1880s H804-7 Baseball Comics Were Typical Trade Cards

‘It’s In The Details’

Title H804-7 Baseball Comics
Year Unknown (1880s)
Size 3 1/8″ x 5 1/4″
Images Color
Type Trade
Number in Set

H804-7 Baseball Comics Overview

In the 1800s with the game of baseball growi2-copyng in popularity, businesses began using the game more and more to promote their businesses. In addition to N-Cards distributed with tobacco products, trade cards began sprouting up quite a bit.

One popular H-Card set is from the 1880s and is designated with the Baseball Comics classification in the American Card Catalog. The publication also gives it the designation H804-7 (the seventh under the Baseball Comics header).

Merchants Gargling Oil Liniment and Others

The H804-7 cards were used to promote a few different businesses. The main one was Merchants Gargling Oil Liniment, which was supposed to remove all sorts of body pains and aches. A quick glance at the checklist on the back shows that it was usable for all sorts of things, including burns, flesh wounds, swelled legs, toothaches, hemorrhoids, joint weakness, and many other things you’ve probably never even heard of. Cost at the time was $1 for a large bottle or $.25 for a small bottle.

The fronts of the cards had a generic image depicting the same fellow in five different poses. The Merchants Gargling Oil name was on the front in different spots, including the players belt or the baseball bat he carried. And while Merchants had ads on some of the backs. they also featured other businesses, too. On the cards I currently have, backs include: Crampton’s, Hamilton’s Cough Candy, Ingalls, M.V. Colton Groceries., Merchant’s Gargling Oil, and Wood Bishop & Company.


The cards are commonly found trimmed because the bottoms had an advertisement for the oil, which some collectors cut off. The H804-7 set was a typical trade card issue featuring a player in various comedic poses. That was common for trade cards of the day.

Variations and Scarcity

One unique feature is that there are actually four versions of the H804-7 set with varying colors and punctuation differences, as documented in Frank Keetz’ excellent book, “Baseball Advertising Trade Cards.”

These are relatively scarce, but you do see them for sale on eBay a good bit. This is a great trade card set to begin with since there are only five cards in the release and they aren’t nearly as difficult to find as other baseball trade cards.

These trade cards are paper thin, printed on a stock not designed to stand the test of time. That so many have survived more than a century is somewhat remarkable.

H804-7 Baseball Comics Checklist

The H804-7 checklist includes the following cards (each with the aforementioned variations):

  1. Something must be done “Put it there!” (with bat)
  2. The Hero of a Home Run. The Ladies Favorite.
  3. Bravo! The Pet of the Nine.
  4. A Close Affair. Hugging the Bat.
  5. Struck Out

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