The second box of cards I picked up Wednesday afternoon at Nick’s Sports Cards in Dallas was a box of Topps American Heritage — a product loaded with cards of historical figures such as Buffalo Bill, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Robert Peary, Winslow Homer and many, many others.
But what I found about halfway through the box wasn’t what I expected at all — something that had eluded me for more than 20 years of collecting (well at least the last decade or so since memorabilia cards became en vogue).
A Babe Ruth game-used memorabilia card.
It came at the right moment in the box — I had been asking myself why I sprung for the final box the shop had after seeing one too many Chester Nimitzes among the packs (think Topps Fan Favorites meets the non-sport section of Allen & Ginter but with a small eclectic influx of pop culture). But the item above, with a piece of Lou Gehrig‘s game-used pants and The Bambino’s bat embedded into the cardboard, gave me an answer.
Limited to just 20 copies, it’s definitely a good find in the hobby boxes that merely yield two autographs or Relics per. How good? One in 4,950 packs good.
Right now, Heritage is a strong seller largely in part because of the curiosity surrounding Barack Obama cards. Once the interest dies down, a product like this could struggle on the secondary market — making it a fun rip if found at the right price.
Will a set like this burn up the secondary market down the line? Probably not, but there is a history lesson in every pack — these cards would be a popular thing for history buffs to pick up or great educational tool for teachers.
Come to think of it, that’s pretty valuable after all.
Here’s a gallery of a few other cards found in the box.
Chris Olds has collected sports cards and memorabilia since 1987. Before coming to Beckett Media, he wrote about the hobby for the Orlando Sentinel on his blog, SportsStuff, and for the San Antonio Express-News and The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News. Do you have a comment, question or idea? Send e-mail to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.