Family cleaning great-grandfather’s house finds crumpled paper bag. But what’s inside—worth millions

They almost threw it away
March 20, 2018 10:25 am Last Updated: March 20, 2018 10:25 am

One of the hardest things about losing a loved one is the painful task of going through their belongings. Sorting through the entirety of someone’s personal items is obviously rife with reminders of who they were.

But for those whose family members lived long, happy lives, the pain may be somewhat offset by the idea that they’re in a better place.

While cleaning out their late great-grandfather’s house, the contents of a brown paper bag unexpectedly put one southern U.S. family in a better place financially.

In 2016, a family found seven valuable Ty Cobb baseball cards printed between 1909 and 1911.


Ty Cobb was one of baseball’s biggest stars at a time when its popularity was on the cusp of booming. Only 15 other original Ty Cobb baseball cards from the series were known to be in existence. In an old, crumpled brown bag, the family found seven of them all at once.

Unaware of their value, the family, which wished to remain anonymous, almost threw the cards away. But after some research, they realized they could be worth some money, and sent them away to be authenticated.

A legend.

Posted by Ty Cobb on Saturday, March 17, 2018

“He wasn’t even a collector,” Joe Orlando, president of Professional Sports Authenticator of Newport Beach, California, told the Associated Press.

“He just held on to these cards that were most likely given to him after buying a particular tobacco product.”

As it turns out, the seven baseball cards they’d nearly put in the trash were their ticket to wealth.

The seven cards were valued at $3 million.

T206 Ty Cobb portrait red back PSA 4

Posted by Baseball Card Exchange on Monday, March 17, 2014

Each of the identical cards is smaller than the traditional size trading card seen today.

At the time, baseball trading cards were more closely associated with tobacco. The cards found by the family were promotional items used by an unknown tobacco company to boost sales.

The cards belong to a series called the T206, in which a number of other valuable baseball cards of the era belong.

The Ty Cobb card that punched the family’s ticket to easy street is a stunning work of art. It features a rich, red background and a creamy textured portrait of the Detroit Tigers Hall of Fame outfielder.

On the back of the card, the words “Ty Cobb: King of the Smoking Tobacco World” serve as a reminder of the card’s origins.

The family took a hiatus from cleaning their great-grandfather’s house after striking it rich.

Two years later, they went back to cleaning the house and made another discovery.

#tbt Legendary Ty Cobb ⚾️ #stealville #baseball #diamondlife #baseballplayer #playdirty #tycobb #mlb #legend #alltime #leader #basestealer

Posted by Stealville on Thursday, May 26, 2016

“The initial discovery, it was a real shock to them,” Orlando said. “They put the cleaning on hold for a while … later they knew what they were looking for, and in a dusty box between two books, there was another one.”

The family found another Ty Cobb baseball card stashed away. While this one wasn’t worth as much as the others they’d found earlier, it was still appraised at $250,000.

The family doesn’t intend to sell their latest find, though, and will keep it as a family heirloom.

With so much money earned from the discovery of a few pieces of paper, the card they are keeping is a homage to the great-grandfather who unknowingly secured their financial futures.