Topps Of The Upper Deck: The Largest Baseball Card Collection On Earth

Tokens of the past are precious, and sports cards from a different era are even more valuable, especially signed ones.

If a token of memory is a personal one, then it gets passed on from generation to generation within a family. However, if it is something that is hyped like sports cards, then it travels the world in different hands. This usually happens when huge sports card collections are held by someone and then get sold in a famous auction. The largest baseball collection on earth is similar to artifacts that are nurtured in a museum.

Why are Baseball Cards so Valuable?

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The high value of baseball and other sports cards dates back to the times when it first became one of the favorite pastimes. Photography and baseball were relatively new back in the 19th century. To preserve the memory of these new developments in human history, baseball clubs had their players pose for photographs.

These photographs then got printed in pocket-size or wallet-size frames and took the form of baseball cards. These cards would increase in value if baseball celebrity players autographed them. Another factor that increased its value was how old the cards were, which is similar to preserving coins that were no longer valid in the present-day currency.

The Story Of Paul Jones

Paul is reportedly the largest baseball private card collector globally, with a collection of 3 million cards. Paul Jones became an enthusiast when he was a mere kid due to the influence of his parents. When Paul was about ten years old, the family attended a match, and Lorraine, Paul’s mother, suggested his father Barry buy Paul a few cards.

It was a Las Vegas Stars minor league baseball game, and Barry got Paul his first cards and a pen from the designated shop to get it autographed. Paul’s parents asked him to stand by the rails to ask for autographs from any player passing by.

A 10-year-old Paul with Asperger’s syndrome was a shy kid and found it difficult to ask for autographs. He finally got noticed by the manager of the baseball team Tim Flannery and Flannery, on seeing that nobody that gave the little boy their autograph signed a card. He also took Paul and him to introduce him to the players, and eventually, all of them signed his cards.

The History Of The Paul Jones Collection

What began as a shy encounter later turned into a passion for Paul Jones. He started collecting cards starting in 1995 with a pack of Stars minor cards, autographed in the locker room. Paul’s father, Barry, has been a constant support to his son when it came to card collecting. They collected as many cards as they could from card stores, Target, Walmart, and KB Toys during the baseball card boom of the 1990s and the 2000s.

While traveling, too, the father-son duo used to buy packs of cards from Minor League or Major League baseball stadiums in the area and tried to get them autographed. He continued with this hobby for more than 24 years and soon set a record in card holding. In 2008, Jones became the record holder for the largest private collection of sports cards in the Guinness World Book of Records.

The Wondrous Cards In Jones’ Treasure Trove

Paul Jones certainly has a favorite, and it is none other than Josh Hamilton from the Rangers. He also met legendary players like Jose Canseco, Tim Salmon, Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton, and Bill Butler. The collection that Jones owns is worth a massive $500,000, which, is worth more than a collector’s item.

As Barry recounts, it is sometimes more about the number of cards than the quality for Paul. Plus, he is also very meticulous when it comes to arranging these cards so that he can keep track of every card he owns. He organizes them in an alphabetical order so as not to ever lose even one of them.

Discovering The ‘Uncle Jimmy Collection’

Jimmy Micioni, from New Jersey, who passed away last year, was one of the biggest baseball card collectors who had a cataloged sports card collection worth over a massive $1 million.

Although Jimmy had sometimes shown his nephews and nieces his collection during birthday parties and family reunions while he was alive, they were not completely aware of how massive the collection was. The family discovered the cards in the attic after Uncle Jimmy’s unfortunate demise at 97. He had been collecting cards for over nine decades, and his family found his treasure chest in this Boonton home when they were clearing out his belongings after his death.

The Value Of Jimmy Micioni’s Exclusive Card Collection

One of his nieces, Jeanne Griffith, told CNN that such memorabilia was decked up in the attic that it almost resembled a museum. Uncle Jimmy had cards autographed by legends such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Jimmie Foxx. He used to mail them to the players for their autographs and later even held on to the envelopes. The collection was originally worth about $1 million. Still, it had the potential of yielding up to several millions when it was listed for sale at the Wheatland Auction Services by Chuck and Stacey Wisman.

Later these cards were evaluated by the third-party grading and authentication company, Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA). The president of PSA, Steve Sloan, admitted that it was a top-tier card collection. It had six kinds of 1933 Goudey cards signed by Babe Ruth himself, and one among these six cards got sold for about $153,400 last year.

Collectors like Paul and Jimmy did the collecting out of their love and passion for the sport. In the long run, such hobbies have the potential of yielding some fancy bucks. Monetizing it, however, is the last thing on most collectors’ minds as they are true connoisseurs.

READ NEXT: Stealing Home: The Ten Biggest Contracts In Baseball History

Source: Sports Collectors Digest,, PodRegister, CNN

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