Friday, July 18, 2008

Obaks and the Purple Stamps

Obaks are a wonderful little group of tobacco cards that were produced between 1909 and 1911 and they represent players from the Pacific Coast League and the Northwestern League.

They are known for having some extremely beautiful and colorful images on them. However, I wanted to talk a bit about something on the backs of many of them. It appears to be very common for a 1910 Obak to have a purple ink stamp on the back. Sometimes these stamps are actually legible, but most of the time I have found them to be more of an ink blotch that an actual stamp.

What are these stamps from? I'm sure there are stamps on Obaks that are not purple, and may be something specific, but the vast majority of the stamps I see on them are this exact color purple. In the image above there seems to be a 7 at the top left. Is that the beginning of a date stamp? I seem to remember seeing date stamps in this purple color, but I also seem to remember an actual name stamped as well.

Sometimes the stamp is barely there too. The example on the left has the purple ink on it, but it looks like nothing in particular. If someone were stamping the backs of their cards for some reason, wouldn't they want it to actually be a decent stamp? This stamp is pointless. It just defaces the back of the card.
I know that when these cards were issued, and even into the 1960's, collecting baseball cards wasn't a big hobby. People didn't care what condition their cards were in like they do now with grading and flipping and the whole investment side of the hobby. But why would someone just ink up the back of Obaks?

Was it just one person with a purple stamp? Was it done at the printer's factory? Was it one collector's way of labelling his own cards? And why do they show up on the 1910 series more than the other two? The 1909's are so rare, maybe they just weren't as plentiful back then, and therefore our purple stamp afficianado may not have collected them. But if he was so into the 1910's that he wanted to stamp them all, why not continue with the 1911 series when they came out?

Have you ever noticed these stamps? Do you know what they are or can you give me any insight into them at all? Do you have one that is very legible to share with me? Let me see it, send me a scan.

Here's a few more to see. Click on them to see the larger images.

Click on "comments" below to leave me a comment please.
Enjoy the hobby all...

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