While the National Sports Collectors Convention was happening in New Jersey, Jeff Weisenberg of National Card Investors was thousands of miles away from the action, wrapping up one of the greatest baseball card finds of his life.
Active in the hobby since the 1970s, Weisenberg was putting the finishing touches on the acquisition of a remarkable collection of nearly 1,000 T206 cards that had been in the same southern family since they came out of tobacco packs more than 110 years ago.
There were 16 Ty Cobb cards, including multiple copies of the much sought after green portrait background version. In all, the collection held 150 Hall of Famers and a copy of one of the set’s “Big Four,” a Sherry “Magie” error card.
Weisenberg and his partners at Boca Cards and National Artifacts were able to purchase the collection from an 83-year-old man. It was a deal that began with a phone call during December of 2020.
“They were his grandfather’s and had never been out of his hands,” Weisenberg told SC Daily. “He was incredibly attached to them. They were part of his history.”
After a few negotiating sessions and consultations with an estate planner, the collection entered the hobby through Weisenberg.
The seller, a retired college professor, believes his grandfather acquired them all around the same time. Based largely on the consistency of the backs, it’s likely the grandfather did a lot of smoking and stuck with primarily the same brand of cigarettes.
The collection also included about 20 T205s.
The cards were all in their original form, but were recently graded by SGC and will arrive at Heritage Auctions this week. They’ll be sold over the course of numerous auctions in the coming months.
Weisenberg came away impressed with the cards but also formed a friendship with the man who allowed him to purchase the collection.
“An unbelievable gentleman. A guy I will probably talk to every month for the rest of my life even though I probably won’t be buying any more cards from him because he’s just a great guy.”
Weisenberg, a computer programming teacher at Doherty High School in Worcester, MA, will return to the classroom next week, but it’s understandable if his mind will be on cards between periods, because that T206 heavy find was just the start of a remarkable run of pickups.
Two weeks after completing the first transaction, a friend who runs a regional auction company showed up at his office carrying a binder of cards that had been consigned by a family in Munson, MA.
Inside, Weisenberg saw over 250 more T206s, including an incredible 54 that featured the rare Carolina Brights cigarette ad on the back. Among them were a Tris Speaker that will be just the third example of its kind and a red portrait Cobb.
“He hands me the binder and the next thing I know I’m flipping the pages seeing Carolina Brights backs and I hit the Cobb and I said this is nuts!
“I believe at least three Carolina Brights will be the first known copies ever,” Weisenberg said. “Some others have only one or two examples.”
There were also 1887-1890 N172 Old Judge cards including Hall of Famers King Kelly and John Clarkson (two variations), a “spotted tie” Dave Orr and a “hands above waist” Fred Pfeffer. There are other rarities that will be also likely be revelations to the pre-War collecting community. All had pinholes from where they were apparently tacked to a wall but still present well.
Weisenberg says that family apparently was skeptical that old baseball cards still had any value.
“Believe it or not, they almost threw it out. There were siblings who finally said ‘maybe we ought to get these looked at’. I think there’s maybe a potential for a half million dollars in that collection.”
The cards in the binder went to PSA for grading and will be sold by Central Mass Auctions in November.
It’s been quite a summer for new discoveries. These most recent pre-War finds come on the heels of a massive collection of T206s and other tobacco cards consigned to Goldin Auctions during the National.
Meanwhile, Weisenberg will head back to class with a spring in his step, hoping his streak of good luck continues.
“I’ve got nine years to go until retirement and every year it’s getting harder and harder because this business has been so good.”