Pre-Civil War baseball card could sell for $50,000 or more at auction

A pre-Civil War baseball card featuring the Brooklyn Atlantics is heading to the auction block, where it's expected to sell for more than $50,000.

The card, which has remained in the same family for more than 150 years, is being offered by Heritage Auctions at its Platinum Night Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago on July 30. Online bidding for the card opened Tuesday.

The 2.5-inch by 4-inch card features a team photo of the Brooklyn Atlantics that was taken circa 1860. Florence Sasso, 75, of Great Barrington, Mass., decided to put the card up for auction after finding out another Atlantics card produced in 1865 recently sold at auction for $92,000.

"My mother gave it to me about 25 years ago," Sasso told the Associated Press. "We had my grandfather's bedroom set, which had secret drawers, and she kept it there inside a Fanny Farmer chocolate candy box. She gave it to me because no one else wanted it."

Sasso's great-great uncle, Archibald McMahon, an outfielder for the Atlantics, is one of the nine players shown on the card. The Atlantics were a founding member of the National Assn. of Base Ball Players -- the first organized league that held baseball championships from 1859 through 1861.

"It's one of the seminal cards from the beginning of the game," said Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions at Heritage Auctions. "The fact that it's got a direct link to a member of the team and has been in the same family for over 150 years is very interesting."

The Atlantics card is one of only two known to still be in existence. Private collector Corey Shanus, a New York real estate developer and 19th-century baseball memorabilia collector, acquired his card about 15 years ago in a trade of other memorabilia.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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