Vintage Collection Discovered w/ 1915 Cracker Jack Shoeless Joe Jackson

Thousands of Vintage Cards Including Shoeless Joe, Honus Wagner, and Babe Ruth!
  • December 08, 2023

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A 1915 Cracker Jack Shoeless Joe Jackson baseball card was discovered in Massachusetts. One of the most coveted cards in the entire hobby was stored in a metal filing cabinet! Just Collect has proudly purchased the entire collection that also includes thousands of vintage baseball cards including a surprise Honus Wagner!

A family in Massachusetts reached out to Just Collect stating they had thousands of vintage cards including a small batch of 1914 Cracker Jack and 1915 Cracker Jack baseball cards that they were interested in selling. Among the 19 Cracker Jack cards was a Shoeless Joe Jackson. When hearing about the collection, I was told the cards were stored in an old metal filing cabinet! Could one of the most sought-after cards in the entire world of sports cards be sitting in a metal filing cabinet? I always advise to check Unexpected Places to Find Sports Cards. This isn't the first time vintage cards have been stored in a filing cabinet either; four 1967 Topps Tom Seaver rookie cards were living in a filing cabinet as part of this collection! Once I received the photos, I knew the cards were both real and indeed stored in the filing cabinet. I arranged to meet the family in Massachusetts.

THE COLLECTION

When I packed for the trip, I bought plenty of boxes and supplies for the amount of cards the family owned in their collection. Or so I thought. After arriving in the home and reaching opening the first draw of the filing cabinet, I realized the WHOLE cabinet was filled with cards. 

The first cards I removed from the cabinet were the Cracker Jacks. If you've ever been to a baseball game, chances are you've opened a box of the caramel popcorn and peanut combo to find a prize inside. In 1914, Cracker Jack inserted baseball cards into their boxes. The set has 144 cards including legends such as Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson, and more. Each card measures 2-1/4" by 3", featuring a beautiful, red background behind each player. For size comparison, a card today is 2-1/2" by 3.5". In 1915, Cracker Jack released a set of 176 cards. The 1915 release was inserted in boxes and you could also purchase a complete set by mail. The size and the vibrant-red background of the cards mirror the 1914 release and also stars Tris Speaker, Miller Huggins, Ed Roush, and three of the eventual 1919 "Black Sox" teammates Chick Gandil, Ed Cicotte, and Shoeless Joe Jackson.

The 1919 White Sox team had a few players unhappy with their owner, Charles Comiskey. In the early days of baseball, there was no free agency. If a player refused a contract from their current team, they could not play for any other professional baseball team. Looking for extra cash, eight players accepted money from gamblers to throw the 1919 World Series. One of those players, Shoeless Joe Jackson, reported he did not accept the bribe and refused to join meetings; his involvement is always debated. However, Jackson and seven others were banned from baseball. Looking at his statistics, you could lean towards Shoeless Joe NOT being in on the "fix" - he batted .375 which was tops amongst BOTH teams and set a World Series record with 12 base hits.

The allure of a Shoeless Joe Jackson card has always garnered interest in the hobby; the Cracker Jack card is a piece of history that nearly every collector has on their wish list. Under 200 copies of the Shoeless cards from 1914 and 1915 have been graded by PSA. In the first photo of the slide show below, you can see a closeup of the scarce Cracker Jack cards with Shoeless Joe front and center. How much has the world changed since these Cracker Jack cards were pulled from a box of popcorn and peanuts? In 1915, the average yearly income was $687. Not per week - for the year. A TV wasn't in homes for another 12 years, and movies hadn't had sound yet!

A SURPRISE HONUS WAGNER 

Among the filing cabinet drawers was a 1909 Philadelphia E-95 Honus Wagner! I was surprised to see the Wagner card as the family didn't mention owning this particular card during our initial call. A surprise Honus Wagner! The Philadelphia Caramel Company released a set of 25 cards 1-1/2" by 2-5/8" in size. On the front of each card is a color rendering with a white border. Honus Wagner is one of the 25 cards in this set, and here is one of the rarities in a filing cabinet. You can see Honus in the second photo of the slide show. 

Other vintage cards include 1911 T205 Gold Border cards. These cards released over a century ago were inserted into packs of tobacco. The American Tobacco Company created a 209-card set that are 1-7/16" by 2-5/8". As you can see in the third photo of the slide show, each card features a gold border around the player. Hundreds of cards from the famous 1909-1911 T206 set were in the cabinet drawers. T206 cards were also inserted in tobacco and is considered the most famous baseball set in our hobby. The most valuable sports card is included in the T206 set - the iconic Honus Wagner card. A T206 Honus Wanger sold for a record price of 7.25 million dollars. A batch of T206 cards can be seen in the fourth photo of the slide show. In the middle row of the T206 cards is a pair of Ty Cobb cards! T207 Brown Background cards from 1907 were also in the filing cabinet drawers. You can see these tobacco cards in the fifth photo of the slide show. The T207 cards have 207 cards in the set, contains stars such as Walter Johnson, Tris Speaker, and Chief Bender. The cards feature a brown background and a white border. 

As you scroll through the photos and you stop on picture five, you see cards from the 1933 Goudey set. There were HUNDREDS of the Goudey cards in the filing cabinet. Big League Gum increased the size of the baseball cards to 2-3/8" by 2-7/8" Among the 240-card set are multiple Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig cards. Inside the filing cabinet were indeed Babe Ruth and a Lou Gehrig cards. In the center row you see Jimmy Foxx, Babe Ruth, and Lou Gehrig. These Ruth and Gehrig cards are among the most desired in the hobby. I had the pleasure of purchasing a collection of over 800 Goudey cards that includes a total of 22 Ruth and Gehrig cards! You can see that historic collection HERE.

The metal filing cabinet has a Shoeless Joe Jackson card, an Honus Wagner card, and a Babe Ruth card. Yet there was still MORE.  As I opened more drawers, I found COMPLETE sets. 

The family had complete sets in their cabinet drawers as well like a 1956 Topps baseball set as shown in the sixth photo. In this set you have the chance to hold cards of Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, and so many players in the baseball record books. More modern sets from 1969 Topps featuring Reggie Jackson's rookie card and a 1970 Topps baseball set was found. 

This filing cabinet was a time capsule filled with generations of history. In 1909 when the T206 cards were released, you could rent a house for $15 per month. By 1956 when the Topps set was released, rent was around $42. You can't buy a box of baseball cards in 2023 for $42! Most of these cards came out decades before websites like our blog here existed, we hadn't landed on the moon, and you had to wear suit and tie to the baseball game when these players took the field.

 

Cracker Jack 2
Wagner 1
T205
T206 to Use
T207
Goudey Cards
1956

APPRAISAL AND PURCHASE

Your local card shop is generally not well equipped to appraise or purchase vintage collections like this. The retail stores are focused on selling modern products and simply don't have the time or the knowledge to carefully evaluate vintage collections. This is where I'm happy to help you. I have a two-step process: research and appraise the collection and then make the highest offer possible. With collections of this size, I must be thorough and treat the collection with the care it deserves. One thing to keep in mind when evaluating your cards is that condition is very important. One a scale from 1 to 10 with a perfect 10 being gem mint, even a difference of just one single grade could change the value of a card by thousands of dollars. The Cracker Jack and tobacco cards were stored inside of candy and tobacco products; often these cards would have caramel or tobacco stains which lowers the grade of the card as well as the value. Cards from the 1950's inserted into packs may be been placed in bike spokes or used in a game of flip. Using a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie card as an example, a card graded PSA 1 recently sold for $24,000 while a card graded PSA 3 sold for $48,100. Just two grades higher on a scale from 1 to 10 changes the value of a Mantle card by double. A PSA 9 Mickey Mantle rookie card is worth roughly 10 million dollars. 

After I reviewed a portion of the collection at the Massachusetts home, I ventured to my hotel where I continued to work, and returned to the home in the morning. Upon my return, the family found even MORE vintage cards! Not inside of the filing cabinet were several more boxes of cards. I sat with the family, showed them my Excel sheet with information on each card as I pointed out the value of the cards. I then answered questions the family had. One of their questions came after taking a look out the window at my car - could I fit the entire collection inside? In my best JAWS impression: Let's just say I should have brought a bigger car.

I made a fair offer for the entire collection that the family happily accepted. When you choose to sell your collection to Just Collect, I pay you how you want to be paid - cash, certified check, wire transfer, and maybe I can include supplies to properly store your collection so your valuables aren't in a metal filing cabinet 😁

My name is Leighton, owner of Just Collect, and professional sports card treasure hunter! If you're interested in selling your collection, reach out directly to Leighton@JustCollect.com. 

WE ARE ALWAYS BUYING

Just Collect is always buying vintage sports and non-sports cards from 1879 to 1979 as well as select modern cards. If you have a collection that you are considering selling, contact us today to discuss or get our industry-leading purchase offer. If you have a collection that you want appraised, please contact us and we would be happy to discuss your collection and help you understand the real cash value of your collection in the current marketplace. Check out the Just Collect Buy List.

We always offer a FREE APPRAISAL for your collection here at the Just Collect site. Just click here:

FREE APPRAISAL

We offer may ways to evaluate your cards other than or using our website, too.

  • Travel to Us

If you can make the trip here like the son from my hometown did for this collection- we can make a deal at the office. We once met a father-son duo that drove eight hours from Virginia to meet us to sell a Michael Jordan rookie card stored in Tupperware since 1986 - great read here

  • Come to convention

We keep a LIST of card shows we'll be attending.  Come stop by the Just Collect table and chat.

  • Meet in-person

If you have a valuable collection and want us to come to you, we'll hop on the next plane out.

  • Meet in New York City

We have another location in New York you can meet us at; read all the information here.

  • SHIP your collection 

If you choose to mail your cards for an appraisal, we will evaluate your cards for FREE still. If you choose not to sell the cards, we'll ship them back shipping fees paid by us!  We can offer our FedEx account with 2-day shipping, fully insured, all covered by us. Simply contact the office to set up this option.

OUR BUYING PHILOSOPHY

We've run into a wide range of people and collections over the last 25 years. Although Just Collect is known for buying vintage sports cards and especially vintage baseball cards, we are also extremely interested in buying non-sports cards, too!  

Every collection and every collector is different and we treat EVERY collection with the respect and attention that we show for our own collections. We understand that many have put their heart and souls into building their collections. So when you're ready to sell, we understand the feelings that you're going through and will work with you to help you reach a decision that is a WIN/WIN, because if you're not happy, we're not happy.

CONTACT US ANY TIME

Whether you have vintage cards or modern wax you want to sell, you can reach out to us any time! 

 

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