By Marice Richter
DALLAS (Reuters) - A pre-Civil War baseball card that survived as an heirloom within the family of a player for more than 150 years is being offered at auction, with online bidding starting on Tuesday, a Dallas-based auction house said.
The 1860s Brooklyn Atlantics team card is expected to fetch at least $50,000, said Heritage Auctions, which will sell the card at its Platinum Night Sports Auction on July 30, coinciding with the 2015 National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago.
The card has remained in the family of Archibald McMahon, an outfielder for the Atlantic Base Ball Club of Brooklyn.
The Atlantics were a founding member of baseball’s first organized league, the National Association of Base Ball Players, and reigned as champions from 1859 through 1861, the auction house said.
"This is a seminal artifact, not just of baseball, but of American history," Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions for Heritage, said in a statement.
It is possibly "the only team card on Earth printed before the first drop of blood was spilled in the American Civil War."
The card was consigned for auction by Florence Sasso, 75, a descendant of McMahon's. The card was passed down to her from her mother, who inherited it from other relatives.
A native New Yorker who lives in Massachusetts, Sasso stashed the card a inside a book for a while and in a piece of furniture for safekeeping.
She said her late mother, Mildred, loved baseball and cherished the card.
"She always wanted it to take care of me and now it will," Sasso said in a statement.
(Reporting by Marice Richter; Editing by Jon Herskovitz and Eric Beech)