From a humble paper bag to international fame, they became one of the most memorable collecting stories of the new century. Now, all seven Ty Cobb baseball cards from The Lucky 7 Find – one of the greatest sports card discoveries of all-time – have been sold, realizing nearly $3 million.
The T206 White Border Ty Cobb red background portrait with the “Ty Cobb Tobacco” back, with only 22 known examples, is by far the rarest of the set’s various tobacco brand backs.
In February 2016, Rick Snyder, a South Carolina-based dealer in rare, high-grade sports cards, had been contacted by a family going through their great-grandparents’ old, dilapidated house in a rural southern town. The cards were found on the floor, face down at the bottom of a torn paper bag. All seven cards carried the rare ad on the back, which proclaimed Cobb to be the “King of the Smoking Tobacco World.” They are believed to have been associated with Cobb’s short-lived endorsement of his own brand of smoking tobacco more than 100 years ago.
Hoping they had found something valuable but needing some guidance in the process, the company contacted Snyder, the owner of MINT State, who agreed to sell them on consignment.
“We were hired by the family to have the cards graded by Professional Sports Authenticator and to sell them using our direct sales method, maximizing the prices realized for each of the seven cards in the find,” explained Snyder.
The cards were quickly shipped to PSA and returned with grades ranging from 1.5 to 4.5. Some were purchased by private buyers almost immediately. The remainder eventually found homes and two have since been sold at auction. While individual prices for all of the cards haven’t been disclosed, Snyder says they realized a combined total of “approximately $3 million.” At least one-third of that is believed to have been spent on the highest graded example.
Only about 15 of the rare 1909-1911 Cobb variation were known to exist prior to the discovery.
The identity of the family members who will benefit from the proceeds of the find hasn’t been revealed but they shared their happiness recently for what was the equivalent of a winning lottery ticket for a typical American family. “I cannot express enough how much my family and I appreciate you and your help,” one of the family members wrote to Snyder. “You are a hero to my family…and I am thankful [we were] led to that old paper bag and to an honest person to help us. Thank you!”