T88 Mutt and Jeff, the Chicago Cubs, and … copyright issues?

T88 Mutt and Jeff Overview

Mutt and Jeff was a popular comic strip that ran from 1907 until 1983. In general, it featured the adventures of two men, Mutt and Jeff. Mutt was a taller, thin man while Jeff was shorter and a bit stocky.

The T88 Mutt and Jeff set is almost entirely a non-sports issue that was created for the series. The cards were actually believed to have been produced in 1906 before the comic strip series began.

The set features sketches from the cartoon and includes a total of 100 different cards. However, there are significantly more cards when one takes into account all of the variations black and white and color variations. In addition, five different advertising backs were used in the set and, accounting for all of those, there could be more than 1,000 cards in a theoretical master set.

A total of four different types of cards were included in the set and the cards were issued in various packages of cigarettes, including the Sweet Caporal and Sovereign brands, which were brands used in the popular T206 set. Baseball and boxing are really the only sports cards in the massive set.

As a quick tutorial, here’s a breakdown of the four types of cards in the set:

  • Type 1: Black and White cards (100 cards)
  • Type 2: Black and White cards (novelty cards and only 50 from Type 1)
  • Type 3: Black and White cards (100 cards that were same as Type 1 but different numbers)
  • Type 4: Color cards (100 cards, same as Type 3)

Cubs and Giants/Yankees Introduced

T88 NYT88 CubsAmong the cards in the set, two black and white baseball issues were featured. One featured Mutt as a batter for the New York Giants or Highlanders (now the Yankees) while the other pictured Jeff as a catcher for the Chicago Cubs. They are identified by the logos on their sleeves for those teams.

The Giants/Highlanders card pictures Mutt batting, saying to the pitcher, “Shoot one over, kid.” A bottom caption also reads, “Let’s see what you got.” It is difficult to determine which team is represented because both the Giants and Highlanders utilized an overlapped NY for their logo.

The Cubs card shows Jeff as a catcher for the Cubs. The caption on that card simply reads, “Oh you Cubs.”

Several cartoonists were used for the production of the set. Artist names are found accompanying the drawings, making it easy to identify exactly who drew the particular picture for a card. Both of the baseball-themed cards have the name ‘Fisher’ on them, meaning they were drawn by Bud Fisher, the creator of the series.

A Cubs Variation

T88 Mutt and JeffLike other cards in the set, the black and white versions were duplicated for the Type 4 color set. This is where things get interesting.

The Giants/Highlanders card has no change to it. That was not unexpected as most, if not all, of the color cards were unchanged from the black and white set. Same picture, same text, same NY logo on the sleeve. However, the Cubs card got a significant makeover.

The color version of the Cubs card removed the Cubs logo from Jeff’s sleeve. Further making it a generic issue was that the slogan at the bottom was changed. Instead of, ‘Oh you Cubs’ being printed on it, the phrase now read ‘Gimme a high ball,’ omitting the Cubs’ name.

Perhaps, if only the Cubs name was removed from the sleeve, it could have been seen as an error card where it may have simply been left out by mistake. But the change of the phrase to omit the Cubs name makes it a deliberate attempt to remove any ties to the professional team. The question then becomes, why?

It’s likely an answer we’ll never know. A second question, along those lines, is why the New York card remained unchanged? Perhaps the creators of the series gained the blessing of the Giants or Highlanders to include the logo on their card. Or, perhaps the omission of the Giants or Highlanders name didn’t warrant such a change in the mind of the creators.  My guess is the latter and they either were asked to remove any inference to the Cubs name or felt it best to not create a problem and removed it without having to have been asked.

Whatever the reason, the Cubs/Jeff card makes for an interesting variation in a pretty tough set.

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