1887 Kimball Champions Set (N184)

‘It’s In The Details’

Title N184 Kimball Champions
Year 1887
Size 1 1/2″ x 2 5/8″
Images Color
Type 19th Century Tobacco
Number in Set

N184 Kimball Champions Overview

N184 Darling.jpg

N184 DempseyN184 MullerThe 1887 N184 Kimball Champions set was a typical 19th Century tobacco card release. Similar to the popular N28 and N29 Allen & Ginter sets and the N162 Goodwin Champions set, it included 50 cards of various types of athletes from around the world. The N184 cards aren’t as popular as those other issues, but are more difficult to find.

Among the most popular cards are the four baseball players. None of the four were Hall of Famers, but since they were baseball players, they will always have some interest from collectors. The baseball players included are Dell Darling, Tip O’Neill, E.A. Burch, and Hardie Henderson.

Also popular with collectors is the card of rifle shooter Annie Oakley and that of pugilist/boxer Jack ‘Nonpareil’ Dempsey. Wrestling is also featured as a sport in this set.

One unique thing about the set is the inclusion of several child athletes. In particular, a child boxer (Master Ray Perry) and a child club swinger (John Wessels) are featured. In fact, in general, there are a lot of obscure sports featured here, including cannonball catching, checkers, and more.

The cards are well done but aren’t as colorful as some other issues from the same era, such as the N162 Goodwin set. A checklist is provided on the backs of the cards for the sports represented, but specific names of the athletes are not included.

Like the aforementioned N28, N29 and N162 issues, a supplementary premium album was also created for the N184 cards, known today as the A42 Album.

Strange Choices

N184 Kimball Champions Tip ONeill.pngThe four baseball players are easily the most desirable cards in the set. However, that is due mostly as a product of them merely being baseball players and not indicative of the types of careers they had.

As I wrote here for Sports Collectors Daily, the four players were sort of an odd assortment to be chosen to represent a set that was to feature champions and top athletes.

Tip O’Neill certainly belonged. In 1887, he had one of the greatest all-time seasons of all time, winning the Triple Crown and leading the league in practically every major offensive category. Aside from him, though, the others had relatively modest careers.

In terms of star power, O’Neill is really the only one that belonged. It should come as no surprise that is card is the most desirable of the four.

An Odd Variation

Most collectors, even those that specialize in pre-war, are unfamiliar with a strange variation that is a part of this set. Most cards in the set have no print at the top. However, approximately half of the cards in the set can be found with nothing at the top or they have the W.S. Kimball & Co. Cigarettes name printed.

Jefferson Burdick outlined this variation in his American Card Catalog. At the time of the publication of that book, Burdick had seen a few names printed at the top over the athlete’s face. By his count, he had seen only 25 total. How many were printed and why they exist is not currently known. But that variant is out there.

Female Athletes

Annie Oakley N184 KimballAnother interesting note is that the set included several cards of female champions in various sports.

The most famous of these was Annie Oakley, a famous trick shooter. But the N184 Kimball set was the only one of the four major champions issues (Allen & Ginter N28/29 and Goodwin N162 being the others) that included more than one female. In all, there are five of them in this set. They included:

  • Della Ferrell (Horseback Rider)
  • Annie Oakley (Rifle Shooter)
  • Lillian Smith (Rifle Shooter)
  • Hattie Stewart (Boxer)
  • Ada Webb (Water Queen)

Here’s a closer look at the five cards of the female champion athletes.

N184 Kimball Champions Checklist

  1. William Beach
  2. Marve Beardsley
  3. Charles Blatt
  4. Charles Blondin
  5. Paul Boyton
  6. E. A. Burch (Baseball)
  7. Patsy Cardiff
  8. Phillip Casey
  9. J.C. Cockburn
  10. Dell Darling (Baseball)
  11. Jack Dempsey
  12. Della Ferrell
  13. Clarence Freeman
  14. Louis George
  15. W.G. George
  16. George Hamilton
  17. Edward Hanlan
  18. C.H. Heins
  19. Hardie Henderson (Baseball)
  20. Thomas Humphrey
  21. J.H. Jordan
  22. Johnny Kane
  23. James McLaughlin
  24. John McPherson
  25. Joseph Morsler
  26. William Muldoon
  27. S. Muller
  28. Isaac Murphy
  29. John Murphy
  30. L.E. Myers
  31. Daniel O’Leary
  32. James O’Neil (Baseball)
  33. Annie Oakley
  34. W. Byrd Page
  35. Axel Paulsen
  36. Master Ray Perry
  37. Duncan Ross
  38. William Rowe
  39. Jacob Schaefer
  40. W.M. Schloss
  41. Jem Smith
  42. Lillian Smith
  43. Hattie Stewart
  44. John L. Sullivan
  45. Arthur Wallace
  46. Tommy Warren
  47. Ada Webb
  48. John Wessels
  49. Clarence Whistler
  50. Charles Wood