Two of the most valuable cards in the collection: Ty Cobb (left) and Honus "Hans" Wagner.
Two of the most valuable cards in the collection: Ty Cobb (left) and Honus "Hans" Wagner. Heritage Auctions
"My grandfather stuck it in the attic a hundred years ago and here it is now, a blessing to his grandchildren."
A blessing for sure.
As the Toledo Blade reports, when Karl Kissner and his cousins were clearing out his grandfather's home in Defiance, Ohio, on Feb. 29 they came across a box of very rare and very valuable baseball cards.
According to the Blade, "experts say the trove of about 700 nearly mint cards just might represent the greatest and rarest discovery in the sports card industry's history. The best of the collection is expected to fetch more than $500,000 at the National Sports Collectors Convention next month in Baltimore while the entire stock could bring in $3 million."
Heritage Auctions, which is handling the sale of the cards, calls this the "Black Swamp Find" because of the "damp landscape on the edge of Defiance." The best cards in the cache, the Blade says, "are part of a rare 30-player set distributed with caramel candy in 1910. Only 635 of the undersized rectangular cards from the E98 series were known to exist."
According to the family, granddad (Carl Hench) ran a meat market southwest of Toledo and apparently collected the cards that came with the candies. "We guess he stuck them in the attic and forgot about them," Kissner told The Associated Press. Hench dies in the 1940s, AP adds.
The set in Defiance had been "frozen in time beneath a wooden doll house and a century's worth of dust," the Blade adds.
Heritage says the players represented include greats such as "Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Chief Bender, Christy Mathewson, Connie Mack, Frank Chance, Hughie Jennings, Johnny Evers, Roger Bresnahan [and] Cy Young."
The AP reports that the family is "evenly dividing the cards and the money" among 20 cousins" named in the will of an aunt who lived in the house until her death last October.