1909-11 American Caramel (E90-1) Set

‘It’s In The Details’

Title E90-1 American Caramel
Year 1909-11
Size 1 1/2″ x 2 3/4″
Images Color
Type Candy/Caramel
Number in Set
122

E90-1 American Caramel Overview

E90-1 American Caramel Honus WagnerThe E90 American Caramel sets (there are three) are among the most popular candy issues. In particular, the E90-1 set is close to the top when it comes to most widely collected candy cards.

Cards were manufactured by the American Caramel Company, which went on to produce numerous other baseball card sets. Two other sets, E90-2 and E90-3 were also created by the company. Those sets are much shorter, however, and only focused on specific teams.

The cards are known for their sharp colors and, in some cases, have cards with bold, colorful sunsets. Even the types of sunsets are distinctive and varied. They are pretty typical of caramel cards of the era. They measure slightly bigger than tobacco cards and are a little thicker than others as well.

The set has color artwork of players in a variety of poses. Most of the cards were produced with a vertical layout but five have a horizontal design. Their names, positions, and teams are printed at the bottom and, like most other cards of that era, have white borders. They have a fairly basic type on the front, including a player’s name, position, and team. However, the formatting is quite inconsistent and all over the place.

This is a difficult set to complete for a variety of reasons, including short prints. Why is it so hard despite being one of the more common caramel sets? Here are a few reasons.

Joe Jackson Rookie and Others

E90-1 055 JacksonIn all, 122 different cards are included in the E90-1 set. While there are numerous Hall of Famers found in this issue, the Joe Jackson card is easily the most desirable in the set. Even in poor condition, it usually fetches more than $10,000. While he has a minor league card in the 1910 Old Mill (T210) set, the E90-1 American Caramel issue is considered by most to be his rookie card.

The Jackson rookie, unfortunately, isn’t a great card from an aesthetics vantage point. The picture really doesn’t look like him and, as some other pre-war cards did (such as the horrifying W9316 strip card set), Jackson’s lips have a red look making it appear as if he was wearing lipstick.

The card continues to grow in popularity and in 2016, one sold for more than $650,000.

And interestingly enough, while the Jackson is one of the most popular pre-war cards of all-time, a strange punctuation mark is featured on it.

His card, along with the numerous tough issues (such as Mike Mitchell) make this an incredibly difficult set to complete even with a reasonable checklist number. Beyond the Hall of Famers and stars, a decent part of the set is comprised of harder to find commons. The cards are colorful in nature and feature players in a variety of poses.

While many of the players are very well known, the set includes some obscure ones, too. The inclusion of some, even, doesn’t seem to make much sense. Johnny Siegle, for instance, is included in the set and shown as a Cincinnati Reds player, even though he last played for the team in 1906, three years before this set was believed to have been issued. I take a closer look at that topic here.

Variations

Card and pose variations are not extremely numerous. However, several players do have variations in the set with some being more valuable than others. Here’s a closer look at the variations and their rarity.

Several players have cards with variations. Honus Wagner and Cy Young have the most valuable ones with different poses — Wagner has a batting and throwing card while Young has a portrait and action card. The Wagner throwing variation is one of the toughest and most valuable cards in the set.

Hall of Famer Willie Keeler, for example, has three cards – one portrait with a red background, one portrait with a pink background, and one featuring him batting. The pink background is considered a true variation and is listed as a separate card on most checklists.

Errors

Fred Clarke E90-1 American Caramel PittsburghSpeaking of Keeler, a recent error card of his pink background card was found with a missing period. While it is a different card than his more common ‘period’ version, it is an error as opposed to a variation.

The most famous error in the set is one for Hall of Famer Fred Clarke. Most of Clarke’s cards state that he is a member of the Philadelphia Phillies when, in fact, he never played for that team. A corrected card was made available with Clarke’s Pittsburgh team printed at the bottom instead over top of the Philadelphia name.

Shown here is a picture of the corrected card. Traces of the Phila. name are left in the background.

As I cover here, the corrected Pittsburgh card is much rarer and more valuable.

‘Set of 100’?

e90-back

One of the great mysteries of the E90-1 set is the backs. Those mention 100 cards in the set but there are, in fact, 122 that have been discovered. It’s a problem that’s stumped card collectors for decades.

There are ways to get closer to 100 cards. If you discount all of the variations, you find a set of 108 cards. If you attribute some confusion on the part of the company and take out every player with the same last name as a previous player (i.e. Mordecai Brown/Buster Brown), that gets you to 102. But it’s difficult to find a definitive path to 100.

The most likely explanation is that since the cards were printed over a variety of years, the company simply exceeded the 100-card count and just stuck with the same backs. Considering the company used the same 100-card count back in their E90-2 set despite that set containing only 11 cards is pretty good evidence that they weren’t terribly concerned with the accuracy of that print. Instead of trying to come up with a path to figure out where the 100 number came from, a more logical approach is to simply accept that the company printed more cards than they likely anticipated.

Here’s a little more discussion on the 100-subject mention on the backs.

Dots Miller Sunset Newest Variation

Dots Miller E90-1 American Caramel SunsetDots Miller E90-1 American CaramelWhile 120 cards are most generally listed for this set, 122 is actually the correct number. In addition to the aforementioned Keeler error, a new discovery a few years ago upped the total by one.

Dots Miller has a card in the set both with a plain yellow background and another with a red sunset-like marking against the yellow. It is generally considered as the ‘sunset’ variation because many of the cards in the set have similar colorful sunset additions to the background.

How many of the sunset variations exist in comparison to the standard yellow-background variation is unknown. That is because the variation was not tracked until only recently. But the sunset cards do seem to be a little rarer.

Finally, it should be pointed out that this same card is in a few other caramel card sets. Those sets mostly, if not entirely, have the sunset background.

Here’s more on the newly-discovered Miller card.

E90-1 American Caramel Checklist

Below is a complete checklist for the set.

  1. Bill Bailey
  2. Home Run Baker
  3. Jack Barry
  4. George Bell
  5. Harry Bemis
  6. Chief Bender
  7. Bob Bescher
  8. Cliff Blankenship
  9. John Bliss
  10. Bill Bradley
  11. Kitty Bransfield (P on shirt)
  12. Kitty Bransfield (No P)
  13. Roger Bresnahan
  14. Al Bridwell
  15. Buster Brown
  16. Mordecai Brown
  17. Donie Bush
  18. John Butler
  19. Howie Camnitz
  20. Frank Chance
  21. Hal Chase
  22. Fred Clarke (Philadelphia)
  23. Fred Clarke (Pittsburgh)
  24. Wally Clement
  25. Ty Cobb
  26. Eddie Collins
  27. Frank Corridon
  28. Sam Crawford
  29. Lou Criger
  30. George Davis
  31. Harry Davis
  32. Ray Demit
  33. Mike Donlin
  34. Bill Donovan
  35. Red Dooin
  36. Patsy Dougherty
  37. Hugh Duffy
  38. Jimmy Dygert
  39. Rube Ellis
  40. Clyde Engle
  41. Art Fromme
  42. George Gibson (back view)
  43. George Gibson (front view)
  44. Peaches Graham
  45. Eddie Grant
  46. Dolly Gray
  47. Bob Groom
  48. Charley Hall
  49. Roy Hartzell (Batting)
  50. Roy Hartzell (Fielding)
  51. Heinie Heitmuller
  52. Harry Howell (Follow Through)
  53. Harry Howell (Windup)
  54. Tex Irwin
  55. Frank Isbell
  56. Joe Jackson
  57. Hughie Jennings
  58. Buck Jordon/Jordan
  59. Addie Joss (Pitching)
  60. Addie Joss (Portrait)
  61. Ed Karger
  62. Willie Keeler (Pink Background – No Period)
  63. Willie Keeler (Pink Background – With Period)
  64. Willie Keeler (Red Background)
  65. Willie Keeler (Throwing)
  66. John Knight
  67. Harry Krause
  68. Nap Lajoie
  69. Tommy Leach (Batting)
  70. Tommy Leach (Throwing)
  71. Sam Leever
  72. Hans Lobert
  73. Harry Lumley
  74. Rube Marquard
  75. Christy Mathewson
  76. Stuffy McInnes/McInnis
  77. Harry McIntyre
  78. Larry McLean
  79. George McQuillan
  80. Dots Miller (No Sunset)
  81. Dots Miller (With Sunset)
  82. Fred Mitchell
  83. Mike Mitchell
  84. George Mullin
  85. Rebel Oakes
  86. Paddy O’Connor
  87. Charley O’Leary
  88. Orval Overall
  89. Jim Pastorius
  90. Ed Phelps
  91. Eddie Plank
  92. Lew Richie
  93. Germany Schaefer
  94. Biff Schlitzer
  95. Johnny Seigle/Siegle
  96. Dave Shean
  97. Jimmy Sheckard
  98. Tris Speaker
  99. Jake Stahl
  100. Oscar Stanage
  101. George Stone (Left Hand Showing)
  102. George Stone (No Hands Showing)
  103. George Stovall
  104. Ed Summers
  105. Bill Sweeney
  106. Jeff Sweeney
  107. Jesse Tannehill
  108. Lee Tannehill
  109. Fred Tenney
  110. Ira Thomas
  111. Roy Thomas
  112. Joe Tinker
  113. Bob Unglaub
  114. Jerry Upp
  115. Honus Wagner (Batting)
  116. Honus Wagner (Throwing)
  117. Bobby Wallace
  118. Ed Walsh
  119. Vic Willis
  120. Hooks Wiltse
  121. Cy Young (Boston)
  122. Cy Young (Cleveland)

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