Inside a very old building on a very expensive piece of real estate that houses some very valuable artwork sits the Magna Carta of baseball card collecting.
Jefferson Burdick did not have any plastic sheets or D-ring binders. He knew not of top holders or penny sleeves or qualifiers and grading. When he turned his life-long collection of cardboard over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art nearly 50 years ago, he was not long for this earth. He knew he had something special but it’s sad that not many–not even the museum itself–really appreciated it.
The rudimentary storage albums he placed his cards in are still there, still bearing the catalog designations we use today…”T” for tobacco, “E” for caramel and on it went. His system and his knowledge are still the basis upon which the hobby is built.
A small portion of Burdick’s collection is always available for the public to gaze upon but few ever get to see the bulk of it. As we told you about a year and a half ago, the Museum is digitizing the collection so you can see it at home.
ESPN’s Paul Lukas got a tour, recently, though. He’s normally all about uniforms (Uniwatch) but who can pass up a chance to see the Burdick Collection?
There’s no way you can see or read about everything Burdick left to the Museum but you can at least look at his Honus Wagner card and some of the other complete sets he painstakingly pieced together decades ago, by purchasing them and trading by mail with other early pioneers.
Here’s the story–and the video which starts with the Met’s current exhibit from Burdick’s collection featuring 19th century women on cards (really).