Jefferson Burdick

Jefferson Burdick (1900-1963) was a pioneer baseball card collector whose invented classifications still govern the hobby; he donated his enormous collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it remains one of the most popular destinations for researchers. He created The American Card Catalog, the bible of the hobby, in 1939, and tribute is paid to his lifelong work any time one brings up T-206 or N-162 or other codes common in the hobby. Burdick was “a collector’s collector,” said Freyda Spira, the Met’s assistant curator in the drawings and prints department. “He didn’t collect cards because of their value but because of his interest in history.” As he wrote in 1948, he regarded his life’s work as “a national collection belonging to everybody.” His quiet joys were not in chasing value or celebrity, or in mere accumulation, but in his research and in the legacy he consciously built, through crippling arthritis, to his dying days.


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