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Smoking might kill but it can also pay off as this collection of more than 1.400 baseball tobacco cards dating from 1909 to 1911 - an era when the Yankees were the Highlanders, the Dodgers were the Superbas and the Braves were the Doves - goes up for auction at Saco River Auction Co. The collection belongs to the grandchildren of a Brooklyn, New York-born man.

Smaller than modern baseball cards, these cards known as "T206" cards feature color lithographs on the front and a tobacco advertisement on the back. The collection of cards, from Havana-brand El Principe De Gales and other cigarette brands of the era like American Beauty, Sweet Caporal, Sovereign and Piedmont, includes about 10 cards depicting Cy Young and a dozen depicting Ty Cobb, along with other great baseball players like Chief Bender, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson.

"If you love baseball, this is the beginning of it. This is where stars were made and heroes were born. They're colorful, they're bright, they're folky, they're Americana," says auctioneer Troy Thibodeau about the collection.

Last year, a collector from Massachusetts paid $92.000 for an 1865 baseball card depicting the Brooklyn Atlantics amateur baseball club. Several of the lots which are in mint condition are estimated by the auction house to reach five figure bids.

See more baseball memorabilia on Barnebys here.

 

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