These small Cuban cards were made by a caramel manufacturer. With 100 cards in the set, the issue features the world’s biggest boxing stars of the time.
The most distinctive feature of the cards is their small size. They measure only about an inch tall and are similar to the more common Baguer Chocolates set, also believed to have been printed in the same year. The link to Baguer is obvious as both products (in addition to others, including La Constancia, Mestre y Martinica, La Habanera, and El Fenix) were produced by the same company, Cuba Industrial y Comercial S.A.
Both sets have a similar design with the subject’s name on the front and a differing but short message in Spanish on the back. In addition to Habana (Havana) on the back, these boxing cards also have the print, “Caramelos la Estrella,” translating to Star Caramels. The backs are printed in blue or black ink. I have also seen some with blank backs. However, I am not certain those were not pasted into albums and subsequently removed, removing the text in the process.
The set is headlined by Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney, and includes numerous Hall of Famers and stars.
A special orange album was printed for these cards, into which they were designed to be pasted. The album also provides some insight as to why (in part) these cards may be so rare.
The album indicates that anyone sending in a complete album with all 100 cards would receive a prize – either a boxing glove or a box of chocolates. If those cards were redeemed and not returned, that would help explain their rarity. It does not seem likely they were returned as I have not yet seen any bearing a hole punch or other such redemption stamp that would indicate to the company they could not be redeemed again.
The special offer was only for a limited time as collectors had to send an entire set in by November 30, 1930.