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Baseball Cards in the Attic

     It’s a story about finding the unexpected. It’s better than reaching into the winter coat pocket and feeling a $5 dollar bill. Although, that’s pretty good too.

     Karl Kissner saw a soot-covered cardboard box that had been under a wooden dollhouse, in his grandfather’s attic.  When he looked inside the box, he saw baseball cards with names that were familiar: Hall of Famers Ty Cobb, Cy Young and Honus Wagner. The cards were smaller than the cards he was used to seeing.

     After seeing the box and its contents, he put them down and began going through other boxes in the attic. Later, he took the box to a card authenticator. He was soon thankful that his grandfather, who had died in the 1940’s, had not thrown them away.

     It turns out that these cards are some of the finest examples  from a set known as the E98 series. Based on the initial evaluation, the cards should bring somewhere between $2 and $3 million at auction.  You can click for the full story of the cards above.  A treasure in the attic!     

     When I saw this story, it reminded me of a call that I received a few years back. A collector told me that it had rained through the roof and destroyed all his cards. The cards were insured, but the insurance company was only offering him $18,000 and he thought they were worth a whole lot more.

     Normally, I would not take a case that did not involve an injury. But, I sometimes do take insurance claims and I was also interested in this subject matter. I have a small collection of cards too.

     I traveled down to look at the cards that were now wrinkled and wet from the rain leak. There were several boxes of cards stacked all over a room. Some had dried but they were clearly damaged.

     Initially, I had to file suit. Then, the insurance company agreed to arbitrate the loss. Strategically, I decided to hire an expert and present a case to an arbitrator instead of a jury.

     The defense lawyer and the insurance adjuster put little value or defense, in the client’s cardboard collection. They never did offer more than $18,000. They did base that on some thought process but I can’t remember why.

     My expert put the value of the cards at around $120,000. He also was someone known in the sports collecting field because he regularly wrote a column for a Sports Card Company publication.

     I suspect that you have already guessed that I was pleased with the outcome. Yes… I was! The arbitrator came back with a verdict of $98,000 for the cards.

     My client was disappointed in his card loss but pleased in the result. The insurance company said that they would agree to make payment on the verdict. Then, they wanted the cards as well. Finally, they agreed that they really didn’t want “all those moldy cards”. 

     I found a few that still could be recognized. My client threw almost all of them out but he gave me a couple as a souvenir of our case. It wasn’t a treasure from the attic, but I guess it was “”pennies from heaven” in the form of rain. 

     Pic o’ day is one of those that keeps making me smile. Imagine if you saw this on the neighbor’s porch:


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