In December of 2009, I wrote a blog entry about a friend of mine that found attic treasure, that being a box of old baseball cards worth thousands. The news earlier this month about a family in Ohio that discovered a cigar box of baseball cards from the early 20th century brought a smile to my face. That would be so cool if that happened to any of us. In the meantime, I will enjoy the excitement the family must be experiencing.
I do not know baseball cards very well. I have some stored away, but I don’t think they will ever be worth much. I assume if I saw some cards that looked old I would check them out. That is what the family did, and to their pleasant amazement the cards are not worth tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands, but actually millions. I had no idea that any baseball cards could bring that value, and yet some of the cards are so old with some big names like Ty Cobb and Honus Wagoner that they indeed are expected to fetch a high price. I wish the family well.
I can at least say at one time I owned a baseball team. Go to Antique Treasure in “my categories” of my blog and find the Roadshow Treasure article from Feb 2010. I went to Vegas recently and thought about selling my team to Pawn stars, but both times I went by the shop, the line was way out the door.
I occasionally hear about hear about a rich uncle leaving wealth to all the relatives after he passes. I don’t think I actually know of anyone who has inherited a late uncle’s riches, although it seems to be a recurring theme in the British mystery plots on Masterpiece Theater that my wife watches. I occasionally watch one of the shows with her. Seems like someone is often murdered in order for someone else to get more of the eventual money.
The closest I have come to inherited wealth from an uncle was a family reunion a few years ago when second cousin informed that one of our late great uncle’s had left some oil money to everyone in the family. It was a pretty big reunion so I suspected after all the money trickled down from the great aunts and uncles (12) and their children and grand children, to my own parents, there may not be much left. I got a call the following week from an attorney verifying who I was and informing me a check would soon arrive. A few weeks later I grinned when I showed my wife a check for all of forty dollars. It was interesting that within a few months my wife’s side of the family also had some oil money come in. Same thing, it had to be split up. Fortunately, it was a little better: we got a check for about 1,800 dollars. I told my wife to just keep it and enjoy it. I think she gave a lot of it to charity. I have to be careful here so I don’t get in trouble. She also helped financially for me go to Cozumel for some scuba diving. It had been a number a years since I had gone. I always love it. Let’s talk about some real treasure, a great uncle’s stash.
A man was cleaning out his late great uncle’s house when he came upon a collection of comic books. I had heard of attic treasure. These were found in the basement, but they turned out to be treasure indeed. His great uncle began collecting during the 1930’s, right when a lot of action heroes were debuting in the comics. His treasure trove of comics included original issues of Superman, Batman, Captain America, and Detective Comics. Actually, the collection included over 40 of the top 100 issues of that golden age of comics. The comics were in remarkably good shape. The collection auctioned in Dallas recently for about 3.5 million dollars. Now that is a cool.
About eight years ago my wife’s mom passed away. I took a long weekend and went to help with her dad moving out the house they had lived in for about 40 years. I remember him telling me as we cleaned out some of the closets that he had not seen the back of the shelves for decades, and had no idea what was back there. It was a good size house, with a number of closets. It was a very, very long weekend of packing boxes before the movers came. If you like old books and old vinyl records it would have made your day. I cannot tell you how many boxes of books we hauled out of there. There were no comics. I’m sure there was some stuff we hauled out of there that my wife still treasures. I would have rather had the comics.
A friend told me that when he was in high school a neighbor or perhaps an older lady at church, (I cannot recall exactly), asked if he would help clean out her attic. He graciously accepted and spent a morning helping her do so.
In the process of removing everything including a bunch of boxes they discovered one was a shoebox full of baseball cards. She said keep them, they’re yours for helping. After finishing the project he went home to explore what cards were in the shoebox. To his pleasant surprise many were quite valuable. There were four Babe Ruth cards, the entire 1933 Yankees team and several other important players.
He returned to let her know these weren’t just any old baseball cards and that some could fetch some money. She said, “I told you they are yours and I’m going to stick to my word.”
When he had them appraised several collectors mentioned they could be worth as much as $15,000 dollars. He held onto them for a number of years until one day came when he was in a pinch for money. I don’t think he got the $15,000, but he did get several thousand for them.
The moral to the story . . . don’t pass up an invitation to clean grandma’s attic.
On the other hand . . . When my grandmother died and I showed up to help clean the house, I had a different experience. I literally went to just help because she was one of my most favorite people I have ever known. Just loved me for who I was, unconditional love. The type that enjoyed making a cake for me whenever I came to visit, which I tried to do often. Anyway, the moment I set foot in the door I was politely told who was going to get the TV, who was going to get the antique punch bowel and so forth. I spent the morning cleaning the house but was told I was welcome to whatever was in the pantry. I was able to leave with a grocery sack of some cans of soup, Kraft macaroni, and so forth. Seems that everyone that had claim to something never showed to help clean. As a matter of fact, I don’t recall them visiting her much. Such is life. I will however treasure the memory of her love forever.
A footnote to the baseball card side of the story: I coached my oldest son for five years. I didn’t collect cards as a kid so I thought it might be fun to do as a father-son activity. We started buying cards for him in the early 90,s. We only did it for about three years because I realized the market for cards was being flooded and that they weren’t going to go up in value as they did in the old days. We would sometimes buy a whole set for a particular year and I said, “let’s leave these for years from now.” I would by him other cards to trade and deal with his friends. They are still on the shelf in my closet unopened, brand new. One set we bought for $19.95 in 1991. Last year we were walking through a mall and stopped at a store selling sports memorabilia. It had the same year, company everything on a box of a brand new 1991 card set, exactly what is in my closet. Never been opened. Today’s price: $19.95. So much for our great investment in baseball cards. We both had the biggest grins on our face.
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