1922 Fans Cigarettes Set (T231)
‘It’s In The Details’
|Title||T231 Fans Cigarettes
|Size||1 1/2″ x 2 1/2″
|Number in Set
T231 Fans Cigarettes Overview
One pre-war card set that doesn’t attract a lot of discussion is the T231 Fans Cigarettes set. That’s largely due to the fact that so little is known about the cards.
The cards are so rare that only a few examples have been publicly acknowledged so far. A few years ago, in fact, only the third ever card was reported.
One thing we do know is the date of the cards. That is evident from the backs which detail a player’s last four years of statistics, ending in 1921. Because of that, we can almost certainly call this a 1922 series.
The cards include sepia images on the front and, as mentioned on the backs, they were packaged inside of Fans Cigarettes products.
Of note here is that a Fans Cigarettes box was recently discovered in the Fall of 2018. While a large baseball is featured on one side, a variety of sports are represented on the other, including equipment for things such as football, hockey, and lacrosse. One has to wonder if this could possibly be a multi-sport issue.
A Recent Discovery
Two new cards were checklisted in 2021 as collector Scott Alpaugh identified two he’d had in his collection.
The cards were actually purchased about 35 years prior to them being known to the hobby.
The new cards featuring Sam Bohne and Joe Bush were the ones brought to light. Both cards are heavily trimmed so unfortunately the card numbers were part of the card cut off. The cards, shown here, were ultimately authenticated and graded by PSA.
Their discovery continues to fuel hope that more are out there waiting to be added to the slow-growing checklist.
A Unique Contest and Scarcity Thoughts
Adding to the intrigue was that the cards were apparently a part of some type of contest. Collectors sent the cards in with their name/address written on them. The backs left room for a collector to fill in their information and the back of each card stated that by sending in the card to Fans Cigarettes, he/she was guessing that said player appearing on the card would be the leading batter for his particular position.
While the cards may not have been heavily printed, that they were part of some sort of redemption program makes their scarcity much more understandable.
But this scarce? The cards are also numbered on the fronts. Carson Bigbee’s card, one of the three found, is the highest numbered at No. 85. Presumably, then, at least that many cards would be in the set. For that many to be part of the set but only three cards to surface at this point is curious.
Also interesting is that, despite so few cards surfacing, the set was chronicled in the American Card Catalog. Even though we only know of three in existence today, at least one had to be known/seen by old-time collector Jefferson Burdick. Were more of these cards known before or did Burdick only manage to see one of the three examples we know of today? It is possible he knew as little as we did as his ACC entry merely suggests these were small sepia cards with numbers on them.
Perhaps more will be known about this set someday. For now, however, the cards remain a true mystery.
T231 Fans Cigarettes Checklist
Only five cards have been found to date. The Bohne and Bush card numbers are not known as they were trimmed off along with the borders of those cards.
No. 61 Home Run Baker
No. 65 Larry Gardner
No. 85 Carson Bigbee
Sam Bohne (Card number unknown)
Joe Bush (Card number unknown)