When Karl Kissner’s aunt died in Defiance, Ohio in 2011, she inherited her 100-year-old family home to Karl and his relatives. The exterior of the house was in ruins, and the clutter filled the rooms as if it had never been cleaned in a century. However, the dilapidated house could not prevent Karl and Karl, another family member, from searching it because his aunt left him a message that he would “find things they (did not know) existed.” (Fox TV Business Network, “Strange Inheritance”).
After cleaning most of the interior, the attic was the last area that Karl and Karla had to search. But this attic was different from the rest of the house because it contained most of the old family heirlooms and keys to potential family secrets. It was only when they cleared some objects piled on top of each other to the horns that they discovered a small, dust-covered box lying against the back wall. When they opened it, they discovered over 700 small pictures of about 30 famous baseball players from the beginning of the twentieth century tied with strings. These pictures included such great players as Ty Cobb, Cy Young, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Connie Mack, just to name a few. Among the giant chord, each player had approximately 12 to 16 identical cards. Although Karl believed that none of them were real baseball cards, because none of them resembled modern cards that include player statistics, dates, and the name of the company that produced them. Karl set the collection aside until they were done going through the rest of the attic.
Karl’s aunt, Jeanne Hench was the daughter of Carl Hench who emigrated from Germany and lived the American dream as a successful meat seller and shop owner. He died in the 1940s and left most of his belongings in the attic of the family home, including a mysterious box of strange mint cards. Mr. Hench’s grandson believed he received the cards as promotional items from a candy store.
Later, Karl opened the box and inspected each one. He went online and researched each of the 30 players represented in the collection. The more he asked, the more he imagined the huge dollar signs flying into his bank account. Karl knew that the next logical step was to get all 700 professionally certified. He called Peter Calderon, a baseball card expert in Dallas, Texas, and sent him samples from the collection.
After reviewing each map, Calderon nearly hit the ceiling when he realized that these were extremely rare antique original books in pristine condition. Each was identified as a series of “E98” tickets from 1910. Karl told him there were many more and sent them to Calderon.
Calderon immediately informed Karl that his cards were authentic and extremely valuable. After much rejoicing, Calderon founded them with Heritage Auction to sell a fraction of the tickets instead of the entire plot, as selling 700 of them would flood the market for old baseball card collectors, potentially reducing the value of multimillion-dollar industry baseball cards. Over a period of time, Heritage Auction House sold a partial plot for a total of more than $ 1,800,000. The rest were divided equally among Karl’s twenty cousins, so that they could work as they wished. Needless to say, Karl and each of his cousins could have easily gone to the auction with the rest of the cards, and they will do so exactly, but gradually so as not to harm the baseball card industry.
It is estimated that the rest of the collection will sell for $ 3 million. The collection Karl discovered earned the title “Finding the Black Swamp” to connect the geographical and historical area of northwest Ohio, adding notoriety to a large collection of some of the oldest and rarest collections of baseball cards.