It's not everyday that someone shows up at your office with a baseball card that's more rare than a T206 Wagner, and worth more than a Lamborghini. However, a few weeks ago, the baseball card gods were on our side, and we had one of those days that we'll remember forever.
That's right, this little guy showed up in our office:
A gentlemen from south Jersey stopped by our office to show us his collection of cards he had acquired, which dated back to the early 1900s. This collection was passed down from his great uncle to his father, and now down to him. He's had the cards for quite some time now, but National news circulating about the "Lucky 7" find sparked his interest in the collection again, so he went back to check out what he had. After doing some research, he found out he was sitting on a gold mine, and it was time to finally sell. With only a blurry picture and a 1-line email to go on, we invited him down to our office to check out his collection.
We had no idea if the card was real or not. The pictures he had sent us were not great. And we also know how rare the card is (I believe there's only about 20 known in existence). So I was a bit skeptical at first, plus he was just so calm about having a $100,000 just causally laying around.
He came down to our office shortly after contacting us, and we set up an appraisal appointment. After holding and inspecting the card for about a minute, I knew it was the real deal. The size made sense. Coloring made sense. Aging made sense. Paper stock made sense. It even smelled right. And after hearing the story of how he got the cards passed down to him, the provenance made sense. BUT I knew that it was not commoditized and sellable until PSA graded it. We had to get out there and get it authenticated. I believed it to be a solid PSA 1, so we made him an offer based on that assumption. If it were to come back as authentic without a numerical grade, the deal was off, and it'd be back to the drawing board for us. So, with that said, we made him a very strong offer, and gave him some time to think about it. After taking the weekend to think about the offer (aka discuss this life changing moment with his wife), he gave us the green light and we caught the next plane out to Cali, where Joe Orlando and his team were patiently waiting for our arrival. After a few hours, we were able to get the card graded, and wouldn't ya know, it came back graded as a PSA 1! We were thrilled. He was trilled. PSA was thrilled. What a find this was!
This T206 Ty Cobb, featuring a Ty Cobb back, is truly incredible. The back is what makes this card so rare. There 16 types of backs you can have on a T206 card, with most being printed with the Piedmont & Sweep Caporal advertisements. There's close to 130,000 examples in just the PSA registry with those backs. If you're able to find a T206 with a Drum, Lenox or Uzit back, you get super stoked - because those are considered the rare ones. But finding the Ty Cobb with the Ty Cobb back is like winning the lottery. There's only 19 in the PSA registry – with the highest ever graded being a PSA 4. TOUGH CARD to say the least.
I've been knee deep in this hobby for over three decades now, and I've never bought or sold a Ty Cobb back. I've had the privilege of seeing one before, but never owned one. Over the last five or six years, there's only been two public sales of this card in a PSA 1. The first being in the summer of 2013, where it sold for a pedestrian $117,000. Nine months later, another example sold for $154,000 – about a 32% increase in value. We expect this example to follow suit.
However, it's not for sale yet. We're gonna hold onto it for a while to decide on the best route to sell the card. We have a lot of different options available - both public and private - so we're going to take the time to get this right. Good news is, we're bringing the card with us down to The National sports Card Collectors Convention in a few months, so you'll be able to see it on display there if you stop by our booth!
Do you have any super rare vintage card in your collection? We'd love to see it. Shoot us an email with images of the front and back, and we'll let you know what the card is worth. And remember, we're always looking to buy – so if you're looking to sell, let us know!
This card has already gained the attention of national media, as Forbes wrote up a story about it. You can read that here: "Another Rare, $100K Ty Cobb Baseball Card Surfaces, This Time In New Jersey"