1893 Arbuckle Coffee Sports and Pastimes Set (K4)

‘It’s In The Details’

Title K4 Arbuckles Coffee Sports and Pastimes of Nations / World
Year 1893
Size 3″ x 5″ (card size)
Images Color
Type Coffee
Number in Set

1893 K4 Arbuckles Coffee Sports and Pastimes of Nations / World Overview

Arbuckle.jpgThe 1893 Arbuckles Coffee Sports and Pastimes of Nations / World set features 50 different cards reviewing sports in 50 different countries/areas. As a coffee issue, the set is catalogued as K4 in the American Card Catalog and called ‘History of Sports and Pastimes of the World.’ Today, some refer to this set as ‘Sports and Pastimes of Nations.’ ‘The World’ is more appropriate because a few of the cards do not depict nations.

There were many international issues that took similar approaches, highlighting sports around the globe. This set is a little unique in that each card includes several sports and pastimes instead of only one, which was often the case in other sets.

The set is highlighted by the United States card, which appears as Card No. 1. The card is key to the set and draws a lot of domestic interest not only because it is the United States, but also because the sport of baseball is included on it. The other sports/pastimes depicted on this card are fishing, yachting, the circus, cycling, and photography. Canoeing is also mentioned on the back but is not depicted in the artwork.

Cards feature the various sports in color photographs on front and the backs have a description of those in addition to an ad for Arbuckles Bros. Coffee, which was based out of New York. The front also contains the name of the country in one corner and the copyrighted date of 1893 in another. The cards are oversized and printed on a thin paper-type of cardstock with a slight gloss. Most were printed with a horizontal layout, but some are vertical.

1893 K4 Arbuckle Tennis1893 K4 Arbuckle Ireland Boxing.jpgNo other sports from the big four (baseball, basketball, football, hockey) are included in the set, but there are plenty of other popular sports here. A few are boxing (Ireland) and tennis (France). Some subjects are repeated in different countries. For example, both the United States and Norway feature fishing. A few countries are also represented more than once. There is, for example, a France and Medieval France card.

Here’s a look at the most popular sports cards in the set.

Because of the thinner stock, the cards are often found with some sort of damage. Even rips and small tears aren’t really uncommon. The stock of the card makes it difficult to find them in high grade condition.

Note that card No. 24 can be found with both Greenland and Alaska. Because of that, there are technically 51 different cards in the set. The Alaska version of No. 24 is easier to find and the Greenland copy is significantly more scarce. Both pictures are the same and the only difference is the replacement of names. As this Arbuckles site suggests, Greenland may have been a replacement that came after Alaska as it is squeezed into the space occupied by the smaller ‘Alaska’ on the back.

Differing Sponsors

While most of these cards found are the Arbuckles versions, the set was also distributed by several other companies, as noted here. These companies used the same images but had different characteristics, such as their name added and/or their own advertisement in place of the Arbuckles ad. In all, at least 20 other types of sets are known other than Arbuckles. While exact production dates for them are not widely known, they are believed to have come after the Arbuckles cards.

One of the more common ones was Holloway’s. Holloway’s was a brand of medicinal and drug products. The cards from the two sets used the exact same pictures/fronts with a minor difference in that the Holloway name is printed along the bottom.

Backs are significantly different, however. While the description of the sports/countries on the right is the same, the portion to the left is different. Arbuckles cards have an advertisement for their coffee on the left while Holloway cards have an ad for their products instead.

It is important to note the classification of these cards, too. Arbuckles was a coffee brand and, thus, their cards were categorized as a K-Card (specifically, K4) in the American Card Catalog. But for Holloway (and others, for that matter, if they are not coffee issues), the cards should either be identified as a trade card or another classification instead.

Even though the Holloway cards are among the more common of the ‘other’ variations, compared to the Arbuckles cards, they are quite tough to find. I haven’t exactly been bending over backwards to find them but I do see the Arbuckles cards much more frequently by comparison. Savvy collectors understanding their rarity may ask for more for them. However, a large difference in terms of asking prices is not usually seen, simply because few would know what they are.

Copyright Variations

1893 Arbuckles Sports Pastimes Copyright VariationCopyright variations exist for the cards, too.

How many is unclear, but I have noted the one for cards for Norway. Cropped and blown up versions for both cards are shown here.

The card on the left has text that reads ‘Painting copyrighted 1893 Arbuckle Bros.’ The card on the right has that text slightly altered, reading, ‘Copyright, 1893 by Arbuckle Bros N.Y.’

In checking a few dozen of other cards in the set, the first version ‘Painting copyrighted’ is easily the more common of the two. But the second style was seen on other cards, too, and it is likely that the variation can be found on others.

While some collectors may be interested in these premiums are apparently not paid for them. In fact, I have not even seen these variances discussed elsewhere.

1893 K4 Arbuckles Coffee Sports and Pastimes of Nations / World Checklist

  1. United States (with baseball)
  2. England
  3. Scotland
  4. Ireland
  5. Wales
  6. France
  7. Germany
  8. Holland
  9. Switzerland
  10. Spain
  11. Portugal
  12. Italy
  13. Russia
  14. Denmark
  15. Norway
  16. Sweden
  17. Assyria
  18. Tyrol
  19. Poland
  20. Gypsy
  21. Austria
  22. American Indians
  23. Canada
  24. Greenland (also Alaska)
  25. Brazil
  26. Chile
  27. Hawaii
  28. Patagonia
  29. Cuba
  30. Mexico
  31. Central Africa
  32. Australia
  33. India
  34. Japan
  35. Persia
  36. China
  37. Turkey
  38. Arabia
  39. Tibet
  40. Esquimau
  41. Algeria
  42. Pompeii
  43. Anglo Saxon
  44. Greece
  45. Egypt
  46. Rome
  47. Judea
  48. American Negroes
  49. Medieval France
  50. Lapland

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