It’s one of those hidden treasures stories that seemed oh so common a few decades ago. A husband and wife driving across the Midwest, stop at an auction in Kansas. They buy a stack of board games no one else wants for $15, get home and open them up and come across a collection of really old baseball cards stuck in the bottom of one of the boxes. Not sports memorabilia aficionados, the man puts a rubber band around them, tosses them in a drawer and all but forgets about them.
What the couple found that day was a near complete set of 1915 Cracker Jack cards. Joe Jackson. Ty Cobb. Christy Mathewson. Not in mint condition (especially not after the rubber band incident) but still among the most valuable and surprising finds to enter the hobby this year.
The couple is friends with the auctioneer, who runs a small company in Washington. When you have something like this to sell, though, secrets don’t keep. Word has quickly spread and expectations are that there will be no shortage of bidders in the auction.
Strangely, though, only a few of the cards have been graded. All came back real and there seems to be little doubt that the collection is the real thing but there may be some serious guessing going on about the grades of these 98-year-old cardboard stars. The Tacoma News-Tribune caught up with the auctioneer and the owners for this story.