Karl Kissner's grandfather, Carl Hench, passed away in the 1940s, and his grandfather's house was inherited by his aunt, Jean Hench. She lived in the home for several decades until her death in Oct. 2011.
Hench has been described as a "pack rat" and had saved generations of family possessions going back over a century.
The Toledo Blade
reported Hench's family found gas lamps, old calendars, steamer trunks, antique board games and a "sooty" cardboard box full of old baseball cards wrapped in twine, reported the Associated Press
. The box was sitting beneath an old wooden doll house and covered by a ton of dust.
The 700 cards are over a century old. Kissner found a rare 30-player set, reported to have been distributed in 1910. The Toledo Blade reported only 635 of the 700 cards "were known to exist" and the known baseball cards from this era were worn. The set Kissner's family found is described as being in mint condition.
Carl Hench ran a meat market in Defiance, Ohio where he reportedly often received promotional cards with candy and/or other items. Over time he collected nearly 700 cards, which are not the standard size as modern baseball cards, but smaller in size. The box of cards Kissner found contained cards that dated back to 1910 and showed names such as Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Cy Young, and Connie Mack.
Kissner did some research and knew he had found something special; he sent a handful of the cards to be inspected. It turns out the best of the cards may sell more than a half a million dollars, and the whole collection is estimated as possibly being worth $3 million.
"We had never seen examples that looked this nice before," Chris Ivy, the director of sports auctions for Heritage Auctions, said. Joe Orlando, president of Professional Sports Authenticator, told Toledo Blade the $3 million estimate is conservative. Orlando "graded" many of the individual cards, citing that these cards were given the highest grades ever.
"We're in the business of hearing lots of stories about people claiming to have this or claiming to have that," Orlando said. "So we're a little bit skeptical. But when the cards arrived, they were just absolutely spectacular. ... This could be considered the greatest single find of cards ever."
The rare baseball cards are being reported as coming from the E98 series. eBay
currently has several listings from this series which are priced in the range of hundreds to thousands of dollars per card.
"Amazing. It's just a blessing," said the 51-year-old Kissner, who owns Kissner's Restaurant in town, reported the Toledo Blade. "My grandfather stuck it in the attic a hundred years ago and here it is now, a blessing to his grandchildren."
The cards were divided amongst Jean Hench's 20 nieces and nephews, and its being reported most of the family members plan to sell their shares.
"It's like finding the Mona Lisa in the attic," Kissner told the Associated Press.
Goes to show, you never know what treasures might be hiding in your attic.