It’s the type of find collectors and dealers always hope is on the other end of the phone, but rarely is.
Over 270 century-old sports and non-sports cards, owned by members of one family since the early 1900s, are about to enter the hobby for the first time after they were purchased by an east coast hobby shop.
American Legends in Scarsdale, NY, landed the remarkable group this week. It includes eight rare Drum back variations from the T205 baseball card set and dozens of baseball, boxing and non-sports cards.
“Apparently these were passed down from a cousin to his father, who funny enough, didn’t like baseball at all,” owner Mark Rubin told Sports Collectors Daily.
The seller knew the cards had value but after a negative experience with another dealer’s offer, opted to continue looking for a buyer. He then brought them to Rubin’s shop in Westchester County, just outside New York City.
Rubin couldn’t believe his eyes. Not only were the cards real, most had been very well taken care of since they were pulled from tobacco packages before World War I.
There were 60 mostly EX-MT 1911 T201 Mecca Double Folders including Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson, a dozen nice looking 1912 T202 Hassan Triple Folders including Mathewson and four with Tris Speaker, a few EX-MT quality Toilstoi and Sweet Caporal T206s, over 100 mid-to-high grade T218 and T220 boxing cards dating from 1910 including two Jack Johnsons and John L.Sullivan, Red Sun boxing examples including James Jefferies and over 100 non-sports cards from the early 1900s.
“The biggest surprise of the deal was the Drum back T205s,” Rubin revealed. “They were towards the back of the album near the boxing cards. Fortunately, I happened to notice the backs and knowing how scarce they were, I bumped up my offer considerably.”
The T205 Drum backs included in the collection were Phelps, Blackburne, Chase, Lord, Moran, Payne and Hoblitzell.
Rubin and his wife Donna have owned their shop since 1992 and it’s not the first time they’ve latched on to old and valuable cards and memorabilia.
“Probably the best find was the one from four years ago,” Mark recalled. “A gentleman who was in the financial industry approached us. He and his father had owned a store in Florida in the early 90s. When they closed their store, they boxed everything up and put it in storage for almost twenty years. Over the course of several months, he brought in almost 400 Old Judge cards, several hundred T206, T205 & T207s plus Allen & Ginters, Goodwin Champions and Buchner Gold Coins. Each month I was buying cards that I had only seen in magazine pictures. On his last visit, he brought in five single-signed Babe Ruth balls, all of which passed authentication.”
Rubin says American Legends is submitting the cards from this week’s purchase for grading and authentication and they’ll be put up for sale in the company’s eBay store in three or four weeks.
“It’s funny, you’d think by now, that all of this untouched material would have made its way into the hobby, but it hasn’t. We’ve bought more pre-war cards in the past 18 months than we have in the past 20 years combined. I think it’s a really exciting time to be part of the hobby because you never know what’s next on the horizon.”