Historic Baseball Card Sells for $92K at Auction

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistFebruary 7, 2013

Photo Credit: Reuters
Photo Credit: Reuters

A simple trip to a local yard sale made one Baileyville, Maine, man $92,000 richer on Wednesday.

According to a Reuters report (per Yahoo! News), that was the selling price for the man's 1865 Brooklyn Atlantics baseball card, which is the oldest card known to exist.

The sale was confirmed by Troy Thibodeau, who said the following after overseeing the auction on Wednesday night:

It's more of a piece of photography than a baseball card, but it's considered by many to be the first baseball card just by the fact that it was distributed by the team. It kind of set the stage for baseball cards after that.

In a story that has become all too familiar (but never to me), the Baileyville man was not even looking for a baseball card on that fateful day. He simply purchased an old photo album for less than $100 and happened upon the rare baseball treasure.

According to the Library of Congress, there are only two 1865 Brooklyn Atlantics cards known to exist. One is in the Library of Congress, the other sold at auction on Wednesday evening. 

Depicting the 1865 Atlantics, this particular card was noteworthy not just because of its age and rarity, but also due to its variance from your typical baseball card. Instead of an individual, this card has the nine Brooklyn players with its manager. And rather than the traditional, superimposed card, this is actually a still photograph that was attached to card material. 

A long-defunct team, the Atlantics were founded in 1855. Dominant prior to the founding of Major League Baseball or its precursor, the National Association, they went undefeated and were recognized as national champions in 1864, according to their official website.

Though it's currently recognized as a relic in baseball history, the card was actually used to celebrate the Brooklyn-based team's dominance and was even given to opposing fans as a tongue-in-cheek gesture.

Based on the auction results, there's one man in Maine who is likely feeling pretty grateful for the Atlantics' brash ways on Wednesday night.