A virtual treasure trove of recently discovered 1910-era E98 baseball cards has been hitting the airwaves of late. Here is some more information on the PSA-graded cards, courtesy of the card grader.The E98 find is part of the National Convention Platinum Night auction conducted by Heritage Auctions.
The multi-million dollar discovery in Ohio more than doubles the number of E98s certified by PSA and significantly increases the PSA Population Report for this series in Near-Mint and higher grades.
The find will now provide collectors with an unexpected opportunity to finally own an example of this elusive series and perhaps even assemble a complete set in high grade.
The E98 set consists of 30 cards, and 17 of the 30 players depicted are enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame including names familiar to today's generation of fans: Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner, Cy Young and the legendary double play combination players Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance.
"In terms of how this will impact the collecting market, it can be argued that this is the most significant find of vintage baseball cards ever reported when you evaluate the find in context," said Joe Orlando, president of PSA and editor of the Sports Market Report.
"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. 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."
According to Chris Ivy, Heritage Auctions Director of Sports Auctions, "The cards originally were acquired in 1910 by Carl Hench, a German immigrant who owned a small meat market in Defiance, Ohio. His heirs were cleaning their late grandfather's house when they found the cards in a box under an old doll house in the attic."
Heritage nicknamed the discovery "The Black Swamp Find" in reference to the Great Black Swamp that helped protect Ohio's Fort Defiance during the 1790's Northwest Indian War. The PSA holders for these E98 cards are specially labeled, "The Black Swamp Find," to identify and preserve their pedigree.
"Before the find, the highest grade ever achieved by an E98 Ty Cobb was PSA NM 7. A single copy reached that level after 21 years in business. To put this find in proper perspective, this discovery produced 16 PSA Mint 9 E98 Cobb cards alone," said Orlando.
"We graded one of the Honus Wagner cards a PSA 10 and several others reached PSA 9. Many of the cards from this find are spectacular, very colorful and in remarkable condition. There would have been more mint grades except for the centering on many of the cards; that's just how they were originally cut during their production a century ago," he explained.
"I've never seen anything like this where cards were fairly hard to find in any grade, but now one submission has doubled the population of PSA-graded examples, with most of the cards possessing a level of quality never seen before in the hobby. Some collectors may have given up hope of ever owning a set or even a single card from this set in high grade. Yet, now hobbyists have the opportunity to do exactly that, which was unimaginable prior to this discovery. I anticipate this find will boost interest in this historically-difficult card issue."
Thirty-seven of the recently discovered E98 cards are expected to sell for a combined total of $500,000 or more in the Heritage auction taking place August 2 in Baltimore. Additional cards will be offered by Heritage in the coming months.
"It's a cliché, but this is one of those once-in-a-lifetime discoveries that came out of nowhere: the ultimate buried treasure find. It's one thing to find a $10,000 autographed baseball or a $50,000 coin, but it's extraordinarily rare to find a single group of vintage baseball cards worth millions of dollars," said Orlando.