Saturday, June 30, 2012

1880's Trade Card

Here's a neat card I have tucked away and almost forgot I had.

This is an 1880's (I think) Trade Card with a baseball theme.  Trade cards were given away in the mid to late nineteenth century to advertise products or services.  When color lithography became popular, these cards were printed in abundence.

The one I have is not really rare or even that hard to find, but it is a good example of a trade card from that era.  There were thousands of different subjects that would be pictured on trade cards and baseball was one of them. 

The game was starting to become more popular in the late 1800's and printers came up with some very nice designs and some very basic ones. 

Mine is quite simple really with only a couple of colors but some of them are very colorful and are great works of art. 

A few years ago, the US Post Office came out with a baseball themed stamp that was taken from a trade card.  I did a post about these when they came out because my wife bought me a sheet of the stamps. 

Here are a few images of other trade cards so you can get a better idea of the different styles.

This first one is the one the stamp was made from with images of the stamps next.

I really like these old trade cards and I think they are very undervalued at this time to be honest.  Some of them sell for hundreds of dollars but you can find some for less than twenty on eBay.

After all, these things are considered by many to be the first baseball cards.

Enjoy the hobby's an awesome one.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

1920 W520 Strip Cards

The 1920 W520 set is one of my favorite strip sets of the twenties.

I wanted to share my W520's with you so here is a little about the set and images of the cards I have so far. 

Strip cards were issued in strips of uncut cards on thick paper.  They were meant to be cut apart by the collector into individual cards and because of this they rarely get a numerical grade by a third party grader.  They are usually labelled as Authentic or Hand Cut. 

Also, due to the nature of being hand cut as opposed to being cut by a machine at the printers shop, they can come with some pretty terrible edges.  Many times you'll find them torn apart and not even cut with scissors. 

The W520 set has twenty cards in it with nineteen players (Zach Wheat is pictured twice).  The first ten cards are portraits (number 10, Benny Kauff, is actually a waist up shot of Benny holding a bat) while the second ten cards are all full body action shots.  The backgrounds are all solid colors.  One of the reasons I like the set so much is because of how colorful it is.  The cards look great all next to each other. 

Here are the cards that I have in the set.  Note that the Zach Wheat portrait is actually a W522.

The W522 set is the exact same set as the W520 except the card numbers start at 31 and go to 50 while the W520 set starts at 1 and goes to 20.  My Wheat is number 33 and is therefore a W522 instead of W520.  I picked it up as a place holder until I can find his matching W520. 

I don't see these cards come up for sale that often so I haven't added any to my collection in quite a while.  I keep my eyes out for them though.  If you have any you would like to sell, please let me know and we'll see if we can work it out. 

Here is a checklist of the W520 set along with the W522 checklist matched up to it.  I borrowed this from  I highly recommend the site, it's a great place for prewar card lovers.

Card # Player W522
Card #

1 Bancroft 40
2 Mathewson 39
3 Larry Doyle 38
4 Jess Barnes 37
5 Fletcher 36
6 Cooper 35
7 Gonzales (Gonzalez) 34
8 Zach Wheat 33
9 Tris Speaker 32
10 Benny Kauff 31
11 Zach Wheat 50
12 Phil Douglas 49
13 Babe Ruth 48
14 Koveleski (Coveleski) 47
15 Goldie Rapp 46
16 Pol Perritt 45
17 Otto Miller 44
18 George Kelly 43
19 Mike Gonzales (Gonzalez) 42
20 Les Nunamaker 41

Enjoy the hobby all...It's a fantastic one.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Two Cool Cobbs

Here we have two of my favorite Ty Cobb cards to talk about.

The first one is the 1909 E101 Anonymous "Set of 50".  The manufacturer is unknown as nothing is written on the card to tell us who produced the set.  This is one of Cobb's earliest cards and along with a few others it can be considered a rookie card for the Georgia Peach.
This is my favorite pose of all of Cobb's cards and it is shared in the E102 "Set of 25" and the E92 sets.  The E101 is my favorite of the three.  The E101 and the E102 can be called a rookie card.

Cobb was a powerhouse at the plate in 1909 leading in several batting categories such as batting average, hits, runs scored, total bases, home runs and RBIs.

This example (a PSA 2) sold at auction for $2,643.75.

As you can see from the back of the card, the writing ends with a comma as if businesses at the time were meant to finish the text with their own words and add their logo or business name at the bottom of the cards.  However, I have never seen an example of an E101 with the sentence completed or with a business added to the back. 
According to Peter Calderon's website,, (an excellent site for those of you just getting into caramel cards) E101's are not that difficult to come by in relation to other caramel sets. 


The next card I wanted to share with you is Ty's 1910 D380 Clement Bros. card.  This card is not seen very often.  All D380s are tough to come by as they are extremely rare.  This example sold at auction a few years ago for $17,400. 

They were regionally issued in the Rochester N.Y. area contributing to their rarity.  Personally, I like the set, even though it is a black and white set.  There are five Hall of Famers in this set including, Chief Bender, Ty Cobb, Eddie Collins, Addie Joss and Joe Tinker.  Several of the poses are the same as is used in the E90-1 set including this Cobb

There are two types of D380's.  The 1909 set has only eight players and they are all from the Rochester club.  They are all portraits in an oval frame with the player's name, position and team captioned at the bottom.  The 1910 set has twenty two players including both major leaguers and members of the Rochester club again and these are in rectangular frames like this Cobb example.  They also have the player's name, position and team in the caption at the bottom of the card.  The ad on the back of the cards is the same for both years. 
Many collectors have never seen this card due to it's rarity.  I hope you enjoyed seeing it if it's your first time. 

Enjoy the hobby's a great one.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Jersey City: Johnnie Butler

I just saw this 1909 D380 Clement Bros. card of Johnnie Butler and realized it was the same pose as his 1912 C46 card.

I collect Jersey City player's cards and thought this was great.  This D380 shows Butler in his Jersey City uniform but as a player listed as playing with the Rochester NY club.  He played with Jersey City before going to Rochester and then went back to Jersey City.

On his C46 card, the logo was removed and Jersey City was written across the front of his jersey in the same manner as all the other Jersey City players in the set.  Now the question I have to ask myself it, "Do I add this D380 to my Jersey City checklist?" 

Yes, I'll add this card to my checklist.  Even though he is listed as a player for Rochester, he is clearly wearing a jersey with the Jersey City logo on it.  And, since there aren't that many cards that I have been able to checklist so far, this one will most certainly be going on the list. 

It'll be near impossible for me to ever get this card since D380's are so rare to begin with, but hey, if I got lucky enough to get my T215 Red Cross Tobacco Purtell, then I can dream of owning this one too.  Now, if only I could find the Pirate back that I'm missing...

Enjoy the hobby's a great one.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Babe Ruth Rookie Cards

I'd like to profile a couple of Babe Ruth rookie cards here for a moment.

George Herman "Babe" Ruth has one of the greatest rookie cards ever.  His 1914 Baltimore News card is one of the holy grails of baseball cards.  It is extrememly rare with 11 (I think) known to exist which is far less that the T206 Honus Wagner. 

This card comes in either a red/white or blue/white combination.  This is Ruth's first card and pictures him with the Baltimore Orioles of the International League.  The card pictures Ruth as a pitcher right out of St. Mary's school long before he became the American icon he would later be.

The Baltimore News set consists of players from both of Baltimore's professional teams at the time, the Orioles of the International League and the Terrapins of the Federal League.

Not a lot of sets featured players from the Federal League.  The T213-2 Coupon set and the 1914 Cracker Jack set both do however.
This blue example was the 10th known example to the hobby back in 2007 and sold for $199,750 at the time.  The red example was the 11th known example back in 2008 and sold for $517,000.  A record price for the card putting it above several T206 Wagners. 


The second rookie card I'd like to mention is the 1916 M101-4 and M101-5 Sporting News cards.  The M101-5 set was originally believed to have been issued in 1915, but this was later challenged and both sets are now known to have been issued in 1916 with the M101-5 being the earlier of the two issued.

Both sets feature the same image of Ruth and the same number, so the only way to know for sure which it is, is from the back of the card. 

They were issued with blank backs and then advertisers would print their ads on them and distribute them to people.  To date, there are 18 different brands known to advertise on the backs with a few variations of some of them.  Some of the backs are known to have been issued in the M101-5 series only and are therefore more sought after when seeking a Ruth example as this was issued before the M101-4 series. 

This is The Babe's first card as a major leaguer and is therefore also his rookie, even though the Baltimore News card came out a couple of years ealier.  If features Ruth as a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. 

Enjoy the hobby's a great one.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Recent Pick Up : T205 Al Bridwell

This knocks another card off my T205 NY Giants want list.

I've been slowly picking away at my T205 NY Giants collection and picked up another one a little while back.  Figured I would share it with you.  It's not in the best shape as you can see, but then again that doesn't really matter to me.  I'm not too concerned with condition as long as it's somewhat presentable.  When I finally have the entire team set I'll get them all framed with a nice little plaque labelling it. 

I've got six cards now: Bridwell, Devore, McGraw, Schlei, Snodgrass and Wiltse (both ears).

I will get both Wiltse cards but I'm not too concerned with getting both of the Otis Crandalls (T crossed and T not crossed) or both Arlie Lathams (W.A. and A. on back) as they are really the same card from the front.  I may decide to get both Crandalls if they both become available for reasonable prices during my quest however. 

Here's a look at my NY Giants set so far.

Enjoy the hobby's a cool one.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Things You Should Know: 1893 Just So Buck Ewing

Here is one of 19th Century baseball cards' holy grails.  The 1893 Just So Tobacco William "Buck" Ewing.

Buck Ewing was the first catcher elected to the Hall of Fame in 1939.  He was a career .311 hitter and hit over .300 in 10 of his 15 years in the major leagues. 

The 1893 Just So set is extremely rare with most examples, including all four HOFers, known with only a single example.  This card was originally discovered back in the 1990's when a gentleman in PA was remodeling his mother's bathroom.  Behind a wall he discovered the card nailed to a stud and it was covered in black staining from smoke that escaped into the space from the chimney.  Not until 2009 was the card brought to the hobby however and was included in the 2010 Robert Edward Auction. 
For many years collectors speculated whether or not an example of Ewing was even issued in the set that includes only Cleveland Spiders.  Why, they wondered, would they not produce a card of the superstar Spider Ewing?  But until it was brought to the hobby, no one had ever seen one. 

I knew of the speculation before the card surfaced, so when I saw it in the auction even I was amazed.  It's one of my favorite cards for the sake of the story behind it, the mystery of it's existence and the circumstances of it's discovery. 

It became the 16th card in the set's checklist when it was unveiled.  Just So's are made of heavy blank back paper and are about 2 1/2" x 3 7/8" in size.  The other three HOFers in the set include Jesse Burkett, John Clarkson and Cy Young. 

This is one card you should know about, even if you don't collect 19th Century cards. 

Enjoy the hobby's a wonderful one.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Recent Pick Ups - '66 Topps

I'm working on several postwar sets and trying to get into trading with other collectors while pursuing them. 

In the last month I've picked up a several new 1966 Topps and wanted to just show a few of the highlights of my recent pickups. 

I was very happy to get these key cards out of the way early on in my quest for this set.  I've had the Mickey Mantle for years already.  While picking up small lots of cards I'm also looking out for the other key cards.  I still need the Willie Mays, Pete Rose, Gaylord Perry and Sandy Koufax, but those won't be too difficult to pick up.  Well, the Perry might be a little harder to come by as it's a SP high number and the last card in the set.

I'm looking for these cards in collector grade so that keeps the price down which works or me.  If you can help me out let me know.  You can see my wantlists if you click the link in the right sidebar of my blog near the top. 

Enjoy the hobby's a great one.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Stamped Back T206s

I'm not sure how many of you know I'm fascinated with T206s that have stamps on the back, but I just saw two new examples and one of them is awesome.

The first one is a fairly normal one with possibly an old collector's initials, "SM".  I've seen a lot of cards with similar stamps of various initials so this one isn't really groundbreaking.

But the second one shows examples of three distinct stamps that I've seen on other cards by themselves, but never on the same card. And in addition to these three there are also two letters, again possibly initials of a collector from long ago, "EH".

This is the one I think is awesome.  I'm so bummed that I didn't see these fast enough to buy them when they were for sale, I would have at least taken this second one.  I just love backstamped T206s.

Anyways, I know there isn't a lot of other like me that get excited about these things, but I still wanted to share these with you.

Enjoy the hobby's a great one.

Things You Should Know: 1911 T205 Addie Joss

Many collectors are unaware that the 1911 T205 Addie Joss is a memorial card of this great HOF pitcher.

Not only is the T205 Adrian "Addie" Joss a key Hall of Famer and one of the rarer cards in the set (both of which add tremendously to it's desirability), but it was treated as a memorial to this pitching great.

Addie passed away from meningitis on April 14, 1911 ending a fantastic career at age 31.  He tossed a perfect game against Ed Walsh, another Hall of Fame pitcher, on October 2, 1908 and another no-hitter in 1910.  He hurled for 9 years for the Cleveland Blues and Naps (affectionately nick-named after Napoleon Lajoie) and never had a losing season.  He won 20 or more games four years in a row for them and 45 of his 160 wins were shut outs. 

He was a right handed pitcher who would twist himself entirely around with is back facing the batter before coming around and tossing a side arm delivery to the plate.  This was confusing to hitters and won him a career 1.89 ERA. 

He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1978. 

The reverse of this card reads as follows:

“Addie” Joss, whose death in 1911 was a great loss to his team and to the national game, was a native of Cleveland, and had always played with the team from that city. His best year was 1908, when he won 24 games out of 35, and put the Naps within half a point of the pennant. On October 2 of that year he pitched a game against Chicago, when no player of the White Sox reached first.
He was a faithful player, liked by his team mates and respected by the public, many thousands of whom attended his funeral.

This is certainly one of my favorite of all the T205's and one card I hope to own at some point. 

Enojoy the hobby's a wonderful one.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

2011 Topps Kimball Champions

Yes they are modern and not what you would expect to find on my blog, but they are based on the 1888 N184 Kimball Champions.

I think these are pretty cool and I'm currently working on the 150 card set.  They do have several prewar stars including Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson and Tris Speaker.  But they also have modern stars like Stephen Strasburg.  Players like Roy Campenella and Mike Schmidt are also included.  So you really have a wide range of stars to pick up in this set. 

They were issued in three series of 50 cards in each series.  I'll be adding these to my postwar trading site soon so if you have any to trade please let me know.

If you haven't seen these yet, I highly recommend them to you.  Even if you focus on the prewar or vintage stuff.  These are really nice cards.  The artwork is fantastic too. 

Enjoy the hobby's a great one.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Things You Should Know: Cracker Jack Matty

Here's another short post about something you should know if you're going to be in the vintage card hobby.

The Cracker Jack sets of 1914 and 1915 (E-145) are some of the nicest sets of the era.  The 1914 cards were only available in packages of Cracker Jack and therefore they generally all come with some sort of candy staining on them and that keeps their grades down most of the time.  A lot of collectors prefer to focus on the 1915 set both for it's availability as well as it's condition.

The 1915 set was available both in packages of the popcorn confection and from a mail in offer where a person could acquire the entire set in one shot.  And that set didn't suffer any candy staining as the cards were never included in packages.  Hence the much nicer examples from 1915 over their 1914 counterparts.  And since most of the images used between the two sets are the same from one year to the next, it's not a lot different if you had to choose just one year to go after. 

One thing to know about Cracker Jacks is how to tell the two different years apart easily.  The backs of the 1915 set were printed upside down if you flip the cards over.  This way, if the cards were mounted into an album (of which one was produced for the 1915 release) with a flip mount at the tops of the cards, then when you flipped the card up to see the back, you would be able to read the print. 

Image Courtesy Robert Edward Auctions

Well the most important card in the entire series can easily be argued to be the 1914 Christy Mathewson.  It is extremely rare and because the 1915 Matty uses a different portrait image, the only way to get the horizontal throwing pose is to find a 1914 example.  The pictured example sold in a Robert Edwards Auction for $40,600.00.  It is one of the finest examples known to exist, as you can see it has minimum candy staining on it. 

Enjoy the hobby's a wonderful one.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

N172 Brooklyn Minis

Some of my favorite cards are the 1887 N172 Old Judge Brooklyn Minis.

Goodwin and Company began to issue the largest set of baseball cards ever offered at the time when they began to put cards in their Old Judge cigarette packs in the fall of 1886.  They continued to issue more and more cards including players, managers, umpires, mascots and an owner into 1890.  Many of the cards were the same pose with a team change following trades.  In addition, some players had many different poses and some had just a few.  In total almost 2500 different poses/variations are known with 521 different subjects. 

I'd like to focus on the just the Brooklyn Minis right now though.  There are 48 regular Brooklyn poses known which accounts for 2 full sheets.  So we can assume there can not be more than this amount of minis, however, to date there have been less than half of this number verified.  In fact, Brooklyn Minis are quite rare and desirable to Old Judge collectors. 

What is a Brooklyn Mini anyway?  It is a normal sized Old Judge card with the image of the player cropped smaller and having a much larger border around the image.  To understand how they were created we have to look at the production of the Old Judge cards themselves. 

Goodwin took cabinet photos of the players and cropped them down to a smaller size (still larger than the cards) and placed them in a grid of four rows with six cards in each row.  Then they added a mat (a die-cut board which framed the images) to the grid and placed the name plates, Old Judge banner ads, and copyright lines to the images.  From there, they would take another photo of the entire grid and when they delevoped that photo, they had an uncut sheet of cards.  When you look at a normal 1887 N172 you can see the shadows under the mat that was added to the grid (see image).

How does this relate to Brooklyn Minis?  Well, all Old Judge cards depicted players that were photographed in a studio in front of a background.  However, the photographer taking the Brooklyn photos took the photos outside and, when he did so, he took them from a farther distance away from the player than those taken in studio settings.  So, when Goodwin was preparing the grid for the Brooklyn cards, they decided to crop the photos a little tigher than the rest of the cards so the players would still be the same size on the finished card.  Then they took the photo of the completed grid at a closer distance to create the same size uncut sheet as the non-Brooklyn sheets. 

By doing this, they could create normal looking Brooklyn cards.  The differences were that the Old Judge banner ad and the name plates appeared larger on the Brooklyn cards because they were being photographed from closer than on the other cards.  The copyright line looked about the same because they used a smaller copyright cutout. 

Well this explains how we have normal sized Brooklyn cards in the set.  How did we end up with minis though?  Goodwin didn't always print sheets in just team composites.  They often printed sheets with players from different teams also.  So whenever they printed a sheet that included some Brooklyn players among others, the smaller cropped Brooklyn images ended up being photographed from farther away and ended up smaller on the cards.  Goodwin even added a second mat to gap the space between the smaller image and the larger mat used for the other players.  You can see four Brooklyn Minis in the sheet above as the first four cards in the top row.  Notice the larger borders around the image, the outside backgrounds, the shadows of the second mat around the images and the smaller player size in relation to the other cards on the sheet. 

Hopefully all of this makes sense the way I've written it.  There is a wonderful article written by Jay Miller and Joe Gonsowski about this all in issue #3 of Old Cardboard magazine.  It goes into more detail than I have here and I highly recommend it.

Enjoy the hobby's a super one.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

1914 B18 Blankets

The 1914 B18 Blanket set is an interesting one for several reasons.

First, they aren't cards but are instead squares of felt.  The measure about 5 1/2 inches on each side with a picture of the player surrounded by an infield and two pennants.  There are 91 felts in the set, not including all the different color variations, from 10 major league teams.  They can have different basepaths, bases, pennants or even infield colors. 

They were packaged with packs of Egyptienne Straights Cigarettes and were folded in half twice, placed in an envelope and attached to the packs using an adhesive strip.  Sometimes you will find some remnants of the adhesive strip still attached to the blankets.  Packs of Egyptienne Straights were square in shape, so folding the blanket in this way made them fit with the packages. 

The blankets are also often found sewn together into quilts or perhaps pillow cases as was normal for this type of give away back then.  Some collectors have taken quilts apart to sell off the individual squares and you will find some of them that have the holes in the borders from being sewn together. 

The most difficult ones to find, and the most expensive, are the ones with red infields.  These are extremely rare and do not show up often.  Only Boston and Detroit players are found with the red infields by the way.  The Ty Cobb red infield version is, of course, the best blanket in the set.

I was lucky enough to find my two blankets in an antique mall outside of Denver, CO years ago.  They were pinned together in the bottom shelf of a cabinet display for only $10 for the pair.  I snatched them up right away.  Here are my two.

Enjoy the hobby all...It's a fantastic one.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Just a Few Cool Cards to Share

I just wanted to do a quick post sharing a few cards I think are pretty cool.

I wanted to include at least one card from my collection so let's start with this 1949 Remar Billy Martin.  It shows a very young Billy Martin playing for the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League before he became a legend of the major leagues.

These next two are truly amazing cards.  They are the 1934 and 1935 Zeenut cards of Joe DiMaggio.  The 1934 is the first card that pictured Joe and he is playing for the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League.  Both of these examples have their coupon still intact at the bottom of the card which is quite rare for this issue.  They both sold at auction for over $14K each.

The batting pose is the 1934 issue and the throwing pose is the 1935 issue.

The last card I wanted to share is just hilarious.  It's the 1887 N172 Old Judge card of Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn.  Specifically the pose where he is flipping us the bird.  Check it out, he calmly throws the finger out before the picture is snapped and we have ourselves one awesome card. 

For those of you who aren't familiar with Old Hoss he was regarded as one of the best pitchers of his time.  He pitched underhand, as was customary back then, and he would pitch using different arm angles for his deliveries.  He was one of the first to do this on a regular basis to try to fool batters.  He also hit the first walk-off home run in major league history in an eighteen inning 1-0 game in 1882.  He was elected into The Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939.

Well, that's it for now.  I just wanted to share these with you in case you had never seen them before.  Hopefully you liked them.

Enjoy the hobby's an awesome one.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Merkle Ball

I have wanted to do this post for the past couple of years ever since REA had this ball in their 2010 Auction.

This ball was part of one of my favorite plays in all of baseball; The Merkle Boner Play.

Image Courtesy REA
It was September 23, 1908 when the Cubs were playing the Giants at the Polo Grounds.  Jack Pfiester was facing Christy Mathewson in a great pitcher's duel and the score was tied 1-1 going into the bottom of the ninth.  Fred Tenney had a bad back that day and John McGraw put in a 19 year old kid named Fred Merkle.  It was the first game Merkle had started all season and would be a game he would never forget. 
Image Courtesy REA

With Moose McCormick on first base, Merkle came to the plate and hit a two out single to right field sending McCormick to third.  Al Bridwell stepped to the plate with the winning run on third and Merkle on first.  He swung at the first pitch he was offered and sent a line drive to center for a base hit and McCormick came home with the winning run. 

Image Courtesy
The crowd went crazy and started to flood onto the field as was usual back then.  Here is where Fred Merkle made his mistake.  He headed for the clubhouse after the hit by Bridwell and failed to touch second base.  Johnny Evers of the Cubs got the ball and forced him out at second base.  Now the crowd was already all over the place and the umps, Hank O'Day and Bob Emslie, ruled Merkle out and the game a tie. 
Now, because they tied this game, they ended the season tied for first and had to play a make up game to decide the pennant at the end of the season.  The Giants lost the make up game and subsequently the pennant.  Merkle was blamed and he never lived it down.

The ball that Evers held in his hand on that very play is the ball that was auctioned off in the 2010 Robert Edwards Auction.  It sold for $76,375.00.  This is a Hall of Fame caliber artifact and an amazing piece of baseball history.  To see it at auction was amazing to me and I will never forget when I first saw it in the catalog.  I was floored.

Here is a link to the full story from the REA website: Full Story

Enjoy the hobby all...It's a great one.