Even some of the most advanced collectors don’t own a card from the 1888 S.F. Hess set, but they’ll have a chance to do just that next month.
Heritage Auctions will offer a card featuring Hall of Famer Mickey Welch of the New York Giants in its Spring Sports Card Catalog Auction, one of over 80 newly discovered 19th century cards set to hit the auction block for the first time. A find of Old Judge cards will also be presented in the catalog. All were in a collection consigned by a man in Connecticut who discovered them in an old house 40 years ago and has now decided to part with them.
The S.F. Hess set is one of the hobby’s most challenging issues with fewer than 40 cards total on the grading company population reports. There are three series in the set but the known checklist includes other celebrities and athletes beyond the diamond. The Welch card has been graded SGC 40 (VG), with a surface scratch and light wrinkling on the back. The photo on the front of the card remains clear, despite being 130-year-old.
Welch was one of the top pitchers of the 19th century, winning 307 games in just 13 seasons with a 2.62 ERA from 1880-1889. In 1885, he won 44 games with an ERA of just 1.66.
The same portrait on the S.F. Hess card can be found on Welch’s 1887 Four Base Hits issue and a Police Gazette cabinet.
The card is expected to sell for $30,000 or more when bidding comes to a close. The auction is slated to open on March 28.