An Astonishing Discovery: Century-Old Baseball Card Collection Found in Original Tobacco Tin
In an extraordinary find for baseball memorabilia enthusiasts, a time-honored collection of baseball cards has surfaced, offering a tangible link to the sport’s storied past. The discovery, made by a Northern California individual, has propelled a trove of baseball history into the modern collecting hobby.
The journey of this collection began with a simple phone call to Auction Monthly, a Granite Bay-based auction house, in late September. A man reached out with news of an old tin box filled with baseball cards that he wished to sell. The meeting that ensued would unveil a remarkable piece of history.
Nestled within a rusty Pedro Cut Plug Tobacco tin was a carefully preserved assembly of strip, caramel, and tobacco baseball cards, their origins dating back over a century.
The collection once belonged to “Ed,” born in 1909, who spent his childhood in Oakland and passed away in 1994. His steadfast grip on his collection of baseball cards never waned throughout his life. As Ed’s son recounts, his father, like many of his generation who endured the Great Depression, never threw anything away. The tin, likely a gift from an uncle, became a childhood treasure chest, revealed to Ed’s son in his early years and then rediscovered in a closet after his father’s passing in 1994.
Now, nearly three decades since its rediscovery, the collection has made its way into a hobby that, while vastly different from the 1920s, still shares the same spark of fascination.
The tin contained a staggering array of more than 600 cards, all from the year 1926 or earlier. The cards’ condition reflected their age and the love of the young hands that once held them—strip cards, often torn or cut and carried in pockets, showing signs of being cherished possessions. Among the collection, the presence of Babe Ruth was pronounced, with no fewer than 20 cards depicting the legendary “Bambino.”
This collection was rich in highlights, featuring a 1919-21 W514 Shoeless Joe Jackson card, a 1921 E220 National Caramel Ruth card, a 1922 American Caramel E121 Ruth card, cards representing nearly every player from the infamous 1919 Black Sox scandal, several Ruth cards from the W514 series dating 1919-21, three 1920 W519 Ruth cards, a 1922 American Caramel E121 Ty Cobb card, a 1921 W516 Ty Cobb card, and a 1920 W519 George Sisler card.
It was a collection that spanned several pre-War sets, encompassing a varied selection of strip cards from 1919-1923, reflecting Ed’s childhood years, and several 1924-26 Zeenuts cards, a series distributed on the west coast.
The auction company, upon acquiring the collection, was taken aback by the number of Ruth cards—a startling find that underscored the collection’s significance. Promptly, the company set about selecting the finest cards for grading, while others were sold in their original state.
For the baseball card collecting world, this discovery is not merely a transaction or an addition of inventory. It is a poignant reminder of the deep-rooted love for baseball that transcends generations. The collection, once a young boy’s pride, carried through the decades in a tobacco tin, now stands as a symbol of the timeless allure of the game and its heroes.
Each card, worn at the edges, not just by time but by the eager fingers of a young fan, tells a story. The story of a boy who idolized figures like Ruth, Jackson, Cobb, and Sisler, who, through these cards, could hold a piece of his heroes in his hands. It’s a story that resonates with many who collect—not for the monetary value, but for the emotional connection, the nostalgia, and the love of the game.
As the collection enters the public sphere, it’s a reminder of the enduring legacy of baseball’s early legends. The excitement of uncovering such a cache of memorabilia is akin to finding a hidden gem that, once polished, shines light on a bygone era of sports history. For collectors, historians, and baseball aficionados alike, the release of this century-old collection is a momentous event, linking the past’s tangible artifacts with the present’s passion for collecting.
Each card from this remarkable find serves as a bridge across time, connecting the dots of baseball’s evolution. As the auction house processes the collection, each piece will find its way into the hands of those who appreciate not only the rarity but the journey these cards have undergone. From the pocket of a young baseball fan in the early 20th century to a revered position in the collections of modern enthusiasts, these cards carry with them the essence of America’s pastime—a legacy that continues to captivate and inspire.