1865 baseball card fetches $92K in US auction

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This undated file photo released Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013 by the Saco River Auction Co., in Biddeford, Maine, shows a rare 1865 baseball card of the Brooklyn Atlantics, discovered in a photo album bought at a yard sale in Baileyville, Maine, on the Canadian border. The auction house expects six-figure bids at its Feb. 6 auction. AP/ Saco River Auction Co.

BIDDEFORD, Maine—A rare 148-year-old baseball card discovered at a rummage sale has been auctioned for $92,000.
Saco River Auction Co. in the far northeastern state of Maine held an auction Wednesday night that included a card depicting the Brooklyn Atlantics amateur baseball club.

Troy Thibodeau, manager and auctioneer at Saco River Auction, said the card drew plenty of interest. Bidding started at $10,000 and quickly rose to the final $92,000, which included an 18-percent premium.

The name of the buyer, who was at the auction house, was not released.
The card isn’t the same as a modern-day baseball card, which became common in the 1880s. Rather, it’s an original photograph from 1865 mounted on a card, showing nine players and a manager.

The Library of Congress said last month it was aware of only two copies of the photo. The other is in the institution’s collection.

In its book “Baseball Americana,” the Library of Congress calls the item the first dated baseball card, handed out to supporters and opposing teams in a gesture of bravado from the brash Brooklynites, who were dominant and won their league championships in 1861, 1864 and 1865.

A Maine man who doesn’t want to be publicly identified found the card inside an old photo album he bought while antique picking in the small town of Baileyville on the Canadian border. The man bought the photo album, old Coca-Cola bottles and a couple of oak chairs together in a single purchase for less than $100, Thibodeau said.

It was impossible to predict what kind of price the card would fetch because of its rarity, he said, but he guessed before the auction that the winning bid would fall somewhere between $50,000 and $500,000. The priciest baseball card ever is a 1909 Honus Wagner card, which sold for $2.8 million in 2007.

“We’re happy with it and the consigner is happy with it,” Thibodeau said.

A large crowd was present for the auction of the card, one of 425 items being sold. The auction house has seating for about 150 people, and can hold an estimated 500 people for standing-room crowds.

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