By Bert Lehman
It was a phone call that every auction house hopes to receive.
While on the phone with another client, Brian Drent, owner of Mile High Card Co., was interrupted by one of his employees who told him he had to take the call on the other line. Since the call he was on was important, Drent hesitated.
Then the employee handed Drent a sheet of paper that contained a listing of unopened wax boxes for different trading card products from the 1950s and 1960s. At the top of the list was 1948 Bowman Baseball.
Drent said he immediately told the person he was on the phone with that he would call him back and explain everything later. He then took the call on the other line. On the other line was a person who does some consigning with Mile High Card Co., as well as the person who owned the plethora of unopened vintage trading card products that was on the list.
In addition to the 1948 Bowman unopened packs, other items included: 1961 Fleer Basketball full unopened wax box, 1961 Topps Football 5 Cent pack full unopened wax box, 1962 Topps Football nearly full unopened wax box (20/24) packs and 1962 Fleer Football nearly full unopened wax box (19/24) packs, along with several other full and near full wax boxes, each authenticated by BBCE with grades ranging from NM to MINT; 1959 Fleer Ted Williams full unopened wax box, 1960 Fleer Baseball Greats nearly full unopened wax box (20/24) packs, 1961 Fleer Football full unopened wax box, 1961 Fleer Baseball Greats nearly full unopened wax box (20/24) packs, 1961 Nu-Card Scoops near full unopened wax box, 1961 Topps Baseball Stamps Album full unopened box, and 1961 Nu-Card Football near full (17/24) wax box.
Drent was told the cards were originally purchased by a family who owned a company that printed non-sports cards. Drent theorized that the company was thinking about printing sports cards, and the boxes of cards were purchased for research and development reasons. The cards were forgotten about until they were found at the caller’s aunt’s house.
After obtaining a complete list of the unopened product that the person on the phone had, as well as the history of it, Drent told the caller he was interested, and asked the caller what he wanted to do.
“He said, ‘Well, if I was you, I’d get on a plane and come here,’” Drent said.
Drent was on a plane to Tennessee the next day to personally look at the unopened product.
“I walked in the house and he had it all arranged on white towels on his dining room table,” Drent said. “I walked in and I was awestruck.”
Drent said that 20 of the 24 packs were in the 1948 Bowman box, but the seal had broken on one of the packs, which turned out to be a good thing. The packs and box contained the words “Play Ball,” but had nothing on them that identified the product as 1948 Bowman. Being able to see the cards in the pack that the seal was broken helped identify the product.
“There are no known examples (of unopened 1948 Bowman Baseball packs),” Drent said. “There’s never been a pack graded by PSA. There wasn’t a pack graded at the time when GAI was grading unopened.”
Drent added he hasn’t been contacted by anyone disputing his claim that there are no other unopened 1948 Bowman Baseball card packs in existence.
Back to the pack with the broken seal, Drent said that pack contained five cards – a Warren Spahn rookie card, two Phil Rizzuto rookie cards, and two Walker Cooper cards.
With only 48 cards in the set, Drent said he thinks every pack could potentially be like that.
“No matter how you look at it, there are only 48 cards in the set, your odds are amazing,” Drent said. “You have six Hall of Fame rookie cards in one set.”
The starting bid was $50,000 for the 1948 Bowman Baseball nearly full unopened wax box (19/24), but bidding took it to more than $120,000 within an hour of the auction opening, Drent said.
The rest of the Mile High auction is loaded with a an array of elite level sports cards, including the breakup of the #12 PSA Set Registry ranked 1952 Topps set, which includes a 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle PSA 4.5 VG/EX+, and the #1 ranked 1956 Topps Super Set with all of the gray and white back variations. Both collections are being offered in individual lots as well as a complete collection.
Mantle fans will marvel at a trio of cards for sale; 1951 Bowman #253 Mickey Mantle SGC 84 NM 7, 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle PSA 6 EX/MT, and a 1951 Wheaties #G Mickey Mantle Premium Photo PSA 10 GEM MINT, a rookie year Mantle issue that is the one and only PSA 10 on record.
Other notable cards include: 1948-49 Leaf #98 Hal Newhouser SGC 86 NM+ 7.5, 1952 Topps #33 Warren Spahn Black PSA 9 MINT, 1952 Topps #312 Jackie Robinson PSA 8.5 NM/MT+, 1953 Topps #82 Mickey Mantle PSA 7 NM, 1955 Topps #123 Sandy Koufax PSA 8 NM/MT, 1968 Topps #177 Nolan Ryan PSA 9 MINT, 1957 Topps 377 Bill Russell PSA 8 NM/MT, 1961 Fleer #3 Elgin Baylor PSA 9 MINT, 1961 Fleer #36 Oscar Robertson PSA 9 MINT, and 1957 Topps #138 John Unitas SGC 88 NM/MT 8.
A Jackie Robinson single-signed ONL (Giles) baseball and a Jimmie Foxx single signed AOL (Cronin) baseball head up an extensive list of team and single-signed autographed baseballs, with dozens of complete baseball sets that span from 1939 Play Ball through the 1950s and 1960s.
Bidding concludes June 15.
To see all the auction items, visit www.milehighcardco.com.