An avid smoker’s collection of early baseball cards including hundreds of T206s began finding new homes Wednesday night.
The collection of over 1,400 ungraded tobacco cards was revealed when Saco River Auction Company announced the consignment last year. The first of what is expected to be several separate sales of the cards, many now graded by SGC, took place at the company’s Maine offices last week and generated more than $200,000 in winning bids.
The cards were consigned by the descendants of a man who was a heavy smoker at the time and saved each card that emerged from packs of Sweet Caporal and other cigarette brands of the day. It’s considered one of the largest tobacco card collection finds in history.
“We never see collections of this magnitude at auction,” said Troy Thibodeau of Saco River.
The auction company opted to grade the star cards, higher grade commons and rare backs that would generate the most money while selling raw lots mostly in lots of ten. More than 200 lots were sold to bidders participating in person, online and by phone.
The top selling item in the auction, however, wasn’t a card but one of 45 glass negatives used to make the 19th century Old Judge cards. Featuring T.B. Doran, who played for teams located in Omaha, sold for $4,900.
The top selling card was a T206 Cobb portrait which brought $3,700. Cards of Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson and numerous other Hall of Famers were part of the collection.
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