The gum must be AWFUL by now

It’s this sort of thing that causes my brother to drag me through antique shops and thrift stores for hours on end whenever we’re together:

Bernice Gallego sat down one day this summer, as she does pretty much every day, and began listing items on eBay.

She dug into a box and pulled out a baseball card. She stopped for a moment and admired the picture. “Red Stocking B.B. Club of Cincinnati,” the card said, under a sepia tone photo of 10 men with their socks pulled up to their knees. The card itself was dirty and wrinkled in a few places.

It was definitely old, Gallego thought. As a collector and seller, it’s her job to spot old items that might have value today, to find the gems among the junk.

It’s what Bernice, 72, and her husband Al Gallego, 80, have been doing since 1974 at Collectique, their antiques store in the Fresno, Calif., Tower District full of old jukeboxes, slot machines and records.

This card, she figured, was worth selling on eBay.

She did what she does with most items: Took a picture, wrote a description and put it up for auction. She put a $10 price tag on it, deciding against $15 because it would have cost her an extra 20 cents . . .

. . . as Bernice Gallego came to find out in the following weeks, it could be worth a lot more.

The card is actually 139 years old. It, and a handful of others like it, are considered the first baseball cards. Sports card collectors call the find “extremely rare” and estimate the card could fetch five, or perhaps, six figures at auction.

It’s an 1869 Cincinnati Red Stocking team card. My guess: she has the checklist too, but some young punk marked off all the boxes on it with a ballpoint in 1874, rendering it worthless.

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