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One of Baseball Cards Rarest Discoveries: The Black Swamp Find

When Karl Kissner’s aunt died in Defiance, Ohio in 2011, she had given her century-old family home to Karl and his cousins ​​as an inheritance. The exterior of the house was in ruins, and the clutter inside filled the rooms as if it hadn’t been cleaned in a century. However, the dilapidated house could not stop Karl and Karla, another family member, from rummaging because his aunt had left him a note that they “would find things that (they) didn’t know existed”. (Fox TV Business Network, “Strange Legacy”).

After cleaning most of the interior, the attic was the last place Karl and Karla had to search. But this attic was different from the rest of the house because it contained most of the old heirlooms and the keys to potential family secrets. It wasn’t until they cleared some items piled on top of each other up to the rafters that they discovered a small dust-covered box that was resting against the back wall. When they opened it, they discovered over 700 small photos of some 30 famous baseball players from the early 20th century tied together by a string. These images included great players like Ty Cobb, Cy Young, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Connie Mack, to name a few. Among the giant horde, each player had about 12-16 additional identical cards. Although Karl thought none of them were real baseball cards, as none looked like modern cards that include player stats, dates, and the name of the company that made them. Karl put the collection aside until they were done going through the rest of the attic.

Karl’s aunt, Jeanne Hench was the daughter of Carl Hench who had emigrated from Germany and lived the American dream as a successful meat merchant and store owner. He died in the 1940s and left most of his belongings in the attic of the family home, including the mysterious box of strange cards in pristine condition. Mr. Hench’s grandson believed he received the cards as promotional items from a candy store.

Later, Karl opened the box and examined each one. He went online and researched each of the 30 players featured in the collection. The more he searched, the more he imagined huge dollar signs flying into his bank account. Karl knew the next logical step was to have all 700 professionals authenticated. He called Peter Calderon, a baseball card expert in Dallas, Texas, and sent him samples of the collection.

After examining each card, Calderon almost hit the ceiling when he realized that the cards were extremely rare vintage originals in mint condition. Each was identified as a series of “E98” cards from 1910. Karl told him he had many more and sent them to Calderon.

Calderon immediately informed Karl that his cards were genuine and extremely valuable. After much jubilation, Calderon set them up with Heritage Auction to sell a fraction of the cards instead of the entire lot, as selling the 700 in total would flood the market for older baseball card collectors, which could potentially reduce sales. baseball values. multi-million dollar card industry. Over a period of time, the Heritage auction house sold the partial lot for a total of over $1,800,000. The rest was divided equally among twenty of Karl’s cousins ​​to do with as they pleased. Needless to say, Karl and each of his cousins ​​could easily retire by auctioning off the rest of the cards, and they will do just that, but gradually so as not to harm the card industry. baseball.

The rest of the collection was estimated at $3 million. The collection that Karl discovered was given the name “Black Swamp Find” to link the geographical and historical region of northwest Ohio to add notoriety to the extensive collection of some of the baseball card collections oldest and rarest.

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