DeLessio: The greatest card collection ever is finally where everyone can see it

From Joe DeLessio at VICE Sports on October 13, 2015:

Freyda Spira knew the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York possessed one of the most famous collections of trading cards in the world when she began working as an associate curator in the department of drawings and prints six years ago. She also knew that most of it had never seen the light of day. The collection—famed not just for its valuable rarities, but also for its scope—consists of some 30,000 baseball cards, plus more than 30,000 others depicting boxers, football players, tennis stars, and other sports figures. Yes, it includes a Honus Wagner T206—the holy grail of sports collectables, and a card that sold for $1.32 million earlier this year and has been sold for as much as $2.8 million. But it also contains the entire T206 series, as well as countless other cardboard treasures from the late 19th century through the late 1950s.

All of these cards were donated by a Syracuse electrician named Jefferson Burdick, who obsessively collected postcards, advertising inserts, and other printed materials; he created a system for cataloguing these items that remains the standard to this day. (It was Burdick who gave the T206 series that label). Considered the father of baseball card collecting, Burdick donated some 303,000 materials to the museum in all, beginning in 1947. The Met has generally kept some small portion of the Burdick collection—largest public collection of cards outside of the Baseball Hall of Fame—on display, but few people have actually seen all of it.

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Originally published: October 13, 2015. Last Updated: October 13, 2015.