“To be able to own the first baseball card that’s ever been known to exist outside of the Library of Congress was a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity,” he said.
LeBlanc learned the Brooklyn Atlantics card was coming up for auction a couple months ago. A Maine man had discovered the card inside an old photo album he picked up while antiquing near the Canadian border. He bought the album along with some old Coca-Cola bottles and a couple oak chairs for less than $100 combined.
The card, which dates to the Civil War era, features an original team photo of the Atlantics, one of the first teams known to invent America’s sport of baseball.
LeBlanc said a similar Atlantics card is in the collection at the Library of Congress. While both cards depict a team photo of the Atlantics taken the same day, with the same camera, the shots on them are from two different negatives. And it’s unclear which photo on the two cards was taken first.
The Saco River Auction Co., which handled the sale, expected the card could fetch anywhere from $50,000 to $500,000. LeBlanc set an $80,000 limit on what he would spend. Bidding opened at $10,000 and quickly rose — with LeBlanc battling a phone bidder at the end before putting in the winning offer of $80,000. With the 18 percent required premium, the final price tag was $92,000.
“If the bidding had gone one penny higher, I was out,” LeBlanc said.
He’s since been told the phone bidder was an agent for actor Charlie Sheen.
LeBlanc admits that some people will think he’s crazy to spend $92,000 on a baseball card. But the Bentley University graduate with a background in finances believes trading cards — particularly one of such historical significance — is a better investment than most these days.