A look into the 1889 N228 Kinney Bros. Novelties Set and its Six Variations

‘It’s In The Details’

Title N228 Kinney Brothers
Year 1889
Size Various
Images Color
Type 19th Century Tobacco
Number in Set
375

N228 Kinney Brothers Overview

002kinney-baseball-girlThe N228 Kinney Bros. Novelties set is already a unique issue. Produced in 1889, these cards can be found but are not plentiful. A total of six types make up the complete set, which features actresses and other women.

Some of these pictures were reused two years later in the N120 Duke/Honest Miniature Novelties set.

While this is mostly a non-sports issue, there is one intriguing baseball card in the set – that of a girl against a baseball background. The only other real sports card is that of a girl printed on a tennis racket. There are actually three of each of these, found in Type 3, Type 4, and Type 5.

Some collectors may be familiar with the cards, but most are not aware that there are six types of the Kinney cards. They are as follows:

Type 1: Standard circular card (25 cards)
Type 2: Standard circular card with a colored edge (50 cards)
Type 3: Die-cut card (75 cards)
Type 4: Die-cut embossed card (50 cards)
Type 5: Rectangular card (50 cards)
Type 6: Die-cut card in the shape of an egg (125 cards – see Type 6 section below)

Interestingly enough, the different types have varying backgrounds, too. Type 1 and 2, for example, have the Kinney Bros. Cigarettes name on different colored backs. Type 3 and 4 are exactly the same. They also have the Kinney Bros. name and state that there are 50 cards in the set, one in each package.

Type 5 has yet another back and in uncut form is particularly hard to find because the backs of the cards encouraged collectors to cut them up. Those cards stated the following:

The beauty and value of this collection is increased by cutting out to shape of design.”

It’s hard to say exactly why Kinney Bros. wanted collectors to do that. Perhaps it was so that they matched the other die-cut issues they created. But in that instance, why make the rectangular cards at all, then? It’s a question that isn’t ever likely to be answered.

The odd request worked, though. Pictured here is a perfect example of this happening. As you can see, a previous collector of this card cut out the circular shape on the baseball card, leaving some of the text on the back cut off.

Three Baseball Variations

The baseball girl is the only baseball issue in the series. However, more than one card is known.

The baseball girl shows up in the die-cut N228-3 set. It might not look like a die-cut at first, but is actually the shape of a baseball. While the cards in N228-1 and N228-2 are round, all cards in the N228-3 subset are not round. Instead, they have various shapes and the baseball card just happens to be a baseball. Others are in the shapes of all sorts of objects.

While most checklists only cite the N228-3 version of the card, a total of three versions actually exist.

In addition to N228-3, it is seen in N228-4. Those cards were the same as the ones found in N228-3 but have an embossed look. Of the three cards, this one is personally the one I have seen the least. Finally, it is also in N228-5. That subset featured all rectangular cards and this same image was used on that one as well. The only difference is that, instead of appearing on a baseball, it appears on a four-sided card. As stated above, the baseball portion of the card has often been cut out, per the recommendations of the printer and many assume it is the regular N228-3 version, which is the circular card.

Type 6 Rarity

Of all of the Kinney types, N228-6 is by far the toughest. These are rarely seen and, helping to attest to their rarity, REA auctioned off a lot of nearly 900 Kinney cards across the six types in the fall of 2015. There was one N228-6 in the entire lot.

Backs of these cards state that there are 125 in the series. However, that could be incorrect with so few in existence. This site states that 14 make up the entire series. Jefferson Burdick, author of the American Card Catalog, also has his doubts. In his book, he listed the number of each type. For Type 6, he states only that the cards say there are 125 subjects.

For purposes of this site, until more information is found, I have listed 125 as the proper checklisted amount.

N228 Kinney Brothers Checklist

A total of 289 cards make up this set, although almost all of them are non-sports related.

Below are pictures of cards for nearly the entire set.

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