1903 World Series program auctioned for $241,500

Tue, Nov 15

Let's say you buy something for a nickel. Then you sell it for $241,500. That's a 4.83 million percent return. Sounds like a pretty good investment, right?

World Series Cover
Hunt Auctions1903 World Series program.

Just one catch: You have to wait over a century to cash in.

That's one way of looking at the 1903 World Series program that was recently sold by the memorabilia dealer Hunt Auctions. Originally sold for 5 cents at Exposition Park in Pittsburgh (that's where the Pirates played in those days), it was estimated by Hunt to be worth somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000 but ended up selling for more than 200 grand.

At any price, the program is an interesting artifact, mainly because of the advertisements, which provide a peek into a bygone world. It's not every day, for example, that you can be flipping through a baseball program and spot an ad for a sanitarium promising to cure maladies via "the Sprague Hot Air Aparatus" and "the Parkhurst Willow Bark Cure." And hey, look at those interest rates -- not too shabby, at least by today's standards. (Still, it's good to know that some things never change: Even a century ago, they were making Heinz jokes in Pittsburgh.)

According to Hunt, only one other '03 Series program is known to exist, and it's in Cooperstown at the Hall of Fame. But surely there must be another copy or two floating around out there. Did your great-great-grandfather attend the Fall Classic that year? Quick, check the attic -- your pot of gold could be packed away at the bottom of a box of old books and photos.