A Band-Aid Box Treasure: Rediscovered 1921 Herpolsheimer Baseball Cards Set for Auction
In a twist that sounds more like the plot of a collector's fable than reality, a Band-Aid box has yielded an extraordinary find—a cache of 1921 Herpolsheimer baseball cards, one of the hobby's scarcest sets. This astonishing discovery, comprising 39 cards, breathes new life into the set with nine cards that have never been seen before. These relics of baseball's past are now slated to be featured in Love of the Game Auctions' upcoming sale, igniting excitement in the collecting world.
The 1921 Herpolsheimer cards, until this moment, have been represented by a mere 105 authenticated and graded examples across the PSA and SGC population reports. This sudden emergence from obscurity, as explained by Al Crisafulli, the auction director at Love of the Game, has been a matter of fascination for years within the collecting community.
The journey of these cards from obscurity to the limelight began at a Grand Rapids, Michigan estate sale in 2019. It was there, within the confines of a commonplace Band-Aid box, that this stack of cards was found. Their significance was not lost on Crisafulli, who, after four years of persistent contact with the owner, secured the cards for consignment. Now, after careful grading by PSA, each card is poised to be offered up individually to the highest bidder.
Among this newfound collection is a card of Babe Ruth, the Sultan of Swat, that stands as only the second known copy of its kind. With Babe Ruth's enduring legacy, this card is anticipated to be a centerpiece of the auction, drawing significant attention and a potentially hefty sum.
The cache doesn't just boast a Ruth card but also features other titans of the diamond. Hall of Famers such as Tris Speaker, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Rabbit Maranville, John McGraw, Red Faber, and Sam Rice find their names etched into this newfound history. Adding to the intrigue, Crisafulli reveals that the lot includes cards of Dave Bancroft, Johnny Evers, Harry Hooper, Stuffy McInnis, Art Nehf, Wally Schang, George Sisler, Casey Stengel, and Fred Toney—names not previously catalogued and thus shining a light on the potential expansiveness of the original set.
The Herpolsheimer cards have long been enveloped in mystery, with their distribution and purpose shrouded in the mists of time. These cards, initially believed to be prototypes or a very limited promotional run, have now, with the discovery of this new batch, hinted at a broader circulation than previously thought. This revelation reshapes the narrative of the set's history, suggesting it was more than just a limited edition run for a select group of patrons.
The connection to the Herpolsheimer Company, a once-prominent retail store in Grand Rapids, is made explicit on the card backs, which advertise the store's Boy's Fashion Shop. While the specifics of how these cards were initially distributed remain unknown, their survival over a century later is a testament to the enduring appeal of the game and its players.
As Love of the Game Auctions prepares to present this significant find to the public, collectors and enthusiasts alike await the opportunity to own a piece of this newly expanded chapter of baseball card history. The Band-Aid box, an unexpected vessel for such treasures, serves as a stark reminder that the stories of sports memorabilia can often be as humble as they are grand.
The upcoming auction not only offers a chance to acquire these rare items but also invites us to ponder the countless other treasures that may still lie hidden in the most ordinary of places, waiting to be rediscovered and celebrated once again. With the unveiling of these Herpolsheimer cards, the auction house is set to offer a glimpse into the early 20th-century baseball era, providing a direct link to the game's storied past and the legends who played it.