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Metropolitan Museum Set to Exhibit Portion of Famed Baseball Card Collection

Includes 400 cards from New York team players between 1887-1977

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(Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)
(Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is set to display its latest portion of Jefferson R. Burdick’s massive trading card collection (300,000-plus), bequeathed to the museum between 1943-63. It’s viewed as the largest and most comprehensive collection of its kind in the world, and is filled with priceless and rare items. The exhibit, entitled “The Old Ball Game: New York Baseball, 1887-1977,” will feature 400 baseball cards of players from New York baseball clubs new and old, including the Brooklyn Bridegrooms, Brooklyn Nationals, New York Giants, Brooklyn Dodgers (pictured above on a 1913 tobacco card), New York Yankees, and New York Mets. The exhibit kicks off on June 10th and runs through October 20th. Preview some of the cards below, their New York connection, and estimated values. For more information on the exhibit, click here.

William “Buck” Ewing (Troy Trojans, New York Gothams, New York Giants) – 1887 Old Judge Cabinet and 1889 Allen & Ginter: Known as the best catcher of his era, Ewing entered the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939. Below, are two examples of Ewing tobacco cards: an 1887 Old Judge Cabinet card, a version of which sold at auction for $17,625 in 2011; and an 1889 Allen & Ginter, which has sold for as high as $8,640 at auction.

Buck Ewing
(Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)
(Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)
(Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

“Wee” Willie Keeler (Brooklyn Superbas, New York Highlanders, New York Giants) – 1909-11 T206 White Border (With Bat): “Wee” Willie Keeler was a lifetime .341 hitter and was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939. Maybe the most famous card from the 1909-11 T206 set is the Honus Wagner (valued at about $4 million), but Keeler’s has realized a respectable $22,000 at auction.

(Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)
(Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

New York Nationals (Giants) – 1913 Fatima Cigarettes Team Card – A precursor to the Giants, who are now located in San Francisco, the team pictured here is full of baseball Hall of Famers, including pitchers Rube Marquard and Christy Mathewson (see below); and manager John McGraw. Also pictured is one of the first multi-sport athletes, Jim Thorpe, who besides baseball, played professional basketball and football and won two Olympic gold medals in 1912. In better condition, the card has been valued as high as $7,500.

(Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)
(Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Christopher “Christy” Mathewson (New York Giants) – 1911 T205 Gold Border: Mathewson is the only pitcher in baseball history to rank in the Top 10 in both ERA (2.13) and wins (373), and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1936. The 1911 Gold Border set is a favorite among collectors—but is difficult to find in condition. Mathewson’s card, if mint enough, has fetched as high as $100,000 at auction.

(Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)
(Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)