts. Karl Kissner (pictured) was cleaning out his late grandfather’s house when his sister discovered the box, and set it aside. When Karl saw what was inside, he took the collection to a baseball card expert, who was blown away. Some are calling it the most spectacular baseball card find ever.
The cards, all from around the 1909 era, include names such as Ty Cobb, Cy Young and Honus Wagner, among others. More importantly, they were nearly all in pristine condition.
“It’s like finding the Mona Lisa in the attic” Kissner said.
The cards are from what is known as the E98 series. It is not clear who manufactured them or how many were produced, but the series consists of 30 players, half of them Hall of Famers.
“Every future find will ultimately be compared to this,” said Joe Orlando, president of Professional Sports Authenticator.
The best of the bunch – 37 cards – are expected to bring a total of $500,000 when they are sold at auction in August during the National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore. There are about 700 cards in all that could be worth up to $3 million, experts say. They include such legends as Christy Mathewson and Connie Mack.
Kissner and his family say the cards belonged to their grandfather, Carl Hench, who died in the 1940s. Hench ran a meat market in Defiance, and the family suspects he got them as a promotional item from a candy company that distributed them with caramels. They think he gave some away and kept others.
“We guess he stuck them in the attic and forgot about them,” Kissner said. “They remained there frozen in time.”
Professional Sports Authenticator has rated the cards at 8 and above (on a scale of 1 to 10), including a Honus Wagner rated a 10 — which is a first. The collection will be divided among 20 nieces and nephews, most of whom have decided to sell theirs.
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