1931 Blue Ribbon Malt Cubs and White Sox Set and Checklist
‘It’s In The Details’
|Title||Blue Ribbon Malt Cubs and White Sox
|Size||5″ x 7″
|Images||Black and White
|Number in Set
1931 Blue Ribbon Malt Cubs and White Sox Overview
The 1931 Blue Ribbon Malt set included black and white premium photos that were mailed to consumers. The pictures included players from the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox, but as evidenced by this Heritage Auction, also some non-sports personalities, too. Blue Ribbon Malt was a product of the Decatur Brewing Company, which later merged with popular brand Pabst.
The fronts included the player image and replica signature. At the bottom, the text, ‘Compliments of Blue Ribbon Malt – America’s Biggest Seller’ was printed.
Interestingly enough, there’s a great backstory behind it. Blue Ribbon Malt was not being made by Pabst, the brewer associated with that name. Instead, it was being issued by another brewer, the Decatur Brewing Company, hoping to capitalize on the Pabst ‘Blue Ribbon’ brand name.
During Prohibition, breweries could not sell alcohol but they could sell the ingredients used to make them. As a result, several sold these types of ingredients and associated products, including malt. The problem is that Decatur had already been producing the product before Prohibition and, when Pabst wanted to do that with the Blue Ribbon name after Prohibition went into effect, they sued for rights to the name, ultimately losing. But it didn’t matter much as Pabst and Blue Ribbon ultimately merged shortly after that, anyway.
These are often confused with Blue Ribbon Malt’s 1930 issue. Those, however, did not have the text printed at the bottom.
Unlike that 1930 set, which has a large checklist of more than 50 photos, the 1931 set has only three known ones. The set could have simply been smaller but a more likely scenario is that they were printed in fewer quantities. My guess is that others were likely created. Simply put, the 1931 premiums are much more difficult to find than the 1930 edition.
While rare, the original envelopes are sometimes found for these. The envelopes are typically light brown, have the Blue Ribbon Malt name/address, and advertise a CBS radio show featuring ‘The Blue Ribbon Malt Jester,’ Richy Craig, Jr. Craig actually died shortly after the production of this set, passing away at the age of 31 in 1933 due to a weakened heart. According to IMDB, his parents were also entertainers.
The Blue Ribbon Malt envelopes are rare and desired as companion pieces.
1931 Blue Ribbon Malt Cubs and White Sox Checklist
The checklist to date includes only a few known subjects. More potentially exist. Other checklists show more cards (this one and many others say there are seven cards, including Lu Blue, Lew Fonseca, Vic Frazier, and Billy Sullivan), but these are the baseball players I’ve verified to date.
Of note is that a photo exists of radio personality and musician Ben Bernie. Blue Ribbon Malt actually sponsored his radio broadcasts and that is likely the reason he has a premium photo. Some collectors may or may not consider this to be part of the Cubs/White Sox set.
- Ben Bernie
- Johnny Kerr
- Bobby Smith
- Hack Wilson