A collection of baseball cards from 1909, including two feauring Ty Cobb, found among the possessions of a former Parker family member will be on display Sunday. (Photo above by Liz Hanson. Click to enlarge)[CORRECTION: The original version of this article incorrectly reported that there may be thousands of baseball cards in the collection. That estimate refers to postcards, not baseball cards.]
By JOHN T. WARD
Old-time baseball, that is, in the form of a rare set of baseball cards discovered recently in a cookie tin among piles of possessions from the historic house on Rumson Road.
Sponsored by PH1665 Incorporated, the not-for-profit organization responsible for the ongoing restoration of the National Historic Site, the Flag Day Open House will feature a display of antique American flags and a lunch of free hot dogs provided by Sickles Market.
Also on the itinerary are guided tours of the house, which was owned by the Parker family for some 330 years until 1995, when Julia Parker died and deeded the property to the borough, stipulating that the homestead be preserved as a historic landmark and used for historic educational purposes.
Fans of baseball’s early days may be thrilled by the one-day exhibit of Stan Parker’s 1909 baseball card collection. Shown to the public for the first time, the collection – which includes cards featuring Hall-of-Famers Ty Cobb and Christy Mathewson – was lost for nearly 75 years, until found recently in a closed cookie tin buried in a bag of old letters and postcards.
The discovery was made by Parker restoration volunteer Liz Hanson, who had already spent several years sorting through and cataloging the contents of “hundreds of boxes of stuff” at the nearby 150-year-old borough-owned Bates House, where all the home’s furniture, books and extensive farm records had been stored.
Her efforts became a hurry-up salvage operation when the collection got soaked after a pipe burst in the Bates House in February, Hanson tells redbankgreen.
In a bag, Hanson said, she found – among numerous postcards, a 1920’s dress, and “an old shirt box completely full of locks of human hair” – “an old, dirty Christmas cookie tin.” The tin contained, she said in an email,
“several series of cigarette cards: American Indians, Famous Men, Unusual Animals, and there were baseball cards from the Philadelphia Caramel Company. As I stood on the porch shuffling through them knowing nothing about baseball, I did recognize the name Ty Cobb and I was pretty sure that I should take the tin and contents inside. The tin had kept all of the cards perfectly dry and, although I am not a collector, in my unprofessional opinion I would call most of them in good shape: Corners present, not many were creased, none actually folded. The back of the cards list the players in the set and it is not complete. Internet search tells me we are missing one of the really big ones from the set (Wagner), but we do have duplicates of others. They are smaller that the baseball cards kids collected when I was young.”
Hanson reports that she’s still sorting through
baseball postcards, and “there may be thousands” by the time she’s done. Eventually, she said, there may be a showing of the cards alone, she said.
The Flag Day Open House takes place on Sunday, June 14, between 1 and 4 p.m. Parker Homestead is at 235 Rumson Road in Little Silver, adjoining the entrance to Sickles Market. Admission free, with parking available at the nearby Sickles Market lot. Take it here for more information on the ongoing Parker project.