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'Black Swamp Find' Makes Debut With $566,132 in Sales

The world got their first chance at bidding on the Black Swamp Find of E98 baseball cards in Heritage Auctions' Platinum Night auction during the National Convention. The three lots total tallied $566,132.

The first offerings from “The Black Swamp Find” of 1910 E98 baseball cards – the best near “Set of 30” ever found (realized: $286,800), the finest known Honus Wagner card of its kind (realized: $239,000) and the color variations set (realized: $40,332) – brought $566,132 combined on Aug. 2 as part of Heritage Auctions Platinum Night® Sports auction at Camden Yards. All prices include Buyer’s Premium.

The “Black Swamp Find,” a complete treasure trove of more than 700 well-preserved, century-old baseball cards – discovered in the attic of a Defiance, Ohio house earlier this year by cousins Karla Kissner and Karla Hench – has captured the attention of the world this summer, and with good reason.

E98 Black Swamp Honus Wagnerweb

“These cards could have landed in the trash with other items being tossed out by the family after the final relative living there passed away,” said Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Auctions at Heritage. “Now it’s valued at several million dollars and is widely considered the most significant find of vintage baseball cards ever. You have a better chance of winning the lottery than making a find like this.”

The cards are all from a rare series known by collectors as “E98s” that were issued around 1910. The “Black Swamp” cards were acquired at the time for promotional purposes by Carl Hench, a German immigrant who owned Hench's Meat Market & Sausage Works in Defiance, which eventually became Chief Supermarket. 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.

“It might as well have been filled with gold," said Ivy, “which it was: Cardboard gold.”

When they discovered them in the attic, Karla and Karl didn’t know if the cards were genuine because they are smaller in size than modern cards and did not have players’ statistics printed on the backs. Fortunately, they decided to keep them and started doing research about the cards. Now the 20 heirs will share the proceeds from sales of the cards, which will be ongoing by Heritage Auctions.

Auction of the Week

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Collect Auctions Summer Auction

Collect Auctions bidding ends August 6 and bidders can view each lot on our website at www.collectauctions.net. There are more than 1,000 lots of vintage sports cards and sets; what we believe is the strongest unopened lineup any auction house has ever offered. Bidding ends Thursday, August 6 at 9:00 p.m. CST (10:00 EST).