Sports memorabilia appraiser Michael Osacky will give a lecture on the history of baseball cards and the importance of the authenticity of autographs before offering free appraisals of sports collectables on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Southwest Regional Library in Durham.
Osacky is a certified vintage sports card and memorabilia appraiser who is qualified to look at anything sports related from 1870 to 1970. His hour-and-a-half long presentation will include 45 minutes of him providing appraisal expertise to those who attend.
“I’m a specialist that people can go to to really figure out for certain how much that Babe Ruth signed baseball that was passed down from grandpa is worth,” Osacky told The News & Observer earlier this week. “How much is that childhood shoebox collection worth? The problem is sometimes people take these things to their antiques dealer on Main Street, but the antiques dealer doesn’t quite have the expertise.”
Osacky said he’s on the road for about a 100 days a year seeing different collections or doing programming like the event on Saturday in cities around the country.
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Throughout the years, he’s seen some pretty crazy stuff at events similar to the one coming to Durham, including a Babe Ruth signed baseball card dated Aug. 16, 1948 - the day Ruth died - worth around $40,000 or more as well as complete 1915 Cracker Jack baseball card set.
“Before I gave (the man with the card set) the appraisal, I said, ‘Just out of curiosity, what do you think it’s worth?’” Osacky said. “He said, ‘About two thousand dollars?’ and I told him it was worth about $80-85 thousand... and that he may need to get a bodyguard or a police officer to escort him to the parking lot.”
Before evaluating memorabilia on Saturday, the 37-year-old will talk about the history of some of the earliest baseball cards, and share tips for collectors from the standpoint of an industry insider.
Osacky’s interest in sports memorabilia began when receiving a shoebox full of old baseball cards from his grandfather in 1997. Obsessed with the history of the cards themselves and what contributed to their individual values, the Chicago resident and owner of Baseball in the Attic, a business that buys and appraises memorabilia, began educating the public about those topics as his profession.
“I’ll be talking about autographs, authentication and why authentication is so important,” Osacky said. “I’ll also talk about some of the really crazy finds over the years. Someone in 2012 found $5 million of baseball cards in her attic….What interests me is the values; I’m looking at two Ricky Henderson rookie cards - why is one of them $100 and one of them is $300?”
If you go
When: Saturday, 2-3:30 p.m.
Where: Southwest Regional Library, 3605 Shannon Road, Durham