NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Joe Fay, a manager at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, felt a jolt of excitement when he saw the man walk through the door, carrying a folded piece of paper, yellowed by time.

“This gentleman walked in and it was folded up and he said, ‘I have this thing. I don’t know what it is. Thought I’d bring it to you to find out a little bit more,’” said Fay, who oversees the consignment of rare books and maps at Heritage Auctions.

So what was this piece of paper that Fay fell in love with at a consignment fair in Alabama? It turned out to be an 1849 map of the state of Texas – a map drawn only four years after Texas had become the Lone Star State.

“That’s what makes this extra special, to find a map in this good of a condition, this rare and unrestored …is really important,” Fay told CBS 11 News.

The value of the map is estimated at between $150,000 and $200,000. But Fay and the owner of the map, Patrick Martin of Birmingham, Ala., won’t know what it will actually bring until this Saturday, when Heritage holds an auction in Dallas.

Martin, in a phone interview with CBS 11 News, said the map had been in his family for years, likely obtained by an ancestor who, as a lawyer, did land grants in Texas.

Martin said he played with the map as a kid, but never knew whether it was worth much until he met recently with Fay. “I knew as soon as I pulled the map out. His eyes lit up,” he said of the encounter.

Whatever it brings, Martin says he expects to enjoy the unexpected windfall.

“That certainly will add to my retirement account. My sister and I will share the money …get rid of credit, and still have money to play with,” he said.

Fay, who is no stranger to valuable works from the past, is also enjoying the moment. “We’ve never had anything this special and I don’t expect we’ll ever see this again, honestly,” he said, adding, “This is a once-in-a-career find.”

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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