You've heard about garage sale Picassos. Now it's time to introduce attic Ty Cobbs.
An Ohio family rummaging through the attic of a long-deceased grandfather stumbled across a century-old collection of baseball cards.
The 700 cards -- bundled in twine, but in surprisingly mint condition -- belonged to Carl Hench, a meat market owner who lived in Defiance, Ohio, until he died in the 1940s. His home was passed on to two of his daughters. When the last of the two daughters died last year, she left everything in the home to her 20 nephews and nieces.
They didn't discover the baseball cards in the attic until months later.
The Mona Lisa in the Attic
The cards are from a rare series issued around 1910. They also happen to be worth a lot of money.
Experts believe that the 700 cards could be worth as much as $3 million. The first realization of the fortunate find will come next month when 37 of the most valuable cards -- including Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Cy Young, and Connie Mack -- will be auctioned off at a sports memorabilia convention in Baltimore in August.
Wagner is the name that many associate with rare baseball cards. He objected to his likeness being packaged in tobacco products in the early 1900s, so the American Tobacco Company pulled his card from the series. There were just dozens of Wagner cards in circulation, and Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick paid a whopping $2.8 million for the most famous of Wagner cards five years ago.
The Wagner card in this collection is not from the American Tobacco cards. It's apparently from a line that was packaged with caramels. However, the legendary status of the players depicted, the rare nature of the series, and the surprisingly mint condition of the cards will serve the 20 heirs well.
That's Why They Call Them Collectibles
Why are classic baseball cards and old stamps so valuable? Scarcity helps, but the same thing can be said of other trading card series from other sports or licensed characters that just haven't stood the test of time.
It could be nostalgia, as young collectors are transformed into wealthy sentimentalists after decades of wear and tear.
The moral of the story remains the same: Never throw out your old baseball card collection.
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