‘It’s In The Details’
|Title||W542 Sports Drawings Strip
|Size||1 7/16″ x 2 1/2″
|Number in Set
W542 Strip Cards Overview
The W542 Sports Drawings set is a unique strip card issue in that it doesn’t include specific players. Instead, the set focuses on generic players in different sports. The final three cards in the set (the two baseball and a hockey card) are of most interest to American collectors.
Cards depict generic cartoon drawings of athletes on the fronts with blank backs (fronts also include card numbering). The two baseball cards included in the set are of a pitcher and a catcher. The producer of this set is unknown. Also unknown is the exact date of production. It is often cited as being a 1920s set, however.
There has often been some confusion about exactly what this issue is. PSA previously would not even grade the cards but began doing so recently.
If you collect cards because of the great imagery, you’re probably not too into this set. Like most strip cards that feature artwork instead of actual photographs, the pictures are crude and extremely basic renderings.
The cards (particularly the baseball ones) can easily be miscategorized by collectors as the W552 Mayfair Novelty set. While that set is strictly a baseball issue and this is a multi-sport issue, the baseball cards in this set can be mixed up as W552 cards because that set also depicts generic players with a position listed at the bottom.
In addition, while the producer is unknown, some people attribute this set to the Mayfair Novelty Company since they have a similar concept with the baseball cards in identifying players by positions. I’m not completely there in that theory for several reasons, which I’ll outline in a future article.
It’s worth nothing that the two baseball cards are the only ones that mention a specific position. Other sports that could, such as hockey or cricket, only mention the sport. The likely reason for that, however, is because baseball is the only one of that group with more than one card. Card No. 1 Training can be classified as a boxing card as well, making it the only other sport to have two cards in the set. But because boxing doesn’t have positions, it is left out of the conversation here.
One unique feature of this set is that, at least some cards, have been printed with reversed images. Thus far, I have seen cards with both regular and reversed images for No. 2 Cricket and No. 7 Ice Skating. Others, if not all, were likely printed with both sets of images as well.
The issue was recognized by Jefferson Burdick in the American Card Catalog and categorized as the W542 set. At the time of printing, Burdick reported a total of ten cards in the set that he had seen and that is all that has been identified today. Thus, the set stands complete at ten cards, which are listed in the checklist below. Complete strips of ten cards have also been found and that also provides a bit more evidence that the set is probably complete at that amount.
Baseball and Hockey Collectors Beware
Because of the cards’ crude artwork, collectors seeking the baseball and hockey cards should be careful.
A cricket batter (Card No. 2) can easily be mistaken as a baseball batter by inexperienced collectors. That is particularly true if the bottom that identifies the sport or athlete is torn off.
In addition, while there is only one ice hockey card, two others could pass for the sport if you aren’t careful. First, there is an ice skating card (No. 7). That card (shown above in the article) simply features a skater with no hockey stick or equipment. In addition, a roller skating card is included and that one can be confusing because it features a roller hockey player with a stick. The difference is that he is on roller skates instead of ice skates.
All of the alternative cards are easy to spot if you are familiar with the images or as long as the titles of the card are printed in the bottom border. But if you’re a baseball or hockey collector, you’ll just want to ensure you have the correct card.
W542 Sports Drawings Checklist
- Training (Card is identified as training but it is related to training for boxing)
- Athlete (lifting dumbbell)
- Roller Skating
- Ice Skating
- Ice Hockey