Discovery of Collectible Baseball Cards Worth More than $3 Million

Photo Courtesy of Heritage Auctions

A literal treasure chest of collectible baseball cards with an estimated value of more than $3 million surfaced in the attic of a house in Defiance, Ohio, this winter, according to a report filed this morning on the website of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. The collection will be part of an auction at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore’s Camden Yards ballpark next month held by Heritage Auctions.

“This could be considered the greatest single find of cards ever,” said Joe Orlando, president of Professional Sports Authenticator, as reported earlier this morning by the PPG. Mr. Orlando personally verified the value of the baseball cards found by Karl Kissner in a steamer chest with his grandfather’s belongings. Orlando also speculated that $3 million would be a conservative estimate of the potential value of these baseball cards.

Twenty-seven of a 30-card set of 1910 E98 baseball cards will be the centerpiece of the Vintage Sports Collectibles Platinum Signature Auction, according to Chris Ivy, director of sports for Heritage. Three lots consisting of a total of 37 cards that include Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, Connie Mack, Frank Chance, Johnny Evers, and Cy Youngwill be offered for sale at the event. The pre-auction sales estimate of these three lots exceeds $600,000.

Heritage Auctions dubbed the greatest single find of baseball cards as the "Black Swamp Find" due to the location of the discovery being on the dampened landscape in the rural area.  

“This is an auction of incredible depth and breadth, so to name these cards the centerpiece is no small thing,” said Mr. Ivy. “These gems emerged from a small Ohio town, discovered in an attic in a box forgotten for a century beneath an ancient dollhouse. You have a better chance of winning the lottery than of making such a rare discovery.”

While baseball legend Babe Ruth is known to have given out thousands of autographs in his storied life, an autographed ball signed by Babe and given by his widow to Hollywood publicist William Stoll, who worked on The Babe Ruth Story film in 1948, is considered the finest Babe Ruth single-signed baseball known. The autographed baseball is expected to sell for more than $300,000 at the auction.  

“As far as sports autographs go, this ball could well be the ‘Crown Jewel,’" said Mr. Ivy.

For more information on Heritage Auction’s Vintage Sports Collectibles Platinum Signature Auction, visit

James Rothaar

As an independent contractor, James has written content for and other leading online luxury lifestyle magazines. Rothaar previously served as the senior-tenured staff writer for JustLuxe, having worked with the digital magazine since 2005. He resides in Jacksonville, Florida, and works as an independent marketing consultant and a freelance writer. James Rothaar has an MBA degree...(Read More)

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