Earlier this year, the card set known today as E98s received a huge boost in popularity, due to the famed “Black Swamp Find.” The cards, issued in 1910, were produced by an unknown manufacturer but are closely related to other candy issues of the era. Comprised of 30 different cards, a “master” set consists of 120 cards because each card can be found with four different color backgrounds – red, orange, blue, and green.
The set is absolutely loaded, with 17 Hall of Famers and a significant number of the day’s stars. Pound for pound, the E98 set may actually be the greatest prewar set in the hobby, and up until this year, it existed with very little notice beyond the more hardcore prewar collectors.
Then, the “Black Swamp Find” happened – a hoard of high-grade E98s, passed down (and nearly thrown away on multiple occasions) within an Ohio family and stored in a small box in an attic, finally brought to auction earlier this year. The collection of E98s set the hobby buzzing, wondering what would happen to the values of E98s with these new, high-grade specimens suddenly available. The first group sold for nearly $600,000 after being displayed in the PSA booth at the National in Baltimore.
It was the Black Swamp Find that unearthed the Rudy Strejc Collection. Love of the Game Auction consignor read about the find, and got to talking with his father about their late Uncle Rudy’s cards, also stored in the attic. Upon examining the collection, our consignor found a host of interesting ephemera, including hundreds of baseball cards from the tobacco era.
As we’ve noted, the cards were not “Black Swamp” level cards, in terms of condition. However, the scope of the collection was much more varied, and included significant rarities: the aforementioned T206 Old Mill Josh Devore is the only known example of the card. The collection included nearly 100 different T206s (mostly with Old Mill or EPDG backs), approximately 270 Obaks, a number of 1911 Zeenuts and 1910 D310 Pacific Coast Biscuits, and a few other scarce Pacific Coast League cards.
And, oddly enough, the collection also included a number of E98s.
The E98s, like the other cards in the Rudy Strejc Collection, are best described as “collector grade.” Unlike many of the others, however, most of the E98s are untrimmed, damaged only by the attention paid to them by young Rudy – he clearly handled his cards. Ultimately, though, the collection included nearly two-thirds of the set, including all the major Hall of Famers as well as some of the more scarce commons. The E98s in the Rudy Strejc Collection are found in all four colors.
We’ve had each of the E98s graded (and pedigreed) by SGC. We’ll be selling the majority of them individually, but have also broken some into interesting small group lots. All are lower-grade, but prior to the Black Swamp Find it was very difficult to find E98s in high grade. Like the rest of the Rudy Strejc Collection, this was not a group of cards that was safely stored away in an attic for 100 years – these cards belonged to a boy who was a collector, just ten years old when the cards were issued.
We’re proud to show you some of them right here.
If you’ve got any questions about specific E98s that might be included in the auction, please don’t hesitate to ask right here.