‘It’s In The Details’
|Title||1887-1888 Gypsy Queen California League (Greenhood & Moran)
|Type||19th Century Tobacco
|Number in Set
1887-1888 Gypsy Queen California League (Greenhood & Moran) Overview
The Gypsy Queen California League cards are perhaps the rarest minor league issue of all. Not only is a single card publicly confirmed to be in the set, but the exact date is still up for interpretation.
The first (and perhaps, only) card from this set surfaced in a 2001 Barry Sloate auction. It features a player by the name of James McDonald, who is believed to have played for a team called Greenhood and Moran. That team was sponsored by the owners of a clothing store in Oakland, Jacob Greenhood and James Moran. The card sold for just over $80,000 and, to date, it remains the only bonafide, fully confirmed card in the set.
While the McDonald card is the only confirmed card here, however, two others look like good candidates. This Net54 thread contains two more cards of players that could be in the same set (pictures of all three cards can be seen there). Many collectors would even say they are likely fits. Both Monte Clements and John Donovan have cards with the same outfits as McDonald does and the design of the cards is exactly the same. They, too, are depicted as members of Greenhood and Moran. The only reason we cannot be 100% sure they are in the same exact set is because the Gypsy Queen Cigarettes label does not appear at the bottom since it was apparently trimmed off.
The cards have a slightly different layout than most N172 Old Judge cards but have the same basic look – a sepia style picture pasted to a piece of cardboard.
When it comes to dating these cards, they appear to be from the late 1880s. They are often referred to as an 1888 issue but the 1888 Greenhood and Moran team roster did not include them, as stated in that earlier N54 thread. Assuming that Clements and Donovan are part of the set, that would seem to suggest a time close to 1888, but not that exact year.
Finally, it should also be noted that while three cards potentially exist in the set, all three are from the Greenhood and Moran team. With no other cards from the set having been discovered, it is possible this was only a team set.
How or why the cards were distributed is completely unknown. It is also possible that, given the low quantity found, they were not even intended for distribution.
1887-1888 Gypsy Queen California League (Greenhood & Moran) Checklist
Due to the similar design of the Clements and Donovan cards, I have included them in the set checklist below.
- Monte Clements
- John Donovan
- James McDonald