The population of 1909 Philadelphia Caramel (E95) baseball cards has grown by 25 after a remarkable discovery in New Jersey.
A volunteer digging through mounds of material left inside the Parker Homestead in Little Silver recently found them, tucked safely inside an old cookie tin that had been placed in a box with hundreds of postcards and other items. The lot contains two Ty Cobb cards, Christy Mathewson, Eddie Plank and others featuring Sam Crawford, Chief Bender, Eddie Cicotte and other players in the set, which ironically also consists of 25 cards.
While the newly uncovered lot isn’t a complete set and includes several duplicates, most of the cards appear to be in generally good shape—a few perhaps even high-grade– and the value could stretch into five figures.
Also found were some non-sport tobacco cards from the same era featuring explorers, Indians and animals.
The Parker Homestead was willed to the community in 1995 for historic preservation. Many of the items inside were moved to another nearby historic home for storage. Liz Hanson, a volunteer with the non-profit group working to process items from the 17th century property, was sorting through items when she opened the tin and found the treasure trove of baseball history; one that narrowly avoided disaster.
“It had to be emptied so work could be done to the building and it appears that movers or whoever did this task went room to room dumping things into cardboard boxes,” she told Sports Collectors Daily. “Boxes that I have been sorting through usually contain a mixture of all kinds of things. Those boxes have been stored in at least three different places without anyone going through them. Broken pipes this winter led to my going through materials rapidly trying to salvage wet things. The tin kept the cards dry, but was found mixed in with correspondence, a dress, and other unrelated items, all of which was wet.”
The cards likely belonged to John Stanley Parker, who would have been a young boy 106 years ago. Stan Parker was the second youngest of the eighth generation of Parkers and Hanson says he represented the last generation as the three siblings who remained living in the Homestead never married. He was the last son to live on the property and run the farm and fortunately, wasn’t one to throw away every item from his youth.
“My assumption is that his mom gave him the old used tin to store them,” Hanson explained of the 25 trading cards. “This was not unusual in my own family; lots of things were stored in tins. They were free, and fortunately for us in this case, dry and safe.”
Hanson and others involved in the restoration understand the historic significance of the cards—and their value.
“They will be sent out soon for appraisal. We hope to keep them for a permanent display when the museum is physically ready and there is display place,” Hanson stated, adding that potential plans are still being discussed.
The E95 cards were distributed with candy. Honus Wagner was in the set, but his card was not found among the 25 stored in the tin. You can see similar cards being offered on eBay here.