They sat in a closet in an apartment above an old department store on the east coast for decades. Mixed in with other old postcards, no one gave the old baseball players a second thought.
Even the 1982 death of the man who likely acquired them more than 70 years before that didn’t result in a trip to a baseball card dealer.
Now, however, they’re about to enter the market and get their just due—a small, but important find of 1908 Rose Company postcards–including one of Cy Young that’s among the most elusive cards of the Hall of Fame pitcher who won 511 games. There was another featuring Christy Mathewson. All of them were in very good shape for their age.
The quartet of cards is now in the possession of The Collector Connection, the Pennsylvania-based auction house and will be sold later this year.
Just the third known example, the Young alone is likely worth $20,000–perhaps much more, depending on the result of a grading submission and what will likely be strong interest among collectors of pre-War era cards. When it comes to auction, it will be the first one sold in 17 years, according to Scott Russell of The Collector Connection.
The Mathewson should also bring a five figure price.
“The cards were found in the bedroom of Morton Gottlieb, my grandfather’s cousin, in the apartment above Gottlieb’s department store where Morton lived from the age 6 to his passing in 1979,” consignor Todd Schwebel of Massachusetts told SC Daily.
“We emptied out the apartment and store upon the death of Morton’s remaining sibling Stella in 1982 and my mom kept a bunch of stuff from the apartment and the store.”
Schwebel’s mother recently moved into a retirement community and gave him the stack of postcards she’d been holding. “I looked through them and saw the baseball players and got excited as I thought they might be valuable,” he recalled.
Schwebel believes Gottlieb acquired the cards in their year of issue since they were part of a group of cards that included 1908 postmarks and were addressed to him. The Rose Company cards were not mailed, however, and carry no writing on their backs.
The other cards in the find included cards of Al Bridwell, Rebel Oakes, Al Schweitzer and George Schlei. Schweitzer was a late addition to the set when it’s believed Rose added players to it in 1909 and doesn’t appear on most checklists.
Russell says the Young and Mathewson will be graded at the upcoming National Sports Collectors Convention and will be on display at Booth #1058.
“It was a lot of fun going emptying the store as it was like a thrift store but everything was new,” Schwebel recalled of the family’s efforts to clear the building nearly 40 years ago. “I found new wool bathing suits individually folded in white boxes with tissue paper with 10 cent price tags for instance.”
Gottlieb’s had been a fixture in Point Pleasant Beach for many years and after the store closed, it was coverted into a variety of uses including retail shops, a post office and dentist office. It was purchased by a local couple in 2019 who saved it from demolition.
The cards that Myron Gottlieb collected will now be preserved too.