Apparently abandoned for decades, they had shared space in a Trenton, New Jersey basement with the occasional unwelcome guest. Dust. Dirt. Bugs. Probably a mouse or two.
But these were survivors. Most of them, anyway. Rescued by a realtor who thought they had to be worth something, they provide more proof that yes, there are still undiscovered collections sitting in basements and attics across North America.
Our Vintage Buy of the Week is what Just Collect is calling the ‘Trash to Cash Collection’ and it makes for a great story, one that starts with a real estate agent not far from the company’s offices finding them in the basement of a client’s old house. He was helping the home owner go through their belongings and spied some old sports and non-sports cards.
From the names on the front, he knew they were old but thumbing through them revealed the awful truth that they had not all been well cared for. Well loved at one point, maybe, but time had taken its toll. A chunk of Roberto Clemente was missing. Bobby Thomson was missing his entire left quadrant. Bob Lillis had been virtually devoured by some hungry rodent.
And yet, there were big names in this little time capsule and not all were ruined. Aaron. Mantle. Mays. Robinson. Musial. More Clementes. It was worth checking out. In all, there were more than 2,000 of them.
The realtor took them to Just Collect’s offices where the bag was opened. Despite the many victims, it held a treasure trove of vintage star cards, many of which were in respectable and often downright nice shape. They were primarily from the 1950s and along with the dog-eared commons, there was an amazing treasure trove. Multiple 1958 Topps Mantle All-Stars. A 1957 Topps checklist. A scarce 1959 Fleer Ted Williams #68. A stack of 1957-58 Topps basketball with Hall of Famers and the big prize–a bounty of iconic football rookie cards. The bag held four 1957 Topps Johnny Unitas cards and three 1958 Topps Jim Brown rookie cards, among others.
There were even a few Exhibit cards featuring a sort of old west TV hero hall of fame. James “Matt Dillion” Arness, Roy Rogers and James “Maverick” Garner.
Some of the cards were covered in dirt, causing the trading card company’s staff to coin a new grade even lower than poor: filthy. Some were so bad the trash bag would be their permanent home going forward. It was among the more interesting finds the company had seen, that’s for sure.
According to Just Collect, the realtor was asked if he had a figure in mind but it was actually less than what the card company was prepared to offer. Committing to its word, the company paid its price. The realtor walked away with one less bag of stuff to worry about and a nice check and Just Collect had some new inventory—even if some of it might need to be dusted off.
Just Collect sponsors our Vintage Buy of the Week. They’re always in the market for vintage cards. Looking to add to your collection? They offer hundreds of fresh items via their weekly eBay auctions.