Cards that mom didn’t throw out

We’ve all heard the one about how mom threw out baseball cards that are now worth a fortune. Grant Zahajko’s June 24 Sports Cards & Memorabilia Auction tells a refreshingly different version of the story through a trove of 1950s and ’60s baseball cards that were left untouched and preserved by one lucky collector’s mom.

“This is a great story,” said Zahajko, who is the Spokane-area company’s owner and auctioneer. “Around 20 years ago the consignor went to help his mom move and, in the process, discovered his boyhood collection of cards produced primarily by Topps from 1953 to 1962. He had always been fastidious about putting them in sleeves and keeping them in a climate-controlled environment. They were in such fantastic condition that when we sent them off for grading, many of them came back a condition nine.”

In all, 500 cards were professionally graded. They will be apportioned into 125 auction lots. The majority were sent to PSA for grading, Zahajko said, but the auction’s opener, a 1955 Topps #164 Roberto Clemente rookie card, was sent to Beckett, where it was graded Excellent/Mint 6.5. Its auction estimate is $2,000-$3,000.

A 1955 Topps #123 rookie card for Brooklyn Dodgers ace pitcher Sandy Koufax is another card that is part of the collection. Graded PSA 5, it is expected to sell for $500-$800.

An unused Shea Stadium ticket from the 1969 World Series pitting the “Miracle” New York Mets against the Baltimore Orioles, graded PSA 6, should garner a winning bid of $700-$1,000.

SGC graded the prized 1909-1911 American Tobacco Co. T206 cards entered in the auction, which came from a different consignor than the main collection.

“What’s great about this auction selection is that it allows collectors of all budgets to buy cards that are in excellent condition across the board. This will be a good opportunity for collectors to fill some slots,” Zahajko said.

The highest-estimated collectible in the auction is the gold medal that was won by John H. “Tex” Gibbons of the U.S. Men’s Basketball Team at the 1936 Olympic Games held in Berlin, Germany. The medal comes directly from Gibbons’ family and is accompanied by a Letter of Authenticity signed by Gibbons’ son and an extensive archive of ephemera documenting the basketball team’s ocean voyage to Germany, their participation in the Games, and the social events, side trips and other activities organized by the Olympic committee while they were in Europe. The pre-sale estimate for the medal is $100,000-$150,000.

All forms of bidding will be available including absentee, phone and live via the Internet through www.gzauctions.com.

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