The “Black Swamp Find” and the “Lucky 7 Find” are two significant baseball card discoveries in the last decade that have captivated collectors.
Those finds produced eye-popping pre-war tobacco cards from T206s to 1910 E98 that feature high-grade examples of plenty of Ty Cobb masterpieces.
Following every significant sports card find, collectors hold their breath for the next important discovery in the hobby. The “Yahtzee Box Find” is the next in line.
The collection was discovered in a “Yahtzee!” game box. It features extremely rare candy cards, including a 1914 E224 Texas Tommy Ty Cobb graded PSA 1 and a “Shoeless” Joe Jackson graded PSA 2.5. It is the first Texas Tommy Cobb card ever graded and just the second Jackson ever authenticated by a professional grading company.
In all, there are eight Texas Tommy cards in the find, bringing the total authenticated population to 39 by PSA and 36 by SGC. Also included in the find were over 300 cards from such sets as the 1922 E121 American Caramel, Zee-Nut PCL series, 1921 National Caramel and 1917 Collins-McCarthy cards.
All will be featured in SCP Auctions’ Summer Premier Auction that runs Aug. 12-28. The “Yahtzee Box Find” turned out to be a vintage gold mine and quite significant for the hobby.
“It’s a big one,” SCP’s Auction Director Brendan Wells said. “There have been some big finds in the last three-four years, the ‘Lucky 7 Find,’ some T206 finds...This one is very significant because the set’s practically extinct. It’s so off the radar to many collectors, so some may have to educate themselves on the cards’ obscurity to have an idea of their market value, how coveted they really are.”
There is also another interesting wrinkle to the find: Every card was acquired from a candy company.
“There are so few candy card collections out there as opposed to tobacco card collections, so that makes it stand out as one of the more unique finds,” Wells said.
Wells worked with the consignor, who wishes to remain anonymous for the time being, when the collection was brought into SCP Auctions. Wells couldn’t believe the phenomenal examples of the Cobb and Jackson Texas Tommy cards.
“The grades aren’t that high, but these cards were distributed in candy bar packages,” Wells said. “Probably how they were distributed, it was tough to keep them in good condition. You have to assume a lot of these candy bar packages end up going to kids – and these kids probably aren’t going to be as careful as an adult would be with a tobacco pack. After the kid eats the candy he may handle the card haphazardly, while an adult who buys a pack of cigarettes takes a good look at the card and thinks, ‘Hey, this might be valuable someday’ and puts it away some place safe.”
There isn’t a ton known about the origins of how the Texas Tommy collection came about. The consignor received the cards from his grandfather, who got them handed down from his father. The grandfather was a World War II veteran who lived in the San Francisco Bay area.
The consignor, who resides in Orange County, Calif., was given the cards before his grandfather died about 15 years ago.
“At one point they were put in this Yahtzee box and stored in the dark corner of a closet, and the son of the original collector kept them there for decades before he passed them down to his grandson, the current consignor,” Wells said. “The consignor took care of his grandfather before he passed away. He was one of his caretakers and considered ‘the favorite’ because he spent so much time with his grandfather. So the cards were essentially a gift for taking such good care of him.”
When the grandson received the cards, he didn’t know how much they were worth. Years down the line, he looked them up online and found out the scarcity.
“He looked through them before his grandpa died, but I don’t think he really spent much time researching if there was any value to them until recently,” Wells said.
Other notable cards in the “Yahtzee Box Find” that will be in SCP’s August 12-28 auction are a 1922 American Caramel E121 Cobb PSA VG 3 and Babe Ruth PSA FR 1.5; Zee-Nut 1911 E136 (Pacific Coast League) near set, 103 of 122 cards along with eight duplicates and a PSA-graded Buck Weaver; Weaver PSA VG 3; and a Zee-Nut 1917 E137 Frank Chance, population one, none higher.
The Texas Tommy cards are part of a unique 66-card set. It is comprised of Type 1 versions, 54 in all, which have the players’ bios and stats on the back of the card; and Type 2s, 12 in all, which are smaller with blank backs. The Cobb, Jackson and a Walter Johnson are all Type 1 versions.
Since the Cobb is the only graded version that exists and the Jackson is the second – the first one has yet to surface at auction – speculation on how much the cards could go for is running rampant.
“Obviously, the Cobb and the Joe Jackson, I’ve been talking to a few people and they’ve been giving me different evaluations and estimates and numbers on stuff and they’re saying low six figures, mid six figures,” Wells said. “Who knows what these could go for? It’s anyone’s guess.”
In recent years, rare Jackson and Cobb cards have fetched big paydays. A T210 Old Mill Jackson graded PSA 3.5 sold for $600,000 in 2019 and a Jackson from that same set graded SGC 3.5 went for $492,000 in May of this year. A T206 Cobb red background, recognized as his most rare card, sold for $408,000 in 2018.
Other big-name cards up for auction in the Texas Tommy set are a Stuffy McInnis Type 1, PSA 2, the only known example; Frank Chance Type 2, proof/test card; Larry Doyle Type 1, PSA 2; and two Vean Gregg Type 1, PSA 3 and 2, respectively.
Texas Tommy cards were produced by the Cardinet Candy Company. Since they were distributed just regionally out west with the company being based in Oakland, Calif., there were lower print runs for the cards.
With the Texas Tommy cards being relatively unknown to collectors, and most have never seen examples, Wells is expecting a great response at auction.
“We’ve already had some big-time collectors, some clients of ours and some new guys, calling in asking questions.” Wells said. “Trying to get a sense of how high they’ll have to bid to get the Cobb or Jackson.”
“A lot has to do with education. Knowledge is power. You have to do your own research sometimes to determine, “man, these are really rare!’ There’s nothing outlandish by saying they are the rarest Ty Cobb and Joe Jackson cards known to exist, because that’s the truth.”