‘It’s In The Details’
|Title||N284 Buchner Gold Coin
|Size||1 3/4″ x 3″
|Type||19th Century Tobacco
|Number in Set
N284 Buchner Gold Coin Overview
When collectors think of the earliest major baseball card sets, the first set that often comes to mind is the N172 Old Judge set. But also printed around the same time was the 1887 N284 Buchner Gold Coin set.
While the name might indicate otherwise, these aren’t coins. Rather, they’re baseball cards produced by the Buchner Company for their Gold Coin Tobacco product.
Despite being such an early card, the set isn’t among the most popular pre-war card issues for a few reasons. First, they’re rare and hard to find. And with a somewhat sizable checklist of nearly 150 cards, that makes putting a set together virtually impossible.
In addition, while the cards are of specific players, the poses and depictions are generic. Images on many cards don’t look anything like the real-life player and many of the same exact poses were used on several different cards. This made them a stark contrast from other pre-war sets. The Old Judge and cabinet cards used actual photographs and other cards, such as the artistic T205 and T206 sets, featured outstanding lithography.
The lone exception to this rule is a card of George Wood. Wood has a horizontal card, which is not used by anyone else in the set. In it, he is stealing a base and for some reason, that pose was not duplicated. Alphabetically, it is considered the last card in the set. If the cards were created in alphabetical order, it is possible that the artist wanted to do something unique for the last card.
Also notable is that many players have more than one card in the set. Different poses were used for players with more than one card. Hall of Famer Dan Brouthers, for example, has one card featuring him ready to catch a baseball and another with him holding a bat.
Finally, the N284 designation given in the American Card Catalog was also shared with other subjects, including actors/actresses and police officers.
Another unique twist in these cards is that they can sometimes be found with parts of thick black letters and words on them. That is because they were printed as part of a large advertisement for the company’s product.
As this article states, the printing is on top of the fronts, indicating it was added to regular sheets of the cards. The cards also have regular backs and were printed on the same stock as the regular cards. This was a different approach compared to other tobacco cards that were used in the advertisements. Typically, the stock was different and most of the time, the backs were blank as the printers didn’t bother printing the backs onto them.
This tells me that the advertisements were likely very limited. If they had been mass produced, they would have probably printed them on thinner, less expensive stock and not bothered to waste additional ink needed to print them on the backs.
The text for the full advertising poster is not known. But that earlier link from Andy Broome’s website indicates that it, in part, reads something to the effect ‘Buchner & Co. Tobacco.’ The card shown here is courtesy of Broome.
These advertisement cards were not factory cut, obviously, since they were part of a poster. They are found individually today, however, and are always hand cut.
N284 Buchner Gold Coin Checklist
- Von Der Ahe
- Wood (Horizontal)