A few weeks ago, I read an article about an anonymous family who found something precious when they were cleaning out their deceased grandfather’s home. They found a brown paper bag on the floor in one of the rooms. It was pretty old looking and crumpled a bit, and they very nearly just threw it into the trash. But then one of them looked inside the bag and found a handful of baseball cards.
It turns out that the cards were from the early 1900s and were rare cards of Ty Cobb. An authenticator confirmed that they were T206 series cards from 1909-1911. They are not only legitimate, but also worth over one million dollars!
This story made me reflect on the many incredible things we found when four of us spent a summer sorting through my mother-in-law’s belongings. Mom was the last of our parents to pass away, and among the normal assortment of furniture, dishes, clothing and knick-knacks, she also left boxes and boxes of papers, photographs, letters, and postcards.
We were delighted to find correspondence from two uncles who served in the military during World War II. Their letters demonstrated a deep commitment to our country and revealed their unending love of family and friends. One of the uncles retuned safely from the war in Europe, married, and had three children. The other uncle was killed in Italy just weeks before D-Day. The letters are so dear to all of us, but not worth a million dollars to anyone else, I’m sure.
One of Matt’s great-aunts kept every postcard she had ever received. Postcards were a popular source of correspondence in the first half of the twentieth century. Folks used post cards not only when they traveled, but also for holidays, birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, and just to say hello.
One very special postcard we found was of a photograph of the cannon-monument on Put-In-Bay. My husband’s mother and sister spent a week there at camp, according to the postcard. It was priceless for us, as Put-In-Bay is one of our favorite places to go in the summer. We’ve been there at least ten times and talked about it often with Mom. Interestingly, she never mentioned having been there. Either she forgot, or she just didn’t want us to think she had been there first. Although this memento means a great deal to us, it’s clearly not worth a million dollars.
In one of the boxes we found a small change purse with a number of old coins in it. We believe the coins belonged to Matt’s grandfather and their apparent value was about $4.84. We had the coins appraised by an expert and the real value – about $4.84. Turns out, the incredible finds in our old stuff is only incredible to us.
But you never know. It might be worth your time to investigate those boxes in your attic or basement. You might find some amazing baseball cards, too. Or you just might find priceless family mementoes — either way, it’s worth the time.
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Sue is a retired public servant who volunteers at a local elementary school and Hospice and keeps busy taking care of house, husband, son, and pets. She lives just outside of Troy, Ohio.