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Baseball card found at yard sale to fetch $100K, maybe more

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 13th, 2013
Catholic Online (

Part of the fun of yard sales is the often clueless sellers unaware of the true value of the things they have dismissed as "junk." Case in point, a Baileyville, Maine yard sale yielded a baseball card of an obscure American baseball team. The buyer bought the card with various other items for $100. That card is now expected to fetch six figures at auction.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The card shows nine players for the Brooklyn Atlantics gathered around their manager. The Atlantics were an obscure baseball team that took to the diamond long before the Yankees by at least 50 years. The card is seen as an invaluable part of U.S. sports history.

The Saco River Auction Co., in Biddeford, Maine, says that the rare 1865 baseball card was discovered in a photo album bought in rural Maine on the Canadian border. The card goes to auction on February 6.

The card is dissimilar to the modern day trading card. The baseball card the world knows today only came into being in the 1880s. The card is an original photograph from 1865 of the Brooklyn Atlantics amateur baseball club mounted on a card.

Officials say that they are aware of only two such cards in existence, the other at the Library of Congress. Putting a dollar-figure value on it is difficult, but it's expected to fetch at least $100,000 at auction.

"There hasn't been another one that's sold," Troy Thibodeau of Saco River Auction Co. says. "When there are only two known in the world, what's it worth?"

The auction house sold a rare 1888 card of Hall of Fame baseball player Michael "King" Kelly for $72,000 last year. The priciest baseball card ever is a 1909 Honus Wagner card, which sold for $2.8 million in 2007.

The Library of Congress has had another copy of the Brooklyn Atlantics photograph since the late 1800s, when it took possession of it from a New York court where the photographer, Charles Williamson, had submitted it for copyright.

The Library of Congress, in its book "Baseball Americana," calls it the first dated baseball card, handed out to supporters and opposing teams in a gesture of bravado from the brash Brooklynites, who were dominant and won their league championships in 1861, 1864 and 1865.

The Library of Congress knows of only two existing copies. A trading card grading firm, Sportscard Guaranty LLC, has authenticated the card as the real thing, said Bob Luce, senior grader at the New Jersey Company.

The man, who bought the card at a yard sale, bought a photo album with the card, old Coca-Cola bottles and a couple of oak chairs for less than $100.

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