Treasure in your attic? Sports appraiser will let you know

Honus Wagner baseball card.

Honus Wagner baseball card.

By KEVIN BRADY

Is there treasure in your attic? Michael Osacky has the answer.

The sports card and memorabilia appraiser will host a free show at the Ruskin Library from 2:30 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 28, and hopes to find someone who has the baseball version of a van Gogh in their attic.

Osacky, who lives in Chicago and travels the country as an appraiser, plans to meet with several clients in the area while he’s here, but he said sunny Florida in the midst of the arctic chill of the Windy City was also part of the draw for the Ruskin show.

“I have some people I will meet there, but I think most important is that I can get to Florida at the end of February,” said Osacky, joking. He writes a regular column for Parade Magazine/Parade.com. He has also contributed to other national media such as the Huffington Post, The New York Times and American Legion Magazine.

Osacky will provide tips on what to look for when you stumble across some old baseball cards or sports memorabilia at that garage sale as well as information on self-appraising your collection. At the end of the presentation, Osacky will provide a free appraisal for attendees who bring in their vintage sports items.

“Vintage sports card and memorabilia is not like art,” Osacky said. “If you have a piece of art, you can take it to a dealer on Main Street, U.S.A. and they will tell you what you have. With vintage sports cards it’s different. You need a person who understands [how to evaluate an item] to help people understand the true value of what they have.”

Osacky started collecting vintage sports cards when his grandfather bought him a shoebox full of cards for his 17th birthday. Since then he has traveled the country, searching for those elusive gems in the rough — card and sports memorabilia collecting dust in homes.

During the course of his travels, Osacky, who works full time in the business and has already logged more than 20 trips this year, has handled some of the top collections, including a complete 1933 Goudey Gum Co. set valued at $50,000 to $60,000. The set includes four Babe Ruth and two Lou Gehrig cards.

Writing on the Huffington Post website, Osacky recalled giving advice to “an older gentleman whose father played for the Yankees several decades ago. The house was being sold and all the artifacts were being unearthed from the attic.”

In compiling his appraisal for the gentleman’s items — things like World Series rings and signed photographs — Osacky offered the following advice:

Autographs: Need to have a trusted third party authenticate the items. (I provided him with three of the best so he could make the correct decision.) I also advised him that the quality and darkness of the autographs was very important. Signatures tend to fade if left in sunlight, which will affect value. Generally, autographs on baseballs, bats and jerseys are worth more than autographs on cards or baseballs.

Rings: I use a loupe to look at the diamond, gold and overall condition of the ring. Be on the lookout for diamonds being switched out for cubic zirconia. In this specific case, the diamond was authentic and rings were rarely worn. The player didn’t like to wear rings. He only wore them on VIP occasions such as Hall of Fame Museum visits, charity fundraisers and family dinners. Rings that don’t show lots of wear are worth more because they have fewer scratches on them.

Cards: Are the cards trimmed? Many people trim cards to have sharp corners. I measured every card from every year to make sure the cards were genuine. Many more important factors must be looked at to determine the ultimate value of the card.