A box of unopened 1948 baseball cards found in an attic sold for $514,000

Big League Stew

A box of rare Bowman baseball cards from 1948 just sold for $514,746 at auction, months after they were discovered unopened in a Tennessee attic.

It was a find that startled the baseball-card collecting world, the type of find that people dream about: A man discovered the cards in his aunt’s attic shortly after his uncle died. There were old football, baseball and basketball cards from the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, all unopened.

The jewel of the find was the 1948 Bowmans. There were 19 unopened packs of these highly coveted cards. That year’s cards are so valuable that just a used wrapper from a pack was for sale on eBay for $3,999.99. Finding them unopened was like a miracle. The unopened packs fetched $27,091 each, when you break it down. The buyer wasn’t revealed.

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Those Bowmans were the first mainstream set to launch after World War II shut down the production of sports cards. It features rookie cards from Stan Musial, Yogi Berra, Ralph Kiner, Phil Rizzuto, Warren Spahn and Red Schoendienst.

The unopened 1948 Bowman baseball cards found recently by a Tennessee man. (Mile High Card Co.)
The unopened 1948 Bowman baseball cards found recently by a Tennessee man. (Mile High Card Co.)

Upon finding the cards, the Tennessee man — who hasn’t been identified publicly — turned them over to Mile High Card Company to sell. The cards were dubbed “The Beer Box Find” because they were stashed away in an old Stroh’s beer box.

Some of the other boxes in “The Beer Box Find” sold for big bank too — like an unopened box of 1961 Fleet basketball cards that sold for $108,039 and a box of 1961 Topps football cards that sold for $119,977. All told, the cards in “The Beer Box” discovery sold more than $900,000.

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The great question here — with the Bowman and all the other cards — is what would you do with them? Would you open them? Would you leave them sealed?

A mint version of the Rizzuto rookie card sold recently for $4,100 on its own. There was one open pack in the box when it was discovered that had two Rizzutos and a Spahn rookie. The Spahn rookie could sell for $12,500 if its mint. Cards from Berra ($22K) and Musial ($32,500) would also be worth a lot if mint, according to PSA. There are 48 cards in the set — 44 of which are rookie cards. And five cards in each of the 19 packs.

If you open the packs and sell the individual cards, that could total more than $514,000 auction price. But if keep the unopened packs on ice for another decade, that could even add to the intrigue — and the value — of selling the box again.

It’s a lot to a ponder. What would you do?

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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