Imagine you get saddled with the awful job of having to clean out your great grandfather’s old attic. You know it’s going to be mothballed clothes from the Depression and probably inch thick dust on everything.
Now imagine as you go through all that stuff you come across a paper bag so old it starts crisping and falling to pieces in your hand. And as you unfold the paper to see what’s inside, out pops 7 pieces of cardboard. 7 baseball cards featuring Ty Cobb, one of the greatest players in the history of baseball, all printed sometime between 1909 and 1911. 7 baseball cards more than a century old. What do you think that would be worth?
The official answer is over a million dollars. Previously it was thought only a small handful of these cards had survived, no more than 15. Now that 7 new ones have popped up their overall value is going to have to change, but owning 7 of them means you’re comfortably considered a millionaire.
The family who found the cards had them independently verified and they are the real deal. Their quality, given how old the cards are, is considered pretty much excellent.
If sportscards aren’t your thing, to try to understand the significance of this, the president of Professional Sports Authenticators has said he’s not sure if there’s ever been a more significant discovery before. This is like finding Jimmy Hoffa. Only you can sell him in 7 pieces.
The family first took the cards to a local dealer in South Carolina who had all but written them off as frauds. In the sports card business no one calls you and says they have 7 Ty Cobb cards from 1909, do you want to take a look at them? No one who isn’t full of crap, anyway. But after seeing them, he was convinced they were the real deal. The same thing happened again with the Sports Authenticators. It sounds too good to be true, but sometimes things turn out to be legit.
The cards bear a simple image of Ty Cobb on the front and on the back say “King of the Smoking Tobacco World” because athleticism and tobacco country were pretty closely related back in the day.
The family who found the cards have yet to say what they plan to do with them. Suppose you’d just inherited over a million dollars’ worth of baseball cards, what would you do?