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Cookies and the Cream of the Cardboard Crop as Heritage Offers Some of Baseball’s Rarest Cards in Summer Sports Card Catalog Auction

Updated: Jun 26

Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays lead the 1959 Dad’s Cookies roster, while sealed boxes and cases and two highest-graded Ty Cobb tobacco cards light up July 12-13 event

DALLAS, Texas (June 18, 2024) – There are copious cardboard gems to be found in Heritage Auctions’ July 12-13 Summer Sports Card Catalog Auction, among them a coveted mint-condition 1952 Topps Jackie Robinsonthe beloved gem-mint Michael Jordan Fleer rookie card and a gem-mint chrome rookie card signed by a young Bryce Harper alongside sealed packs, boxes and cases containing untold treasures. This event, rich in signed Shohei Ohtanis and best-of-the-best Ty Cobb tobacco cards, is the perfect warm-up to the searing heat Heritage hurls this summer with an auction that features Babe Ruth’s “Called Shot” jersey among its vast cache of Hall of Fame treasures.


Among the highlights of this Sports Card Catalog Auction are the 1959 baseball cards that once came stapled to containers full of Canadian cookies – cards so rare that PSA counts only 69 of them in its population report. More than half of that population –37 cards! – is available in this event, represented by a stacked roster whose legendary lineup includes Mickey MantleWillie MaysHank AaronStan MusialEddie MathewsWhitey FordErnie Banks and Yogi Berra

Fret not if you’ve never heard the name of the card’s distributor, Dad’s Cookies. Their place in the history books – buried in the footnotes, recorded in the fine print – makes them so significant and extraordinary.

“These cards excite even the most veteran collector because they’re something most hobbyists haven’t seen in years – or, more likely, ever,” says Joe Orlando, Heritage’s Executive Vice President in Sports. “These Dad’s Cookies cards are why people hunt for these things – to find that lost gem, the forgotten treasure.” 

The Dad’s Cookies cards were printed by a company well known in the hobby: Exhibits Supply Company, which was founded in 1907 in Chicago by J. Frank Meyer, a printer who created picture postcards distributed in arcades, the so-called “pleasure palaces” of the early 20th century. As Sports Collectors Digestnoted in its extensive history of the manufacturer, Exhibits started with risqué photos of women (“art models”) in 1914 before branching out into “baseball players, boxers, movie stars and more art models” and then expanding into entertainment figures, wrestlers, boxers, football players and cowboys. The cards sold for a penny.

Exhibits thrived for decades, eventually licensing its products to other companies and countries. In 1959, that included Dad’s Cookies, which started in Los Angeles, opened a Vancouver outpost in 1930 and was eventually swallowed whole by Nabisco in 1986. The cards were promotional items stapled to bags and boxes of cookies, each one bearing a note from “Sandy” (the company’s Scottish mascot) persuading the kids to collect all 64 “autographed” pictures of “a BIG LEAGUE BASEBALL STAR.” There was also a giveaway for “FREE COLOURED ALBUM” into which the kids could paste their giveaway photos.

This explains why all these cards are so rare – and why even those graded “poor” remain the highest graded (or the only graded!) in PSA’s scarcely populated census.

Speaking of the highest-graded examples: This auction features two of the most sought-after Portrait-Red Ty Cobb T206s from the early 1900s.

One is the El Principe de Gales Ty Cobb, graded PSA NM 7. More than 2,500 “portrait-red” Cobbs have been submitted for grading over the years, with but a handful able to pull a near-mint (or higher) grade. Only one has the El Principe de Gales ad on the back (for “cork-tip Havana cigarettes”) – and it hasn’t been available at auction in nearly a decade.

The American Beauty Portrait-Red Cobb is no less spectacular: The example offered in this auction is the lone PSA EX-MT 6 in existence – and, like its Cuban cigarette counterpart, the highest-graded example.

“The red portrait is so popular, but the scarcer backs are a big deal to those who take T206 collecting to the next level,” Orlando says. “Especially when it’s the finest known example, as is the case with these Cobbs.”

Collectors are also drawn – of late, especially – to the sealed boxes and cases, of which there are several notable examples in this auction, led by the 1970 Topps Baseball Wax Box (1st & 3rd Series) containing 24 unopened packs that could hold Carl Yastrzemski, Vida Blue’s rookie card, Rod Carew, Tom Seaver or Roberto Clemente.

Part of their appeal is nostalgia: “It’s time in a bottle,” says Orlando, “your childhood frozen in time.” And part of their attraction is the mystery: “It’s about what might be inside.”

There’s also a third factor that’s seldom discussed: “It’s one of the rare collectible categories where the population goes down,” Orlando says. “Individual cards are constantly being graded and added to population reports. With unopened products, the population can decline over time, especially as pack, box and case breaking has become so popular. You’re buying into a collectible where there’s a chance fewer of them exist in an unopened state down the road.”

That’s especially true with newer boxes and cases, such as the 2015 Upper Deck Hockey Series 1 Hobby Unopened Case with 12 boxes or the 2020 Panini Flawless Football Factory Sealed Case with two boxes in this auction. A breaker has more than 2,000 shots at scoring at least one Connor McDavid rookie card or 20 chances at hitting a gem-mint rookie patch auto in the Panini case.

“There’s a contingent of people who really enjoy opening this stuff and unlocking the mystery,” Orlando says. “It can take a serious amount of courage, but it’s part of what makes this collecting category so intriguing.”


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