We all love it when some nice vintage baseball cards pop out of nowhere.
It’s the type of item more likely found in a major auction. Fan Craze was a turn of the 20th century baseball "parlor game" featuring portrait cards of Honus Wagner and other notables. Cards from the set aren’t that rare, but it’s rarely seen in complete set form.
One National League set, complete with box, rules and game board, walked into a smaller auction company in Pennsylvania and caused a buzz among those who discovered it was up for bid last weekend.
Miller & Siegrist Auctioneers of Lancaster, Pennsylvania received the set on consignment from an anonymous woman according to the local newspaper. Bidding began at $3,000 for a set that was described as generally in very good (VG) condition. Final selling price was $12,000.
Fan Craze was produced in Cincinnati and included sets of players for both leagues. The NL set includes eight Hall of Famers. While individual cards are not tremendously difficult to find, a set in this form is rare.
"You can totally explain the selling price by how rare [the set] is," Don Dorwart of Don’s Sports Cards in Strasburg, PA told Lanscaster Newspapers. "I’ve been doing this 25 years and in that time, I’ve only seen two complete sets," said Dorwart, who ironically owns one set himself.
The auction house advertised the cards in newspapers and on its website in the weeks leading up to the sale and interest came from beyond the area where the sale took place.
"We weren’t totally shocked at the price because we had quite a number of calls about it," said a Miller & Siegrist spokesman. "We didn’t anticipate it going that high, but we knew it would bring some money."
Hall of Famers from the set include Mordecai Brown, Roger Bresnahan, Frank Chance, Fred Clarke, Miller Huggins, Joe McGinnity, John McGraw and Honus Wagner.
According to Miller & Siegrist Auctioneers, the buyer is a connoisseur of rare items–but not specifically a card collector.
"I don’t know the guy who bought it," Dorwart said. "But if you have the money and you want it, you can throw out the catalog because you might not see another complete set for sale in your life."
For a look at who’s in the Fan Craze NL set, click here.