“Happy Together” by the Turtles was topping the charts. Lyndon Johnson was in the oval office and the war in Viet Nam was dominating the headlines. Vince Lombardi’s Packers were kings of the NFL and the St. Louis Cardinals were beginning their World Series-winning campaign.
At the Topps factory in Duryea, PA, stacks of the new 1967 baseball cards were rolling through the packaging line. Most would head to drug stores, dime stores and grocery outlets where the packs would be ripped open by eager youngsters.
But not all of them that made it to their final destination were purchased. Some became unsold store inventory, tucked away and forgotten for decades.
Fifty-two years later, eight rack packs, leftover stock from a long-shuttered general store—have been discovered and will soon be on the auction block. In a stroke of amazingly good fortune, they are from Topps’ 2nd series and two have Mickey Mantle cards on top.
The number of unopened rack packs from the mid-1960s and earlier is extremely small and interest from bidders is expected to be strong. Just seeing such a discovery, though, is enough to make collectors’ hearts skip a beat.
Heritage Auctions received the group on consignment this month and will offer all eight packs in their April catalog auction. As was typical at the time, they consist of three individually wrapped cello packets of 12 cards each inside a cello overwrap for a total of 36 cards. A header advertising card at the top indicates the original price: 29 cents.
The two packs that have Mantle showing are expected to sell for over $10,000 each while the others will likely bring at least $1,500-$2,000 each.
The packs were consigned through an Austin, TX hobby shop which turned them over to auction on behalf of a customer. According to Heritage, the customer’s family once owned a general store and the packs were apparently unsold inventory that was recently discovered.
It’s possible there are more Mantle cards inside the packs, which all appear to contain cards from the second series (#110-196). One of the Mantle packs also includes fellow Hall of Famer Willie Stargell on the front.
If there are no duplicates in a pack (not always the case), it will contain nearly 42% of the cards from the entire series. Eddie Mathews and Steve Carlton are also in the second series as well as the run of World Series cards. A Mathews card appears on the bottom of one of the packs that has Mantle showing on top.
According to Peter Calderon of Heritage, at least a couple of the packs have tears to the outer wrapper but the interior portion isn’t affected. As was typical of the era, some of the cards are noticeably off-center.
All eight packs have been turned over to Baseball Card Exchange for final authentication and encapsulation in preparation for the auction.
Like this story? Sign up to get Sports Collectors Daily headlines by email each morning, Monday through Friday.