Collected through a department store promotion more than 100 years ago and part of one of 2019’s top discoveries, a near set of 1916 Famous & Barr baseball cards has arrived on the auction block.
Heritage Auctions is offering the group of 197 cards in its Trading Card Auction that will run through December 5. Consigned to auction earlier this year by members of a St. Louis family who had inherited them, the Famous & Barr set quickly shot to the number one position on the PSA Set Registry after the cards were graded and authenticated. In August, the company sold the Babe Ruth rookie card from the collection for $540,000. It was graded PSA 6, and much of the near set now on the block is just as nice.
The Famous & Barr cards were almost an afterthought by the family, who at first didn’t understand their scarcity. They were originally collected by the consignor’s grandparents along with hundreds of other pre-War era cards. While many of them were in rough shape, the Famous & Barr run was virtually untouched.
Nearly 80 percent of the set graded Excellent or better. The Nap Lajoie and Connie Mack cards graded PSA 7, while the Buck Weaver rated 6.5. Several Hall of Famers matched the Ruth as grading EX/MT 6.
Every card in the set has a PSA population in the single digits with many now ranking as the highest graded examples. Dozens are ranked as Pop 1 with none higher.
Famous & Barr was a Midwest-based department store and the cards were issued as part of a promotion by the store’s boys department. Newspaper ads from the time indicate they could be acquired by visiting the store and purchasing a suit.
The collection has a pre-sale estimate of $40,000 or more.