1878-1882 H820 Bufford Lithos Sports Cards Set and Checklist

‘It’s In The Details’

Title H820 Bufford Lithos Sports Cards
Year 1878-1882 (unconfirmed)
Size 2 5/8″ x 4 1/2″
Images Color
Type Trade
Number in Set

H820 Bufford Lithos Sports Cards Overview


The H820 Bufford Lithos Sports Cards set is one of the few pre-war hockey-related issues classified in Jefferson Burdick’s American Card Catalog.

Burdick classified the set as H820 but didn’t give much more information than that. He indicated the size was 3 1/2″ x 5″, but that has since been proven to be incorrect as the cards are significantly smaller than that. It is possible, of course, that he found a larger example but these generally measure much closer to 2 5/8″ tall x 4 1/2″ long and they are all horizontal pictures.

The cards are trade cards used by advertisers to promote their business. Because of that, you will see these issues with various advertiser names printed on them. Some are blank, meaning they may not were used or distributed. After all, what is the point of promoting your business with the cards if there isn’t any information about your company on them?

Six cards are included in the set and they featured a variety of winter-related scenes. Two depicted the sport of hockey and are generally more desirable among collectors. Other ‘sports’ shown are ice skating and sled riding. Two cards depicting ice boat regatta and a snow ball fight can be classified as non-sports issues.

Captions on the cards were printed on some while others did not have them. When printed, these captions are found in small black lettering at the bottom of the images. other slight variations exist, including the printing/absence of a plate number.

The exact date of the cards is unknown and, in reality, they could have been printed overa  period of several years. Most commonly, they are advertised as being from the late 1870s and early 1880s.

As trade cards, these were printed on thin paper stock and not cardboard. They were printed in color but didn’t use much more than black ink and light shades of blue and brown. Slight color variations are known to exist on the cards as well.

Collectors should note that a similar-looking series, Bufford’s Sleighing Cards, was also produced around the same time. They can be confused as being as a part of this set because they have a similar design/layout/color scheme, but are in fact a separate issue.

Roller Skating vs. Ice Hockey

One misconception about the cards from some collectors is that they depict roller skating instead of ice hockey. That is because some, as the card I’ve shown above, included advertisements for roller skating rinks.

However, the cards are surely depicting the sport of hockey, as indicated particularly in the title of the card, ‘Hockey on the Ice.’ The roller skating advertisements on the hockey cards is merely a coincidence with those advertisers printing its ads on that specific card.

H820 Bufford Lithos Sports Cards Checklist

  1. Clear the Track
  2. First Attempt
  3. Hockey on the Ice (Hockey)
  4. Ice Boat Regatta
  5. Race for the Cup (Hockey)
  6. Snow Ball Match

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