It isn’t often you can say you own something more than 100 years old and it’s the only one of its kind but the miniscule number of existing 1914 Boston Garter window display cards certainly makes it possible for some.
Next month, the lone graded Ty Cobb from that set of 12 goes on the auction block where it’s expected to sell for $150,000 or more. Considering it’s scarcity, getting it for that could be considered quite a bargain.
Graded 50 (VG/EX) by SGC, the 8×4” specimen is one of the featured attractions in Heritage Auctions’ Summer Trading Card Catalog Auction.
In all, fewer than 20 cards from the set have been registered on the SGC or PSA population reports. The same Cobb card last sold in 2007 for $97,750.
“This is a breed with everything working against its enduring survival,” the auction catalog description states. “These cards were intended for window displays at retail stores selling the eponymous sock garters, never intended for wide public distribution, thus produced in small original quantities.”
The oversized dimensions and the throwaway nature of the product stunted efforts by modern era collectors and dealers to locate newly discovered examples over the years.
The back of the cards offered instructions to the retailers who received them from the George Frost Company, maker of Boston Garters (garters were an old school way of holding up your socks) and made it clear they weren’t available to the general public. Clothing store owners could write “on business stationery” to receive the cards they wanted to display. There’s also a checklist for the set and, somewhat unusual for the times, Cobb’s batting and fielding stats by year.
Bidding in the auction is expected to open July 27.