When Karl Kissner found a soot-covered box in his grandfather’s attic, which was full of hundreds of baseball cards, he didn’t think much of it. They were smaller than the baseball cards he was used to seeing, even though some of the names were familiar, like Hall of Famers Cy Young, Ty Cobb, and Honus Wagner.
He placed the box on a dresser and went back to cleaning. Fox News reports that he didn’t learn until two weeks later that his family had come across what could be one of the biggest and most exciting finds in the history of baseball card collection, worth possibly millions of dollars.
Yahoo News notes that the cards are from an incredibly rare series, which was issued around 1910. Until now, the few known to exist were in okay condition at best, featuring worn edges and faded images. The ones Kissner found in his grandfather’s attic, however, are pristine, and have been untouched for more than 100 years. Kissner stated of the find that, “It’s like finding the Mona Lisa in the attic.”
Kissner and his family have said that the cards belonged to Carl Hench, who died in the 1940s. Kissner’s grandfather ran a meat market in Defiance, and the family thinks he may have gotten the cards as a promotional item from a candy company, who distributed them along with caramels. He probably gave some away, but kept the rest. Karl Kissner stated:
“We guess he stuck them in the attic and forgot about them. They remained there frozen in time.”
USA Today reports that the family sent eight cards to expert Peter Calderon at Heritage Auctions in Dallas. Calderon’s first words were, “Oh, my God.” He went on to say, “I was in complete awe. You just don’t see them this nice.”
After this, the Kissner family sent all of the cards to Professional Sports Authenticator, who said that the cards from Ohio were the best examples from the E98 series the company had ever seen. The company grades cards on a 1-to-10 scale, and gave sixteen of the cards a 9, with a Honus Wagner card judged as a 10, a first for the series.
The 20 cousins mentioned in Kissner’s will have evenly divided up the cards, and all but a few have decided to sell their share. Heritage auctions will sell those cards over the next two to three years through auctions and private sales. In all, they could bring in between $2 and $3 million.