Across the country, as families stay at home during the current pandemic, some are attending to projects that have otherwise been put off due to time constraints associated with the demands of “normal” life. For one Midwestern family, it meant cataloging their late father’s extensive sports card collection, which had been quietly assembled over several decades.
The magnitude of his labors was quickly realized, and the family contacted Robert Edward Auctions, who will present the collection in installments, beginning with the upcoming summer auction, set to begin on July 24. Additional lots will appear in REA’s fall auction this November.
This fresh-to-the-hobby collection features thousands of baseball cards spanning the 1880s to the 1940s with a heavy emphasis on N172 Old Judge cards as well as 1910-era tobacco and caramel cards.
More than 200 Old Judge cards and cabinets, including nearly two dozen Hall of Famers, highlight the collection along with a near-complete 520-card set of T206 White Border, highlighted by the Demmitt and O’Hara rarities, and a near-complete E90-1 American Caramel set that includes Joe Jackson’s rookie card. Several other high-profile complete and near-complete sets, as well as various type cards were also part of the consignment.
In addition to the huge stash of baseball material, approximately 10,000 non-sports cards were also part of the collection, including complete and near-complete sets of many of the nineteenth-century’s most popular Allen & Ginter and Duke issues.
It wasn’t all baseball, though. The Chicago area man who passed away last summer at the age of 93 had collected across a number of different collecting disciplines including advertising and packaging, coins, stamps, toys, and paperweights. He had started collecting as a young boy growing up in the 1930s but family members said the collection grew as he traveled the country for work and pleasure as an adult.
Accumulated largely before the internet, the collection was built in part by means that will be familiar with adult collectors of a certain age. Not afraid to go off the beaten path, the collector crisscrossed the country to scour antique shops, flea markets, and other venues to source collectibles. While he keyed in on certain segments of interest, he also knew when something was too special to pass up.
Scarce type cards from sets such as S.F. Hess, Red Cross Tobacco, Mello Mint, Ramly Tobacco, Williams Caramel, Grignon Postcards, and others appear throughout the collection alongside the more well-known Old Judges, tobacco, and caramel cards.
“This is a very special collection that we are thrilled to have been chosen to bring to market on behalf of the family,” said REA President Brian Dwyer. “The quality and variety of nineteenth-century cards really makes this collection stand out, but every page of this collector’s binders yielded something noteworthy. It is so exciting to see a fresh collection with such significant highlights unearthed after decades in the shadows, and we are confident that collectors will appreciate the opportunity to add these cards to their collections.”
None of the cards in the collection had ever been professionally graded but according to Dwyer, that is now underway. Early results have been promising within the 19th century component of the collection. Over two dozen Old Judge Hall of Famers and commons have graded between Excellent and Near Mint, including notables like Hoss Radbourn, while a complete Allen & Ginter Champions set, discovered among the non-sport cards, turned in equally significant grades among the baseball players.
“Seeing cards of this age preserved so well really hammers home the care with which this collector approached and valued his collection,” said Dwyer.
Bidding in Robert Edward Auctions’ Summer Auction will open July 24. Registration to bid is now open online at www.RobertEdwardAuctions.com. The auction will close August 16.