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.

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