The following is a true story from a collector who recently visited our shop. The names have been changed.
A gentleman we’ll call Jack said he wanted to sell his collection after 70 years of fun and massive accumulation. His wife, Jill, had asked him, “Don’t you think it’s time to allow someone else to enjoy your collection and allow us to use our garage for an auto?”
I asked Jack, “How did this collection start?”
Simply put, it started with a Wheaties cereal box – where national athletes experience the ultimate reward in being featured.
Jack enjoyed Wheaties as a young boy. On the back of each box was a panel with a photo of a great baseball player, such as DiMaggio, Gehrig, Grove and more.
Jack carefully cut out these panels and kept them.
It became such fun to search the local A&P for boxes featuring different sports stars. Jack eventually ended up with more than 150 panels from the mid-1930s.
But, guess what? This was just the tip of the iceberg. Jack and Jill’s garage and attic are now filled with all kinds of sports collectibles. It’s no wonder Jill wanted some action. Jack admitted it was time to sell.
Sports came easy to Jack, as he played five years in the St. Louis Cardinals farm system, and then umpired after his stint in pro ball.
As a start to reduce this lot of items, the Wheaties box panels will reward Jack and Jill with several thousands of dollars, considering one Joe DiMaggio should fetch $300 to $400.
The remainder of Jack’s collection will be auctioned off in the spring. He admits the most fun was the search as he collected more and more. Jack recalls that his heart would palpitate in anticipation prior to a show or auction.
This writer must admit that opening each box at Jack’s home made his heart jump a bit too.
By the time you read this column, action will be under way to inventory and evaluate more than 500,000 baseball cards, along with thousands of golf cards and publications from the early 1900s.
That little boy named Jack loved Wheaties and loved collecting his cards. But at the time he had no idea that his cardboard panels would one day be worth thousands.
Wheaties, the Breakfast of Champions, not only rewarded young Jack with athletic muscles, but with cardboard heroes too.
Jerry Glenn is co-owner of Reminisce in Bluffton, where sports collectibles are bought and sold.