Family's baseball card discovery could lead to millions

Family's baseball card discovery could lead to millions

Family's baseball card discovery could lead to millions
In one of the most valuable sports collector finds ever, an Ohio family's recent discovery of century-old baseball cards in an attic could fetch the clan millions of dollars.

Karl Kissner made the discovery, along with one of his cousins, while helping clean out his late grandfather's attic in late February. The grandfather and his wife passed away in the 1940s, but left the home to two of his daughters. One of the daughters, Jean Hench, maintained the house until she died last October, and left everything to her 20 nieces and nephews.

Amid everything she left was that box of baseball cards hidden away in the attic, which experts now say could be worth up to $3 million.

"We guess he [his grandfather] stuck them in the attic and forgot about them," Kissner told The Associated Press. "They remained there frozen in time."

The cards -- which contain legends like Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Cy Young, Christy Mathewson and Connie Mack -- are from the rare E98 series issued around 1910. Though it's unclear who manufactured the series, it contains just 30 players, half of which are Hall of Famers.

"It's like finding the Mona Lisa in the attic," Kissner said.

Upon the initial discovery, Kissner let the cards sit for two weeks before looking further into their potential value. After some research indicated the family might be sitting on something pretty special, he sent eight cards to expert Peter Calderon at Heritage Auctions in Dallas.

Calderon was taken aback by the sight -- and condition -- of the collectibles. They then sent all of the cards to Professional Sports Authenticator. The company, which had previously authenticated fewer than 700 E98s, said this particular series was the best it had ever seen.

"I was in complete awe," said Calderon."You just don't see them this nice."

The highest grade, on a 1-10 scale, the company had ever given an E98 Ty Cobb card was a seven. Sixteen different Cobb cards in Kissner's bunch ranked a nine. The startling find even contained a Honus Wagner that was judged a perfect 10, a first for the company when it comes to E98s.

As for the next step, the 37 best cards from the collection are expected to fetch $500,000 at an August auction during the National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore.

The Hench family is evenly dividing the cards and money among the 20 cousins named in their aunt's will. The majority have agreed to sell their share of the cards, which Heritage Auctions plans to sell over the next two or three years through auctions and private sales to avoid flooding the market.

In all, the contents of that dusty box from the attic are expected to bring in somewhere between $2 million to $3 million.

Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.