The card depicts the Brooklyn Atlantics, an amateur baseball team founded in 1855 (nearly 50 years before the New York Yankees, for context). According to Yahoo, the team was based in what is now the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn.
In 1864 and 1865, the year in which the card was made, the Atlantics went undefeated and became national champions. The only other known card of the Atlantics, which is housed in the Library of Congress, dubs the team “Champions of America.”
The card was found in a photo album by a man who had been antique-hunting in rural Maine, according to USA Today and Troy Thibodeau of Saco River Auction Co. in Biddeford. The man who found the baseball card happened on it by accident after he purchased the photo album alongside several old chairs and Coca-Cola memorabilia for $100.
The 1860s artifact differs from modern baseball cards in a few key ways. The biggest difference is that while modern baseball cards are specifically printed with pictures and statistics on cardstock, this 1865 baseball card is an original photograph of the Brooklyn team that has been specially mounted on a card.
According to the Library of Congress, this is the first dated baseball card in existence, apparently handed out to fans at games. Until now, the Library of Congress believed they possessed the only surviving copy.
While the card of the Brooklyn Atlantics is exceedingly rare, it isn’t the priciest baseball card in existence. That honor goes to a 1909 card of Honus Wagner, which sold for a breathtaking $2.8 million in 2007.
But because the card is so rare, auctioneers expect it to reach an extremely high price.
"There hasn't been another one that's sold," Thibodeau told USA Today. "When there are only two known in the world, what's it worth?"
The 1865 baseball card officially goes up for auction at Saco River on Feb. 6.