Rare Pifer & Becker Cabinets Linking to 1893 Just So Tobacco Cards on the Auction Block

SCP Auctions’ spring auction is underway with a number of intriguing items. Chief among them is a set of rare cabinet cards featuring players from the Cleveland Spiders.

As I wrote recently at Sports Collectors Daily, the cabinets are from the collection of Jake Virtue. Virtue was a former player in the late 1800s and played for the Cleveland Spiders in the 1890s. While several of Virtue’s teammates are featured in the collection, including Hall of Famers John Clarkson and George Davis, highlighting the collection are a pair of Cy Young cabinets. The auction is now underway and will run until March 24.

Over the years, Virtue’s family kept the cards as well as some other keepsakes from his playing days. While the cabinets would be special, anyway, a few of these are even more significant.

Two major findings have come out of this collection. For one thing, as SCP notes, it is possible that one of the two Young cabinets is his first image as a professional player. Young’s Hall of Fame career began with Cleveland in 1890 and one of the Young cabinets, produced by John H. Ryder, dates to 1891 or 1892.

Second, some of the other cabinets are also definitively linked to the rare 1893 Just So Tobacco set.

1893 Just So Tobacco Set

93JS Young


While it has been previously known that the Pifer and Becker cabinets were the same images used for the 1893 Just So Tobacco set, it’s not a fact that is widespread throughout the hobby. Few collectors outside of the pre-war arena could even identify the Just So Tobacco cards, let alone tell you where the pictures came from.

The Pifer & Becker cabinets featured pictures that were utilized in the Just So Tobacco set. By way of comparison, note the two Cy Young issues here (cabinet on the left).

The 1893 Just So Tobacco cards are incredibly rare. 16 are found in a set with one being distributed inside of Just So’s products. We know that from advertising posters that pictured the cards and mentioned the promotion.

While the Pifer & Becker cabinets are rare, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen them. In fact, SCP previously sold an incredible example Young autographed Pifer & Becker cabinet in 2014. But they come around so rarely that they are notable each time you see one.

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