The next four years would prove to be among the most difficult the country had ever faced but when the 1941 Play Ball baseball cards arrived at candy and drug stores in the spring, the world must have seemed like a wonderful place. They were in color! Young stars like Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Pee Wee Reese stared back like they were next door. So what if they were actually images created by artists. The soft pastels jumped off the cardboard and if you were a kid, they were hard to resist.
War would come by the end of the year and that would be the last we would see of baseball cards and bubble gum for several years. For kids who were eight or nine years old, it was likely the last set they would ever collect.
One such collection, treasured by the New Jersey man who owned it, remained in his possession for decades but has now been literally, uncovered. Dozens of 73-year-old time capsules, thought to be lost or worse yet, stolen, are free again and about to enter the marketplace.
The collection had been stored in the original collector's attic but years ago, when he had some work done on the home, they disappeared.
"Years passed and he became ill," said one of the collector's two sons. "He died thinking the contractors stole the cards."
About four years ago, as final preparations were being made to sell the home, something amazing happened.
"Four years ago, my mom sold the house and my brother was moving everything out of the attic," said the consignor. "On the last day of the move, he saw something sticking out of the insulation. He checked it out and in an open box, he found the baseball cards. My dad died thinking the cards were stolen when, in fact, he still had them.”
The tale is sad and yet the hobby will benefit when the cards return from PSA, which has been selected to grade the entire collection of more than 70 cards. Calling it the "Lost and Found Collection", Just Collect will offer them at auction when they return from PSA, likely sometime next month. With a few exceptions, most of the cards range from EX to NM. Depending on the grades of the stars and condition-sensitive cards in the collection, they will likely sell for well into five figures.
Take a look at the collection in the video below. This is the first in a weekly series of 'Collections of the Week' we'll be featuring in conjunction with Just Collect.