Mini baseball card time capsules are on the block in a major sports memorabilia auction. To open or not to open, that is the question.
Baseball card collectors dream of discovering that decades old, still untouched stack of boxes stuck in a storage closet or attic that time forgot.
Dream no more.
Among the signature items in Memory Lane Inc’s appropriately named Hidden Treasures Auction that is now underway are a trio of mid-1950s high-grade unopened wax boxes. They include nickel pack boxes of Bowman from 1954 and 1955 as well as a 1955 Topps box. Each contains 24 packs, most of which have been remarkably well preserved.
Each box could have been purchased for $1.20 when they originally sat on store shelves. As of early Monday morning, the high bid on both the 1954 and 1955 Bowman boxes stood at $21,717 with the ’55 Topps box at $28,717.
The winner will own a virtual time capsule and be faced with the dilemma that confounds collectors of older packs and boxes: open them in hopes of pulling a few potential gem mint star cards that could result in a quick and tidy profit or keep them sealed as rare relics.
Sports card boxes are still the basis for the multi-million dollar industry and older boxes are the holy grail of memorabilia archaeologists.
The 1954 Bowman box represents the entire run of cards in the set, with Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays possibly hiding inside the packs. It’s even possible that the rare 1954 Bowman Ted Williams #66 could lurk beneath the surface.
The 1955 Bowman set was the famous “TV set” issue, with the brown borders, a large set that included most starting players, near-complete pitching staffs and even umpires. Again, with no series division, all 320 cards could be represented in the unopened packs including Mantle, Mays and Aaron.
The 1955 Topps issue marked the baseball card debut of Sandy Koufax. The box offered in the auction is indeed a first series box and could very likely contain a high-grade Koufax rookie card. In addition to Koufax, potential pulls include Al Kaline’s rookie card, plus cards of Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson, Ernie Banks and Warren Spahn. There are nine cards per pack in the box, which originated in the Paris, Tennessee buy made by Alan “Mr. Mint” Rosen a couple of decades ago.
While the 1950s full boxes will command incredible attention in this auction, there is more unopened material and even some rare early gum boxes—empty but coveted by collectors.
A 1960 Topps first series wax box of 24 packs is sure to attract significant attention. So will several late 1940s and early 1950s empty display boxes that are virtually impossible to find. There are non-sport boxes and even an empty 1986-87 Fleer wax box signed on the face by the player whose rookie card made the set so powerful: Michael Jordan.
The boxes are among hundreds of lots available to collectors in the Hidden Treasures auction. High-grade vintage sports cards, unique autographed items and other sports memorabilia are on the block. Bidding is underway now and will close December 12. Full color catalogs are available through Memory Lane Inc and collectors can also browse the listings online through the auction portal or on the virtual catalog. Phone bids are also accepted. To register, visit the website or call (877) 606-LANE.