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Rare 1865 baseball card to be auctioned in Maine

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BIDDEFORD, Maine (AP) - Six-figure bids are expected when a rare 148-year-old baseball card discovered at a rural Maine yard sale is auctioned.

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Saco River Auction Co. in Biddeford is holding an auction Wednesday evening that includes a card depicting the Brooklyn Atlantics amateur baseball club.

The card isn't the same as a modern-day baseball card, which became common in the 1880s. Rather, it's an original photograph from 1865 mounted on a card, showing nine players and a manager.

The Library of Congress said last month it was aware of only two copies of the photo. The other is in the institution's collection.

In its book ``Baseball Americana,'' the Library of Congress calls the item the first dated baseball card, handed out to supporters and opposing teams in a gesture of bravado from the brash Brooklynites, who were dominant and won their league championships in 1861, 1864 and 1865.

About half a dozen people are expected to bid by phone, and at least five people have said they'll travel to the auction house to place bids, said Troy Thibodeau, manager and auctioneer at Saco River Auction.

``The great unknown is the Internet,'' Thibodeau said. ``We have two Internet bidding sites, and we won't know how many people will use those until the bidding begins.''

A Maine man who doesn't want to be publicly identified found the card inside an old photo album he bought while antique picking in the small town of Baileyville on the Canadian border. The man bought the photo album, old Coca-Cola bottles and a couple of oak chairs together in a single purchase for less than $100, Thibodeau said.

It's impossible to predict what kind of price the card will fetch because of its rarity, he said, but he guessed the winning bid will fall somewhere between $50,000 and $500,000. The priciest baseball card ever is a 1909 Honus Wagner card, which sold for $2.8 million in 2007.

Thibodeau said he's expecting a packed house for the auction because of the interest in the card, which is one of 425 items being sold. The auction house has seating for about 150 people, and can hold an estimated 500 people for standing-room crowds, he said.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
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