Ohio man finds obscure cards in attic; Could be worth millions


By Susan Lulgjuraj | Contributing Editor

Digging through an attic can be fun by uncovering old family treasures, secrets and sometimes even a stash of old baseball cards.

That’s the luck that Karl Kissner of Defiance, Ohio has seemed to found himself in.

He uncovered  a cardboard box that had been under a wooden dollhouse in his grandfather’s attic, according to the Associated Press. Inside the box, he found baseball cards bundled with twine, smaller than current cards.

According to the report, experts are calling this one of the greatest cardboard finds with many of the cards in terrific condition. Collectors will get a chance to see these cards at the National Sports Collectors Convention when some of the cards will be put up for auction.

”It’s like finding the Mona Lisa in the attic” Kissner told the Associated Press.

So what was in the group of about 700 cards?

The cards are from the E-98 series, according to the report, which is an extremely rare and obscure set. In Jefferson Burdick’s The American Card Catalog, he guesses a company named Briggs manufactured the cards, however, no one is really sure.

There is very little information known about the set other than there are 30 players in it.

Here’s more from AP’s report:

“The best of the bunch – 37 cards – are expected to bring a total of $500,000 …   They include such legends as Christy Mathewson and Connie Mack.

Kissner and his family say the cards belonged to their grandfather, Carl Hench, who died in the 1940s. Hench ran a meat market in Defiance, and the family suspects he got them as a promotional item from a candy company that distributed them with caramels. They think he gave some away and kept others.

”We guess he stuck them in the attic and forgot about them,” Kissner said. ”They remained there frozen in time.”

After Hench and his wife died, two of his daughters lived in the house. Jean Hench kept the house until she died last October, leaving everything inside to her 20 nieces and nephews. Kissner, 51, is the youngest and was put in charge of the estate. His aunt was a pack rat, and the house was filled with three generations of stuff.

They found calendars from the meat market, turn-of-the-century dresses, a steamer trunk from Germany and a dresser with Grandma’s clothes neatly folded in the drawers.

Months went by before they even got to the attic. On Feb. 29, Kissner’s cousin Karla Hench pulled out the dirty green box with metal clips at the corners and lifted the lid.

Not knowing whether the cards were valuable, the two cousins put the box aside. But Kissner decided to do a little research. The cards were at his office in the restaurant he owns when he realized they might have something. He immediately took them across the street and put them in a bank vault.

Still not knowing whether the cards were real, they sent eight to expert Peter Calderon at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, which recently sold the baseball that rolled through the legs of Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner in the 1986 World Series for $418,000.

Calderon said his first words were ”Oh, my God.”

”I was in complete awe,” he said. ”You just don’t see them this nice.”

The cards were sent off to PSA. A magical find considering 16 of the Ty Cobbs from the set graded a 9. No Cobb from the E-98 set had ever received a grade higher than a 7 before.

Heritage Auctions plans to sell most of the cards over the next two of three years through auctions and private sales so that it doesn’t flood the market. In all, they could bring $2 or $3 million, Chris Ivy, Heritage Auctions’ director of sports auctions told the AP.

“The E98 set was always considered one of the most desirable candy issues from the early part of the 20th century, but not many high-quality copies were known,” PSA President Joe Orlando said. “In the 21 years PSA has been in business, we’d only graded about 625 examples, but now that population of certified E98 cards literally has doubled, and a large percentage of the recently discovered cards grade PSA NM 7 or better, which is remarkable.”

Here’s a link for the auctions.

Susan Lulgjuraj is a contributing editor for Beckett Media. You can email Susan here. Follow her on Twitter here.


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  1. KZed 10 July, 2012 at 23:04

    That is insane, a great “barn find” story. I can’t believe the condition on those, they look like modern reprints, they are so vivid and clean!

  2. Mitch Jomsky 11 July, 2012 at 06:41

    Unbelievable! There’re in amazing condition, too. Tinker to Evers to Chance! Sweet!
    Cobb, Wagner, McGraw, Mack ….. Jeez.
    Heck, I’ve pulled some cards out of new packs that didn’t look as nice.
    On the other hand …. What?! No autographs? No GU relics!? No SP, Serial Numbered, holofoil, rare gold foil, parallel cards? What a lousy box break! Chris Olds did better with his Ripping Retail 2012 A&G blaster box video!!
    LOL, MJ

  3. Richard 11 July, 2012 at 11:16

    It’s good thing they are patient.
    As it is, lots of the hard core collectors with the lower graded ones are likely to try to “upgrade” and
    I’m sure they will be thankful that they could get as much back out of their lower graded examples.

    I do expect that the lower graded examples to drop quite a bit because of this since what once was
    thought of as the “best example” might look quite shabby compared to some of the cards in this find.

  4. Reino Berggren 12 July, 2012 at 06:39

    hmm.are they really old. Only one seems old ( lower row 4 card had little dirty white color ) and rest of bright white color and really good edges. Ty Cobbs card text ( “TY” Cobb Detroit ) i have seen internet baseball museum picture same kind card with orange color but different text. so hmm

  5. Charlie DiPietro 12 July, 2012 at 09:10

    I’m jealous. Not really. Congratulations to the family on this amazing find. I bought E98s in the 1980s when I could afford them. Mine grade in the 3s. I don’t think I can afford to upgrade with these.

  6. Frank Garvis 12 July, 2012 at 14:37

    Can’t believe these sat in a box in an attic for almost 100 years and are in this good shape. How is that possible? How is it I’m pulling auto cards from packs that can’t grade better than an 8? I need to start hitting up some estate sales lol.

  7. Michal Sahlen 16 July, 2012 at 07:12

    “For sale nice house in Ohio, great condition, quiet district, large garden. Price $2 790 000 (or $300 000 w/o the cards).”

  8. Colleen Simsa 16 July, 2012 at 20:45

    Amazing, Awesome! Treasure box like JACKPOT! Very excellent cards, so rare! Be honest, I am JEALOUS!

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