January 11, 2013

Baseball card discovery from Washington County is a hit 'round the world

By Gillian Graham ggraham@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD

click image to enlarge

This 1865 card of the Brooklyn Atlantics was found by a picker in Baileyville and will be auctioned off at the Saco River Auction Company on February 6. There are only two of the cards known to exist and the other is in the Library of Congress.

Staff Photographer

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- The upcoming auction of a rare baseball card found in a small Maine town is generating international attention.

Since the Saco River Auction Co. announced earlier this week that it will auction an 1865 Brooklyn Atlantics baseball card on Feb. 6, the story has been picked up by newspapers and television stations across the country, as well as news outlets in Canada, Cuba, Hungary and Asia.

The card's discovery in rural Washington County has been reported by the Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and the International Business Times.

The attention doesn't surprise auction house manager Troy Thibodeau, who was scheduled to do an interview with a radio station in Halifax, New Brunswick, Thursday night.

"It's certainly a killer story," he said. "People want to buy into this and want to be part of it. They want to dream. They want to speculate."

Thibodeau believes the card, one of two known to exist, could fetch six figures. The other card is in the Library of Congress.

The baseball card was found in a moldy photo album in a woodshed in Baileyville by an antiques picker who stopped at a yard sale in search of furniture. The card is a carte de visite, a type of small photograph usually made of thin albumen print and mounted on a thicker piece of paper.

The card dates to when baseball was in its infancy, before baseball cards gained popularity in the 1880s. The Atlantics dominated early baseball by winning championships in 1861, 1864 and 1865.

Floyd Hartford, owner and auctioneer at Saco River Auction, had the 150-year-old card authenticated by Paul Messier, a Boston-based conservator of photos.

Last summer, Hartford auctioned a rare 1888 Michael "King" Kelly cabinet card for $72,100, setting a state record for the sale of a baseball card. That card was found by an antiques picker in Kennebunk.

Thibodeau said news of the baseball card has translated into more inquiries from people interested in selling their own items.

"I've had calls from all over the country from people who have good stuff and want to cash in, like our customer in Washington County," he said. "I thought only people in New England would really hear about this story. I'm certainly shocked and pleased with the attention."

The Brooklyn Atlantics card is slated for auction at 5 p.m. Feb. 6 at Saco River Auction Co. in the North Dam Mill in Biddeford.

 


Staff Writer Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:
ggraham@mainetoday.com
Twitter: grahamgillian

 

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