W542 Sports Drawings Strip Card Set Has Early Baseball and Hockey

‘It’s In The Details’

Title W542 Sports Drawings Strip
Year 1920s
Size 1 7/16″ x 2 1/2″
Images Color
Type Strip
Number in Set

W542 Strip Cards Overview

skating-w542The 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. Card No. 2 is Cricket but can be confused as a batter at first glance by collectors if the bottom identifying the sport happens to be missing. 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.

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 arw542-stripe 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.

W542 Sports Drawings Checklist

  1. Training (Card is identified as training but it is related to training for boxing)
  2. Cricket
  3. Tennis
  4. Boxing
  5. Athlete (lifting dumbbell)
  6. Roller Skating
  7. Ice Skating
  8. Hockey
  9. Catcher
  10. Pitcher

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