The 1930 Blue Ribbon Malt set is nearly 100 years old and still contains some mysteries. This set of photo premiums featuring players from the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox, for example, does not even have a fully known checklist.
But with a recent discovery made by Heritage Auctions, we’re at least significantly closer to potentially finding one.
About the 1930 Blue Ribbon Malt Set
The 1930 Blue Ribbon Malt issue includes individual photos that were distributed to customers. The exact mode of distribution isn’t really known but the photos are believed to likely be part of some sort of redemption program.
The photos featured major leaguers from the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox. These black and white photos were matted against a gray background and have replica signatures on them.
The set includes numerous big names, mostly from the Cubs’ side. Among the key Cubs are Hall of Famers Kiki Cuyler, Gabby Hartnett, Rogers Hornsby, Ray Schalk (who played with the White Sox but was a coach for the Cubs), and Hack Wilson. The White Sox also have some key players, such as Hall of Famers Red Faber and Ted Lyons.
In general, the photos are pretty rare. Not impossibly rare but not easy to find, either. It’s a desirable set for pre-war collectors, particularly for fans of the Cubs and White Sox.
Heritage recently auctioned a massive group of (45) 1930 Blue Ribbon Malt photos. The lot sold for nearly $8,000 and you rarely see so many at once. The most alarming thing about the auction, however, is that the lot included several new additions to the White Sox checklist.
Typically, whenever checklists are expanded, it’s by one or two pieces. For example, as I wrote recently, a new discovery of a single photo was made in the 1938 Sawyer Biscuit cabinets set. When you find one new item that was previously unchecklisted, it’s cause for recognition.
The Heritage find included 13 new photos.
That so many new photos were discovered in one shot is beyond significant. But that so many were missing has never been a surprise to pre-war collectors familiar with the set. The Cubs have 28 photos known to the public while, before the Heritage find, the White Sox had only 11 (ten recognized in the Standard Catalog and one, Alex Metzler, that was not but has been graded by SGC). Because of that, I’d always imagined many more White Sox photos existed. The challenge, of course, was finding them.
The new additions now bring the White Sox checklist to 24.
New Photos Added to the Checklist
So, here are the 13 new additions to the checklist:
- Chick Autry
- Ted Blankenship
- Pat Caraway
- Bud Clancy
- Dave Harris
- Dutch Henry
- Bill Hunnefield
- Ivan Jeffries
- Mike Kelly
- Joe Klinger
- Hal McKain
- Jim Moore
- John Riddle
The Ivan Jeffries photo is shown here, courtesy of Heritage.
None of the players were everyday starters with the team in 1930 but Caraway was a starter of sorts as the No. 2 guy in the pitching rotation. And since that was his first season, this is actually a rookie issue for him. He went 10-10 with the White Sox in 1930 with a 3.86 ERA and didn’t last long in the majors. He would lose a league-high 24 games in 1931 before finishing his major league career after a 2-6 stint in 1932.
The find is also intriguing because it offers us new examples for some players that don’t have many cards and collectibles. In addition to Caraway, another one of those is Mike Kelly. Kelly was a coach with the White Sox in 1930 (and ironically, later with the Cubs) and a career minor leaguer.
Checklisting Confusion with Posters and Final Thoughts
But wait – you might say you’ve seen some of these players on other checklists. So, here’s the deal.
It should be noted that some checklisters have used the list of player images found on separate advertising posters that Blue Ribbon created to create a checklist for this photo set. These posters (the White Sox poster is shown here) used the same images for players that were included in this set.
If a player is included in this set and was on the poster, their image was the same. The problem is that some checklisters erroneously believe that the players featured on the poster perfectly align with the checklist of players with photo premiums. That, however, is not true.
While the list of players with photo premiums and the list of players featured on the poster are relatively close to being identical, some players with photos in the set are not found on the poster and vice versa. A checklist of the photo premiums cannot be created using the list of players featured on the posters for that reason. Several players (Autry, Caraway, Clancy, Henry, Kelly, McKain, and Moore) were featured on the White Sox posters and were likely included in some checklists in error since they were merely listed because they were pictured on the poster. They had been pictured on the poster but their photo in this set was not known to exist.
Similarly, the rest of the new discoveries listed above (Blankenship, Harris, Hunnefield, Jeffries, Klinger, and Riddle) have photos in the set but were not featured on the poster.
Clear as mud?
Because of the six new White Sox additions that were not featured on the advertising poster, I’m convinced that there are still many photos still not found. I believe that most, if not all of the players featured on the poster have photos. And based on the six White Sox players that were not on it, we know that a good bit of the checklist now includes players not pictured on the poster. A complete checklist of something like 30-35 players and coaches from each team for the set is entirely conceivable.
Overall, this is a really exciting discovery. Not only for the new players discovered but because of the sheer volume of new additions to the checklist.