1909-11 American Caramel (E90-1) Set
‘It’s In The Details’
|Title||E90-1 American Caramel
|Size||1 1/2″ x 2 3/4″
|Number in Set
E90-1 American Caramel Overview
The 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.
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.
Joe Jackson Rookie and Others
In all, 121 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.
Several players have cards with variations. 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.
Speaking 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, I have not checklisted it as a separate card here at this time.
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.
‘Set of 100’?
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, 120 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.
Dots Miller Sunset Newest Variation
While 120 cards are most generally listed for this set, 121 is actually the correct number. 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.
Thus, while 120 is often cited as being the number of cards in this set, this variation pushes it to 121.
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.
E90-1 American Caramel Checklist
Below is a complete checklist for the set.
|Home Run Baker|
|Kitty Bransfield (P on shirt)|
|Kitty Bransfield (no P)|
|Fred Clarke (Philadelphia)|
|Fred Clarke (Pittsburgh)|
|George Gibson (back view)|
|George Gibson (front view)|
|Roy Hartzell (fielding)|
|Roy Hartzell (batting)|
|Harry Howell (follow through)|
|Harry Howell (windup)|
|Addie Joss (portrait)|
|Addie Joss (pitching)|
|Willie Keeler (pink)|
|Willie Keeler (red)|
|Willie Keeler (throwing)|
|Tommy Leach (throwing)|
|Tommy Leach (batting)|
|Dots Miller (two variations – one with and without a red sunset in the background)|
|George Stone (no hands)|
|George Stone (left hand)|
|Honus Wagner (batting)|
|Honus Wagner (throwing)|
|Cy Young (Cleveland)|
|Cy Young (Boston)|