Oneonta card cache valued at north of $125K

Baseball in the AtticIn this undated photo, Michael Osacky poses with cards from an Oneonta family’s collection.

An Oneonta family’s trading card collection has been valued upwards of $125,000 by a Chicago-based sports memorabilia appraiser.

The family’s collection is being appraised by Michael Osacky, an appraiser for the International Society of Appraisers and head authenticator for Californa-based Professional Sports Authenticator who has made several trips to Oneonta to appraise the collection. 

The family declined to be identified for this story; Osacky said they requested anonymity.

The collection, which consists of complete or near-complete sets of mainly Tops brand baseball, basketball and football cards from the 1950s to 1970s, is highlighted by a Syracuse University alumnus, Jim Brown, and his 1957 Cleveland Browns rookie card.

“The collection was kind of like a life-long hobby of the gentleman who passed away some time ago and that’s what he did for fun, is he would try to piece together sets of all the cards he got,” Osacky said.

“The values have really gone up over time. Ten years ago the collection wasn’t that valuable and now all of a sudden it’s very valuable, and the family is trying to determine what they should do,” he continued.

Before this, the family had not sought to have the collection evaluated, but realized the cards’ potential value when they started doing online research, Osacky said.

“They kind of just put it to the side and felt like it was worth a couple peanuts or not much,” he continued.

After the family contacted Osacky, he made multiple trips to Oneonta to evaluate the collection.

“People with large collections, they cant take 10,000 photos and email them to me. It’s just easier if I’m on site going through them and I can assess the condition that way,” Osacky said. “(The collection is) worth somewhere north of $125,000.”

Unlike the rest of the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, Osacky said, the vintage trading card and sports memorabilia industry has been surprisingly “booming.”

Osacky attributed the boom to three factors:

• Stay-at-home orders, which gave people time to sort through collections of old sports memorabilia.

• Government stimulus checks, which have been spent on sports memorabilia because pandemic-related restrictions prevented people from purchasing travel and entertainment experiences.

• Sports memorabilia, which started trending online when celebrities and athletes began posting their individual sports memorabilia collections.

“It’s been like a domino effect and all of a sudden this hobby ... now is like front page news, and hedge funds are now purchasing these cards every single day,” Osacky said.

“There was a moment at a press conference in the fall when LeBron James talked about his rookie card selling for $1.8 million,” he added.

Osacky said he has been at the heart of the memorabilia rush from the start, working 15-hour days throughout.

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