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Game On! Rare 1865 Baseball Card Sold For $80,000

The Library of Congress' version of the rare Brooklyn Atlantics baseball card.
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress' version of the rare Brooklyn Atlantics baseball card.

Update at 8:06 p.m. ET. Card Sells For $80,000

The nearly 150-year-old Brooklyn Atlantics baseball card that was was discovered late last year in a photo album bought at a yard sale has sold for $80,000 — $92,000 if you count the auction house's buyer's premium.

The buyer, the Portland Press Herald reports, was Jason LeBlanc of Newburyport, Mass. He told the paper he bought it as an investment for his 4-year-old son who has medical issues.

"It's such a small card for $80,000," he said after the sale. "It's unbelievable. Just holding it, my hands are trembling a little bit."

Here's more from the paper:

"LeBlanc said he bought the card as an investment for his 4-year-old son, Alex, who has health challenges that require stays in the hospital and many trips to doctors and therapists. Alex's mom died when he was born."

The card will go into a safe deposit box until LeBlanc decides to sell it.

Our original post:

Yard sale purchases can be hit or miss, but a Maine antiques picker's cheap booty may net him up to $100,000 at auction on Wednesday.

The New York Post reports that a 148-year-old Brooklyn Atlantics baseball card was discovered late last year in a photo album purchased among other things at a yard sale. Initially the card was thought to be one of two in existence since the Library of Congress has one in its collection. It turns out, though, that the two cards are similar but not quite the same. They were printed from different negatives.

Troy Thibodeau, manager of the Saco River Auction Co. that's handling the sale, told the Portland Press Heraldthat "the images on the two cards could be viewed together through a stereoscopic viewer, which created the illusion of three-dimensional depth from two-dimensional images."

The Brooklyn Atlantics was an amateur team that won the National Association of Base Ball Players championship in 1861, 1864 and 1865. The team "usually crushed their competition, scoring two or three times more runs than their opponents," according to the Library of Congress.

The baseball card Hartford found differs from today's baseball cards because it's an original portrait of the team — nine players and their manager — mounted on a card, rather than the shot of just one player most people are familiar with these days. (This portrait on a card thing was de rigueur during the Civil War era, as we learned last year).

Some may recall that a collection of baseball cards found in an Ohio attic last year sold for $565,332 at auction. The 37 cards featured players such as Ty Cobb, Cy Young and Connie Mack.

So, lesson for today? Check those attics and be careful what you set out at a yard sale!

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: February 10, 2013 at 11:00 PM CST
An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Floyd Hartford as the person who found the baseball card. The person who found the card has not been named.
Tanya Ballard Brown is an editor for NPR. She joined the organization in 2008.