1924 Walter Mails Game Card (WG7) Set

‘It’s In The Details’

Title Walter Mails Game Cards (WG7)
Year 1924
Size 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″
Images Black and White
Type Game Cards
Number in Set
57

1924 Walter Mails Game Cards Overview

WG7 Bancroft.jpgThe WG7 Walter Mails Game card set included a total of 56 cards (57 if you count the instructions card).

The cards were distributed in a small box printed in either blue ink or red ink – more on that in a bit. The box advertised that the game was ‘For Young’ or ‘For Old’, indicating it was for all ages. Further, it stated that the game was ‘realistic.’ Finally, it states that was endorsed by major league players and included autographed pictures, even though the actual autographs were replicas.

The game was sold for $1.00 and was, as advertised on the box, made in the U.S.

The set did include some stars but left a lot to be desired compared to other gaming cards, such as the WG5, WG6, or WG7 sets. Walter Johnson highlights the group and the set also included players such as George Sisler and Rabbit Maranville. One unique aspect of the set is that many of the players had their nicknames listed as well.

Fronts included a black and white picture of the player in question, a specific action for the game, and the player’s name and replica signature.

Most of the set isn’t done too bad. But several of the images are cropped oddly giving some of the cards an overly sloppy look. Also adding to that are the fact that a few different fonts are used for the action words. The set is relatively clean but the aesthetics could certainly be improved.

Finally, another interesting feature of the cards is found in the corners. The cards had rounded corners like other game card issues, but are not quite as rounded as other playing cards.

Groves sold the game mostly via mail order and ultimately sold the remaining 1,000 decks of cards to a recreational league in California. It is believed that approximately 5,000 sets were created.

The Groves family helped provide a lot of information on this set and, after being in touch with them, I pieced together a separate, in-depth article on this release. Much more on the Mails game set and its history can be found here.

Back Variations

The cards’ backs included a typical playing card design and two different types exist.

One was printed in red ink and a second was printed in blue ink. Each back included generic images of baseball players included in small circles.

The blue-backed cards are considered to be rarer and were printed first. Red-backed cards were an update of sorts and were printed later. Blue-backed cards were distributed in the aforementioned blue-ink boxes while red-backed cards were offered in the red-ink boxes.

Creator George Groves and Walter Mails

While Mails’ name was used for the promotion of the set, George N. Groves was actually its creator. That is mentioned on the instructions card, which was included with the game and credits him as the inventor.

Groves himself was also featured in the set. He was not a major league player but was instead, as his card indicates, the manager of six consecutive Junior Base Ball Championship teams in Oakland. The box states that 55 cards of major leaguers were included, which can lead many to believe that only 55 were included. In fact, there are 57 cards including the card of Groves and the instructions.

The set bears the name of Walter Mails, a former player. Mails, who was a pitcher at the time, is also included in the set himself. The game’s box indicates that it was distributed by the Great Mails Base Ball Game Company.

Special Insert

In addition to the cards, an ancillary insert is also known to exist for this set. A two-sided paper flyer was printed that gives even more insight into the set.

One side of the undated flyer contained unmarked sample box scores that could be used to play games. Two sample box scores were printed to allow players to recreate them in that style. Additional box scores were available from the company at the cost of six for ten cents or 20 for ‘two bits’ (a quarter).

The other side of the flyer presented Groves’ special system of scoring. But the more intriguing aspect was that a contest was being run to allow fans to select players that they wanted to see in an update of the set. It is unknown if this update was used for additions to the red-backed set or if it was a planned update for an additional printing that never occurred.

Fans were to mail the bottom portion of the flyer to the game company (based in Santa Monica, California). That area had lines where a player’s name and team was to be entered and it was also to be signed by the submitter.

A Second Game

Groves’ family still has many of the original documents of this game and also has Groves’ plans for a second game. You can read more about this story here.

1924 Walter Mails Game Cards Checklist

  1. Buzz Arlett
  2. Jim Bagby
  3. Dave Bancroft
  4. Johnny Basseler
  5. Jack Bentley
  6. Rube Benton
  7. George Burns
  8. Joe Bush
  9. Harold Chavez
  10. Hugh Critz
  11. Jake Daubert
  12. Wheezer Dell
  13. Joe Dugan
  14. Pat Duncan
  15. Howard Ehmke
  16. Lew Fonseca
  17. Ray French
  18. Ed Gharrity
  19. Heinie Groh
  20. George Groves
  21. Red Hargrave
  22. Elmer Jacobs
  23. Walter Johnson
  24. Duke Kenworthy
  25. Harry Krause
  26. Ray Kremer
  27. Walter Mails
  28. Rabbit Maranville
  29. Bob Meusel
  30. Stuffy McInnis
  31. Marty McManus
  32. Hack Miller
  33. Pat Moran
  34. Guy Morton
  35. Johnny Mostil
  36. Rod Murphy
  37. Jimmy O’Connell
  38. Joe Oescheger
  39. Steve O’Neil
  40. Roger Peckinpaugh
  41. Babe Pinelli
  42. Wally Pipp
  43. Elmer Ponder
  44. Sam Rice
  45. Edwin Rommel
  46. Walter Schmidt
  47. Joe Sewell
  48. Pat Shea
  49. Wilford Shupe
  50. Paddy Siglin
  51. George Sisler
  52. Bill Skiff
  53. J. Smith
  54. Harry Sutherland
  55. James Tierney
  56. George Uhle
  57. Instructions Card

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