1888 Allen & Ginter Set (N28)

‘It’s In The Details’

Title N28 Allen & Ginter
Year 1888
Size 1 1/2″ x 2 3/4″
Images Color
Type 19th Century Tobacco
Number in Set

1888 N28 Allen & Ginter Overview

N28 01 Cap AnsonN28 04 ClarksonThe 1888 N28 Allen & Ginter cards featured  a collection of 50 champions and stars in a variety of sports, including baseball, rowing, wrestling, pugilism/boxing, rifle shooting, and billiards/pool. Even more than 125 years later, the cards are still considered to be among the most artistic issues of all time.

Collectors differ on the exact date with some citing it as an 1887 issue. However, that seems unlikely due to the inclusion of John Clarkson as a baseball player in Boston. Clarkson wasn’t signed with that club until April of 1888, making an 1887 date a virtual impossibility.

The cards have some of the best artwork of any pre-war card around and the checklist of the full set is on the back of each card. As stated on the backs, the cards were included in each pack of ten Allen & Ginter cigarettes.

The set was followed up in 1889 with a second series of sorts. This Allen & Ginter set, known to collectors today as N29, also included 50 cards with more athletes being featured.

The Allen & Ginter name was printed on the fronts of these cards at the bottoms. Many collectors didn’t care for that and subsequently cut the bottom portion off. I believe that could have been a reason the ensuing N29 set only included the Allen & Ginter name on the back instead of the front.

The two sets are similar but different. Here’s a look at comparing the two against each other.

Baseball … and Others

N28 McMahon Wrestling Allen and GinterJack Dempsey N28 Boxing Allen and GinterThe set includes a total of 50 athletes but it’s clearly the ten baseball players that draw the most interest from collectors these days.

Among the baseball players are six Hall of Famers, including Hall of Famers Cap Anson, John Clarkson, Charlie Comiskey, Tim Keefe, King Kelly, and John Ward. The pictures show the players in a variety of poses and are widely collected. Even the non Hall of Fame players are heavily desired and it’s hard to find one, even in poor condition, under $100.

The pugilists/boxers do quite well, also – particularly the card of Jack ‘Nonpareil’ Dempsey, not to be confused with the Dempsey that came later in the 1900s. Other popular cards in the set are those of Annie Oakley, John Sullivan, and Buffalo Bill Cody. Other sports depicted include wrestling and track and field, among others.

Another popular sport sought after in the set is billiards. The set includes some of the early greats in that sport.

Albums and Album Cuts

Allen & Ginter also created a special album as a premium known today as the A16 issue. That album included pictures of these exact cards minus the Allen & Ginter’s advertisement at the bottom.

Collectors of N28 cards should make sure the card they are receiving is a genuine N28 card and not a hand cut card from the A16 Album. While those do have value, they are not as valuable as the regular N28 cards. The easiest way to tell the difference is that the album cut cards do not have the Allen & Ginter name on the front nor the full checklist on the backs.

1888 N28 Allen & Ginter Checklist

  1. Joe Acton
  2. Yank Adams
  3. Cap Anson (Baseball)
  4. Theo Bauer
  5. William Beach
  6. Chas Bennett (Baseball)
  7. Young Bibby
  8. Captain Bogardus
  9. George Bubear
  10. Jimmy Carney
  11. Jimmy Carroll
  12. W.F. Carver
  13. Bob Caruthers (Baseball)
  14. John Clarkson (Baseball)
  15. Buffalo Bill Cody
  16. Charles Comiskey (Baseball)
  17. Maurice Daly
  18. Jack Dempsey (‘Nonpareil’)
  19. Joseph Dion
  20. Albert Frey
  21. Jake Gaudaur
  22. Jack Glassock (Baseball)
  23. Albert Hamm
  24. Ed Hanlan
  25. George Hosmer
  26. Tim Keefe (Baseball)
  27. King Kelly (Baseball)
  28. Jake Kilrain
  29. Joe Lannon
  30. J.L. Malone
  31. Jack McAuliffe
  32. John McKay
  33. J.H. McLaughlin
  34. John McMahon
  35. Charlie Mitchell
  36. William Muldoon
  37. Joseph Mulvey (Baseball)
  38. Annie Oakley
  39. Wallace Ross
  40. J. Schaefer
  41. William Sexton
  42. George Slosson
  43. Jem Smith
  44. Matsada Sorakichi
  45. John L. Sullivan
  46. John Teemer
  47. E.A. Trickett
  48. M. Vignaux
  49. John Ward (Baseball)
  50. Ike Weir