Tucked away in an old Yahtzee game box for years, a fabulous new find of early 20th century baseball cards will come to auction this summer.
SCP Auctions will offer the collection, which includes over 432 cards, highlighted by the first 1914 E224 Texas Tommy Ty Cobb ever to be graded and just the second graded Texas Tommy card of Shoeless Joe Jackson. The Jackson has been rated a 2.5 by PSA while the Cobb rated a 1. Both cards are expected to sell for six-figure prices.
Produced in Oakland, CA and distributed with candy bars, Texas Tommy cards are extremely rare with only 75 examples from a 66-card checklist having been encapsulated by SGC or PSA prior to the find. A few ungraded examples are likely in advanced collections, but most collectors have never seen a Texas Tommy card in person.
Only one Texas Tommy Joe Jackson card has ever been authenticated by any grading company. But that card (a PSA VG-EX 4) has yet to surface, making the newly consigned example the first one ever offered at public auction. Walter Johnson, Frank Chance (Type 2) and four others, Larry Doyle, Stuffy McGinnis and two of Vean Gregg—all now PSA graded—round out the group that will come to auction.
SCP Auction Director Brendan Wells says the consignor, who is asking to remain anonymous for now, is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area and currently resides in Southern California, not far from SCP’s offices. The cards were originally owned by the man’s great-grandfather and passed down to his grandfather, a World War II veteran who passed away several years ago and gifted the collection to the next generation.
All the cards would end up being stored in the game box that remained packed away in a closet. The consignor knew the cards had value, but didn’t realize the scarcity of the Texas Tommy cards. Finally, he decided to contact the auction company which set up an appointment to see the entire collection in person.
“He said he almost forgot about them numerous times,” Wells told SC Daily on Wednesday. “When they were handed to him, they were in that Yahtzee box. The fact that they were in a fairly dry climate really helped preserve them.”
The consignor’s great-grandfather had grown up in the Bay Area and appears to have built the entire collection from scratch as an enthusiastic West Coast baseball fan. The only local stars at that time played in the Pacific Coast League, so the majority of the collection consists of cards from the popular Zeenut PCL series beginning in 1911.
Presumably too young to get T205’s and T206’s from tobacco packs, he had a sweet tooth and pulled his favorite San Francisco Seals and Oakland Oaks players from candy packages instead. Zee-Nut candy, made by California’s Collins-McCarthy Co., was a mixture of popcorn, peanuts and coconuts, similar to Cracker Jack. Notable Zeenut cards in the consignment included a pair of 1911 Buck Weaver cards, and just the second 1922 Tony Lazzeri true rookie card ever to be graded by PSA.
After indulging in a couple noteworthy Texas Tommy candy bars in 1914, the young man’s palette would eventually lead him to a Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth from the 1921-22 American Caramel set, among others.
For whatever reason, the collection came to a screeching halt by the end of the Roaring Twenties, perhaps brought on by the Great Depression or simply because the young man outgrew his hobby.
“The fact that this was a candy collection is pretty unique,” Wells said. “You don’t really see that as much as the tobacco card collections.”
Texas Tommy was a candy bar made by the Cardinet Candy Co. in Oakland The brand took its name from a local swing-style dance known to San Franciscans as the “Texas Tommy.”
There are two types of cards in the set, with 54 in the Type 1 category (bios on back) and 12 classified as Type 2 (blank backs). In the PSA population report, however, only 23 different players from Type 1 and seven from Type 2 are accounted for, with most having only one graded example. SGC’s pop report is even more sparse, showing 21 players from Type 1 and five from Type 2. In all, there are 39 graded by PSA and 36 graded by SGC for a grand total of 75 encapsulated. The new find brings the total to 83, with the Yahtzee! box find now making up 10 percent of the entire known supply.
With no previous sales to reference, exactly how high bidding will go is anyone’s guess. Another Jackson rarity–the 1910 T210 Old Mill graded 3.5 by PSA, sold for $600,000 last year but there are 16 graded examples of that card. One of Cobb’s rarest and most well-known issues, the T206 Cobb Tobacco back, has 24 graded copies. A PSA 3.5 from the famed Lucky 7 Find sold for $408,000 in 2018.
The collection also includes a group of 53 1909 S74 Silks including Chief Bender, Roger Bresnahan, Fred Merkle and Fred Snodgrass as well as numerous 1921 National Caramel and 1917 Collins-McCarthy cards.
The auction is scheduled to open August 5 at SCPAuctions.com.
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