The W512 strip card set, like most strip cards, isn’t all that appealing to look at. In most cases, the pictures are pretty bad and appear to be crude renderings.
The set is still pretty collectable, though, for a few reasons. First, it contains ten cards of baseball players in the 50-card multi-sport/non-sports set. Second, the baseball collectors tend to only focus on those cards and, while they aren’t incredibly common, most are relatively easy to find. The bigger hurdle is getting them at reasonable prices since sellers often ask two or even three times what the card actually sell for when they’re available in an auction. Rarity doesn’t always equal value, but that’s another discussion for another time.
Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb are both in it and you can expect to pay good money for those. But the cards are mostly out there and it’s not a terribly tough pursuit compared to other pre-war sets. The few baseball commons in the set can sell for $10 or less and even the other Hall of Famers are often $20 or less in lower-grade shape. Rogers Hornsby is probably the lone exception as his cards command around $40-$50 in low-grade condition.
The 50-card set? That’s a bigger hurdle but not impossible. In fact, I was fascinated with the relative ease in which a set could seemingly be assembled and in only a few days of searching online, was able to get about halfway to the 50-card set. Cards of the other athletes and actors/actresses aren’t expensive but you don’t always see them available for low prices. Baseball players are numbered 1-10, actors/actresses are 11-30, miscellaneous athletes are 31-40, and boxers are 41-50.
The real challenge is assembling a master set. To date, I hadn’t seen a complete checklist in one place with all variations, so let’s take a shot at it.
While 50 cards are in the set, many more are in a master set. That’s because the set was issued over several years (widely accepted as 1925 to 1927). As an athlete’s status changed, the printer of the cards made changes to the set.
Some of the baseball players, for example, changed teams. They either had their new team printed instead of the old one or they simply read, ‘Ex-‘. Other variations existed as well. Instead of a team name, champions of other individual sports (i.e. boxing, tennis) were designated on the cards in the original production. When an athlete lost that title, subsequent printings of the cards indicated them as ‘Ex-Champions’.
The two players with those changes using the ‘Ex-‘ designation were Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker. As I wrote for Sports Collectors Daily, that was likely because a gambling conspiracy left their status in doubt after they left their respective teams following the 1926 season. It is likely that their cards were printed before they joined their new teams after they were cleared of the allegations.
The lone subset of the issue that did not seemingly undergo alterations were the actors and actresses. Their names were unchanged on the cards and no changes were required since only their names were printed.
In all, I’ve found variations for 13 athletes, including the six baseball players. One of those, boxer Abe Goldstein, has three variations.
Finally, collectors should note that the text changes were made in a different type of font making them easily distinguishable. The first printing of the cards included a sans serif style of basic font but subsequent printings with changes made were printed in a typewriter, serif style. Instead of producing completely new cards, the printer likely had a simple, typed change printed and put over top of the original on the printing sheets to make a quick fix.
So which variations are more valuable? Generally, there hasn’t been enough research to distinguish which variations are being sold for what or even which are more scarce. But if you’re willing to use the PSA population reports, there’s not much difference.
At the time of this printing, PSA did report on the actual variations of the baseball cards being submitted but the numbers for cards of players that had variations were not too great. In general and based on that, it appears that there weren’t more scarce than the others.
One other slight type of variation noted in the set are color ones. These are the result of the printing process and likely due to ink running out during a print cycle, similar to what could have happened with the popular Ty Cobb red/orange background cards in the T206 set.
Most of the variations are relatively minor but I’ve seen a few that are distinct. For example, Jack Wardle’s No. 34 card shown here is printed with both a red and orange (or pinkish) background. That is especially notable since it actually has an appearance of more muted colors like those found in the second series of this issue, the W513 strip card set. Other cards can be found with similar types of color issues.
I don’t suspect the card or others like it was intentionally printed with both background colors and is, as mentioned, an ink shortage issue of a card not getting the proper red ink applied. For that reason, I have not included it in the master set checklist. Master set collectors, however, should be aware of this variant and others in the event that they deem their pursuit warranted. Other print variants likely exist as well.
W512 Master Checklist
Below is what I believe to be the master checklist for this issue. I welcome any additions to this list. In all, I have a total of 64 verified cards listed below in the set.
1. Dave Bancroft
2a. Grover Alexander – Chicago Cubs
2b. Grover Alexander – St. Louis Cardinals
3a. Ty Cobb – Detroit A.L
3b. Ty Cobb – Ex-Mgr. Detroit A.L.
4a. Tris Speaker – Cleveland A.L.
4b. Tris Speaker – Ex-Mgr. Cleveland A.L.
5. Glenn Wright (misspelled ‘Glen’)
6. Babe Ruth
7a. Everett Scott – Chicago A.L.
7b. Everett Scott – Yankees A.L.
8a. Frankie Frisch – Giants N.L.
8b. Frankie Frisch – St. Louis N.L.
9a. Rogers Hornsby – Cardinals
9b. Rogers Hornsby – Giants N.L.
10. Dazzy Vance
11. Irene Rich
12. Betty Compson
13. Mary Philbin
14. Mary Astor
15. Dorothy Dalton
16. Anna Nilsson
17. Helene Chadwick
18. Eva Novak
19. Normal Talmadge
20. Corinne Griffith
21. Tom Mix
22. Harold Lloyd
23. Monte Blue
24. Charlie Chaplin
25. John Barrymore
26. Jackie Coogan
27. Lon Chaney
28. Richard Barthelmess
29. Thomas Meighan
30. Douglas Fairbanks
31. Gladys Robinson
32. Lt. R.L. Maugham
33a. Helen Wills – Tennis Champ
33b. Helen Wills – Ex-Tennis Champ
34. Jack Wardle
35. Clarence De Mar
36a. Bill Tilden – Tennis Champ
36b. Bill Tilden – Ex-Tennis Champ
37. Helen Wainwright
38. Johnny Weismuller
39. Walter Hagen (says ‘Golp’ Champ instead of ‘Golf’)
40. Aileen Riggin
41a. Jack Dempsey – Heavyweight Champ
41b. Jack Dempsey – Ex-Heavyweight Champ
42a. Pancho Villa – Flyweight Champ
42b. Pancho Villa – Ex-Flyweight Champ
43a. Johnny Dundee – Featherweight Champ
43b. Johnny Dundee – Ex-Featherweight Champ
44a. Gene Tunney – Light Heavyweight Champ
44b. Gene Tunney – Heavyweigtht Champ
45. Mickey Walker
46. Luis Firpo
47. George Carpentier
48. Benny Leonard
49a. Abe Goldstein – Bantamweight Champ
49b. Abe Goldstein – Bantamweight Champ, no number
49c. Abe Goldstein – Ex-Bantamweight Champ
50. Charlie Ledoux