1928/1929 Stevens-Davis Men of America (H572) Set and Checklist
‘It’s In The Details’
|Title||Stevens-Davis Men of America Booklets (H572)
|Year||1928 and 1929
|Size||2 1/2″ x 4 1/4″|
|Images||Black and White|
|Number in Set
1928/1929 Stevens-Davis Men of America Overview
These interesting items were listed in the American Card Catalog as H572. As is the case with numerous listings in that book, these actually not trading cards, though. Instead, they are miniature booklets.
Produced by the Stevens-Davis Company in Chicago, the title explains a little about what they are. These are a booklets featuring some of the greatest men in the country up to the 1920s.
These were created as a motivational tool for various companies to use with their employees. An employee gift box was originally included to hold the booklets. The original gift box is dark blue (or black, as some might consider it) and is a faux book that opens up to hold the cards. While fairly rare, these original boxes do appear for sale on occasion.
To the inside of the boxes, almost all of the lids are found with lines of gold paint. That paint was used to coat the insides of the boxes and much of it seems to have made its way on the inside lid of the box.
The booklets all have the same general design – a larger black and white image of the subject against a series of colorful backgrounds. There are some color variations known as well (mentioned below), which can make a master set tricky.
The booklets mostly comprise non-sports personalities, such as presidents, inventors, and businessmen. However, they are of interest here as a few depict those from the world of sports. One of the most popular booklets in the series is that of Walter Camp, the father of modern football.
Arguably the most sought after, booklet No. 35, is also very important as it depicts American athletes. Hall of Fame golfer Bobby Jones is found on one cover side and baseball Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby is on the other. The inside of the booklet also pictures tennis Hall of Famer Bill Tilden, Penn/Navy college football, and swimmer Johnny Weismuller.
Date of Issue
The date of issue has confused many collectors. Dating of these booklets varies with some sources citing them as a 1928 set while others claiming they are from 1929.
The reason for that is simple. On the inside cover of some of the booklets, a 1928 copyright year of issue appears. On others, a 1929 copyright print is there. That leads us to believe that the series was issued in at least both of those years. It is even possible that the set was issued beyond those dates.
Kenesaw Mountain Landis ‘Rookie’ Card
Another popular booklet is one featuring Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Landis was a federal judge that became baseball’s first commissioner in the wake of the 1919 Black Sox scandal.
Depicting a cartoon scene of baseball players on the front, it is one of his few baseball issues.
Landis’ booklet is an important one because the legendary figure appears on a surprisingly small amount of pre-war baseball items aside from photographs. In fact, this is his only known cataloged issue and is recognized by many collectors as a rookie card of sorts.
However, Landis does appear on at least one very rare postcard that might predate this issue. Additionally, he appeared on a team photo with the Hartford Senators in 1916, though he was not yet commissioner at that time.
Here’s a bit more on the Landis booklet as well as a few of his other collectibles from the pre-war era.
While 52 booklets is often the cited amount there are actually a total of 55 as three checklisted numbers have more than one variation.
There are No. 11 booklets for both Independence Day and Thomas Jefferson. Myles Standish and William Bradford are both No. 19. And Haley Fiske has two different variations – a portrait and a full body picture on booklet No. 42.
Additionally, color variations in the set exist. Shown here are two of those for famous pilot Richard Byrd. Some believe that those are the product of different booklets being printed in different years but that is not the case. For example, some of the same color variations have different copyright years on them.
Often times, no real price premium exists for the color variations. But some dealers that are knowledgeable about the set can ask for them as some are very clearly rarer than others.
A final note on variations is that print ink levels may have played a part in some. Some variations appear very clearly to be intended color changes while others may be only modest.
Yet another type of variation (of sorts) in the set lies in the companies that distributed these booklets.
We typically know very little (if anything) as to which companies used these for their employees. That is not helped by the booklets themselves, which are almost always unmarked. However, some instances of apparent companies distributing these booklets are occasionally seen.
On the backs of some of the booklets I own are advertisements/stamps for The Toledo News Bee, a now defunct newspaper that existed from the early 1900s into the 1930s. While rare, I have several of these that have their name added to the back, much like trade cards, which were usually designed to be used by multiple businesses. It is unclear how they used these (i.e. given away to paperboys, given to customers, or distributed among other internal employees), but they were almost certainly given away by the publication at some point.
On occasion, you will find some of these marked with their name or with the names of other companies.
1928/1929 Stevens-Davis Men of America Checklist
I’ve added known color variations below, though others almost certainly exist.
- Teddy Roosevelt – Variations with brown and green “Men of America” headers
- Thomas Edison
- John Pershing
- George Washington
- Charles Lindbergh
- Charles Schwab – Variations with white background and green background
- Ben Franklin
- Will Rogers
- Robert Dollar
- D.W. Brosman
- Independence Day and Thomas Jefferson
- Richard Byrd – Variations with orange, green, and maroon backgrounds
- Alvin York
- Abraham Lincoln – Variations with white nameplate/trees and green nameplate/trees
- Luther Burbank
- Charles Steinmetz – Variations with orange and red nameplates
- Walter Camp
- John Wanamaker
- Myles Standish and William Bradford
- Walter Gifford – Variations with brown and purple backgrounds
- George Goethals
- George Dewey
- Gustavus Swift
- William Hoskins
- A.P. Giannini – Variations with yellow and orange “Men of America” headers
- Owen Young
- George Westinghouse
- Orville Wright – Variations with white background and green background
- James Davis
- Russell Conwell
- Cyrus Curtis – Variations with orange background and yellow background
- Douglas Fairbanks – Variations with blue and green nameplates
- W.W. Atterbury
- Elbert Gary
- American Athletes (Bobby Jones and Rogers Hornsby) – Variations with purple and green bottom
- Donald MacMillan – Variations with brown and purple picture frame
- Frank Woolworth
- Elbert Hubbard – Variations with blue and green name plates
- E.M. Statler – Variations with blue and green “Men of America” header plates
- John Patterson – Variations with blue and green picture frame
- George Eastman
- Haley Fiske (two variations – full body pose and portrait)
- John McCutcheon – Variations with gray and orange backgrounds
- W.M. Burton – Variations with blue and green top/bottom
- Calvin Coolidge
- Julius Rosenwald
- Harvey Firestone
- Alfred Sloan
- Kennesaw Mountain Landis
- Cecil De Mille
- Walter Head
- Henry Ford
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