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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (10/2012) Headlines (08/2012) Headlines (12/2012)   Vol. 46 October 2012 
Treasure In The Headlines
As seen in the October 2012 edition of W&ET Magazine

RARE BASEBALL CARDS FOUND IN OHIO ATTIC COULD BE WORTH MILLIONS

Karl Kissner picked up a soot-covered cardboard box that had been under a wooden dollhouse in his grandfather's attic. Taking a look inside, he saw hundreds of baseball cards bundled with twine. They were smaller than the ones he was used to seeing.

But some of the names were familiar: Hall of Famers Ty Cobb, Cy Young and Honus Wagner. Then he put the box on a dresser and went back to digging through the attic.

It wasn't until two weeks later that he learned that his family had come across what experts say is one of the biggest, most exciting finds in the history of sports card collecting, a discovery worth perhaps millions.

The cards are from an extremely rare series issued around 1910. Up to now, the few known to exist were in so-so condition at best, with faded images and worn edges. But the ones from the attic in the town of Defiance are nearly pristine, untouched for more than a century. The colors are vibrant, the borders crisp and white.

“It's like finding the Mona Lisa in the attic,” Kissner said.

Sports card experts who authenticated the find say they may never again see something this impressive.

“Every future find will ultimately be compared to this,” said Joe Orlando, president of Professional Sports Authenticator.

The best of the bunch— 37 cards— are expected to bring a total of $500,000 when they are sold at auction during the National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore. There are about 700 cards in all that could be worth up to $3 million, experts say. They include such legends as Christy Mathewson and Connie Mack.

Kissner and his family say the cards belonged to their grandfather, Carl Hench, who died in the 1940s. Hench ran a meat market in Defiance, and the family suspects he got them as a promotional item from a candy company that distributed them with caramels. They think he gave some away and kept others.

“We guess he stuck them in the attic and forgot about them,” Kissner said. “They remained there frozen in time.”

After Hench and his wife died, two of his daughters lived in the house. Jean Hench kept the house until she died last October, leaving everything inside to her 20 nieces and nephews. Kissner, 51, is the youngest and was put in charge of the estate. His aunt was a pack rat, and the house was filled with three generations of stuff.

They found calendars from the meat market, turn-of-the-century dresses, a steamer trunk from Germany and a dresser with Grandma's clothes neatly folded in the drawers.

Months went by before they even got to the attic. In February, Kissner's cousin Karla Hench pulled out the dirty green box with metal clips at the corners and lifted the lid.

Not knowing whether the cards were valuable, the two cousins put the box aside. But Kissner decided to do a little research. The cards were at his office in the restaurant he owns when he realized they might have something. He immediately took them across the street and put them in a bank vault.

Still not knowing whether the cards were real, they sent eight to expert Peter Calderon at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, which recently sold the baseball that rolled through the legs of Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner in the 1986 World Series for $418,000.

“I was in complete awe,” Calderon said. “You just don't see them this nice.”

The cards are from what is known as the E98 series. It is not clear who manufactured them or how many were produced, but the series consists of 30 players, half of them Hall of Famers.

The experts at Heritage Auctions checked out the family's background, the age of the home and the history of the meat market. They looked at the cards and how they were printed.

“Everything lines up,” said Chris Ivy, the company's director of sports auctions.

They then sent all the cards to a Professional Sports Authenticator, which had previously authenticated fewer than 700 E98s. The Ohio cards were the finest examples from the E98 series the company had ever seen.

The company grades cards on a 1-to-10 scale based on their condition. Up to now, the highest grade it had ever given a Ty Cobb card from the E98 series was a 7. Sixteen Cobbs found in the Ohio attic were graded a 9— almost perfect. A Honus Wagner was judged a 10, a first for the series.

Retired sports card auctioneer Barry Sloate of New York City said: “This is probably the most interesting find I've heard of.”

The highest price ever paid for a baseball card is $2.8 million, handed over in 2007 for a 1909 Honus Wagner that was produced by the American Tobacco Co. and included in packs of cigarettes. Another similar Wagner card brought $1.2 million in April. (Wagner's tobacco cards were pulled from circulation, either because the ballplayer didn't want to encourage smoking among children or because he wanted more money.)

Heritage Auctions plans to sell most of the Ohio cards over the next two or three years through auctions and private sales so that it doesn't flood the market. In all, they could bring $2 million or $3 million, Ivy said.

The Hench family is evenly dividing the cards and the money among the 20 cousins named in their aunt's will. All but a few have decided to sell their share.

“These cards need to be with those people who appreciate and enjoy them,” Kissner said.

From the Indian River Press Journal, submitted by Bill Elave, Sebastian, FL, Marty Maher, Langlois, OR, Doug Amundson, Cambridge, Minnesota.



GOLD COINS FROM TIME OF CRUSADES FOUND IN ISRAELI RUINS

Israeli archaeologists have found buried treasure: more than 100 gold dinal coins from the time of the Crusades, bearing the names and legends of local sultans, blessings and more— and worth as much as $500,000.

The joint team from Tel Aviv University and Israel's Nature and Parks Authority were working at Apollonia National Park, an ancient Roman fortress on the coast used by the Crusaders between 1241 and 1265, when they literally found a pot of gold.

“All in all, we found some 108 dinals and quarter dinals, which makes it one of the largest gold coin hauls discovered in a medieval site in the land of Israel,” Prof. Oren Tal, chairman of Tel Aviv University's Department of Archaeology, told FN.

The Christian order of the Knights Hospitaller had taken up residence in the castle in Apollonia; it was one of their most important fortresses in the area. The hoard of coins was buried on the eve of the site's downfall after a long siege by a large and well-prepared Muslim army.

Since its destruction in late April 1265 it was never resettled. As the destruction of the well-fortified castle grew near, one of the Crusader's leaders sought to hide his stash in a potsherd, possibly to retrieve it later on.

'[It's] one of the largest gold coin hauls discovered in a medieval site in the land of Israel.'— Oren Tal, chairman of Tel Aviv University's Department of Archaeology

“It was in a small juglet, and it was partly broken. The idea was to put something broken in the ground and fill it with sand, in order to hide the gold coins within,” Tal told FN. “If by chance somebody were to find the juglet, he won't excavate it, he won't look inside it to find the gold coins.”

“Once we started to sift it, the gold came out.”

The hoard of coins themselves— found in June, by Mati Johananoff, a student of TAU Department of Archaeology— date to the times of the Fatimid empire, which dominated northern Africa and parts of the Middle East at the time. Tal estimates their date to the 10th or 11th century, although they were circulated in the 13th century.

“They were minted some 240 to 300 years before they were used by the Fatimid knights,” he explained. The coins are covered in icons and inscriptions: the names and legends of local sultans, Tal said, as well as blessings.

Some also bear a date, and even a mint mark, a code that indicates where it was minted, whether Alexandria, Tripoli, or another ancient mint.

“Fatimid coins are very difficult to study because they are so informative,” Tal told FN. “The legends are very long, the letters are sometimes difficult to decipher.”

The coins are clearly of great value, both historically and intrinsically, though putting a price tag on them is no easy feat: Value is a flexible thing, Tal explained. Israeli newspaper Haaretz pegged the find at $100,000. Tal noted that antique Dinals sell for $3,000 to $5,000 apiece, meaning the stash could be worth closer to half a million.

Once his team has finished deciphering the coins and decoding their inscriptions, they will be transferred to a museum. But with such a valuable find, there's already a quarrel between two archaeologically oriented museums over which will host them.

Tal said the Israel Museum in Jerusalem is in the running, as is the Eretz (or Land of Israel) Museum in Tel Aviv.

“Both want the coins on display. It's not for us to decide,” Tal said.

From FN, submitted by Marty Maher, Langlois, OR, and many others.



WOMAN FINDS $1,800 IN ATM SLOT, CALLS POLICE

A woman called Boynton Beach police when she found $1,800 in cash sticking out of a deposit slot at a Chase bank ATM.

Boynton Beach police say 46-year-old Adriana Allen saw the stack of $100 bills when she drove up to the ATM recently.

She told police she tried to push the cash into the deposit slot, but the ATM wouldn't accept it.

So, she took the cash and called police.

The responding officer counted and took possession of the cash.

Allen says there were no vehicles ahead of her when she pulled up to the ATM.

Police are holding the cash until bank officials locate the account holder.

On the Police Department's Facebook page, officers thanked Allen for “her honesty and compassion, and for doing the right thing.”

From The Daytona Beach News-Journal, submitted by Zoueva Grossmann, Palm Coast, FL.



DECADES-OLD MILITARY PLANE WRECKAGE FOUND IN ALASKA GLACIER, MAY GIVE FAMILIES C

The wreckage of a military plane found recently on an Alaska glacier is that of an Air Force plane that crashed in 1952, killing all 52 people aboard, military officials said.

Army Capt. Jamie Dobson said evidence found at the crash site correlates with the missing C-124A Globemaster, but the military is not eliminating other possibilities because much investigation still needs to be done.

Processing DNA samples from relatives of those on board the plane could take up to six years, Dobson said.

“We're still at the very beginning of this investigation,” she said. “This is very close to the starting line, not the finish line.”

The Alaska National Guard discovered the wreckage and possibly bones on Colony Glacier, about 40 miles east of Anchorage.

The wreckage was spotted soon after the heavy transport plane vanished Nov. 22, 1952, with 41 passengers and 11 crew members, but it became buried in snow and likely churned beneath the surface of the glacier for decades, Dobson said.

“The ice gives up what it wants to give up when it wants to give it up,” she said. “It's really in control.”

The plane went down on a flight from McChord Air Force Base in Washington state.

An Associated Press report on Nov. 24, 1952, said the Globemaster was the third big Air Force transport plane to crash or vanish in Alaska that month and the sixth around the Pacific Rim.

Soon after the crash, a 12-member military team tried three times to make it to the site, but was thwarted by bad weather, said Tonja Anderson, whose grandfather Isaac Anderson was among those on board the doomed flight. The 41-year-old Tampa, FL, woman has researched the crash for 12 years since her grandmother, now deceased, gave her details of the airman who died at age 21, leaving behind a young window and 1-1/2-year-old son.

“I'm overwhelmed,” Anderson said about the positive identification. It's something she has tried to long get from the military, she said, only to be told that recovering the remains from the plane's hidden grave was unfeasible and would be too expensive.

“If they can bring me one bone of my grandfather or his dog tag, that would be closure for me,” she said.

Days after the Globemaster went down, a member of the Fairbanks Civil Air Patrol, along with a member of the 10th Air Rescue Squadron, landed at a glacier in the area and positively identified the wreckage as the Globemaster.

According to an AP account, the civil air patrol member was Terris Moore, who was president of the University of Alaska. After returning from the site, he told reporters that the plane “obviously was flying at full speed” when it hit Mount Gannett, sliding down the snow-covered cliffs, exploding and disintegrating over two or three acres.

Only the tail and flippers of the craft were intact, but the tail numbers were enough for an identification. Moore said blood was found on a piece of blanket.

The debris was discovered while Alaska National Guardsmen were flying a Blackhawk helicopter during a training mission near the glacier. The guardsmen flew over the area several times.

Federal aviation officials implemented temporary flight restrictions over the area while the military investigation was conducted.

An eight-man Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command arrived, military officials said. It completed its work recently at the glacier.

The team recovered materials like a life-support system from the wreckage and possible bones from the glacier. The evidence was being taken to the command's lab in Hawaii for analysis.

From the AP, submitted by Marty Maher, Langlois, OR.



CHIEF JOSEPH WAR SHIRT FETCHES $877,500 AT AUCTION

A war shirt worn by Chief Joseph of the Nez Pierce tribe has sold for $877,500 at auction in Nevada.

Chief Joseph wore the shirt in 1877 in the earliest known photo of him, and again while posing for a portrait by Cyrenius Hall in 1878. The painting was used on a U.S. postage stamp and now hangs in the Smithsonian Institution.

Mike Overby, an organizer of the annual Coeur d'Alene Art Auction, says the shirt that sold recently is considered to be one of the most important Native American artifacts to ever come to auction.

American Indian scholar Theodore Brasser says its visual appeal and appearance in the photo and portrait of Chief Joseph makes the shirt unique.

From the Napa Valley Register, submitted by Jerry R. Hallett, Napa, CA.




















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