Baseball Comics Trade Cards – An Inconvenience Even Jefferson Burdick Didn’t Want

Jefferson Burdick, the primary author for the American Card Catalog, did a tremendous job in cataloging cards. So much, in fact, that his designations are still widely used today on older sets.

Burdick is known for his tedious work to catalog practically ever card as best could possibly done. But while he had a lot of tolerance, even some things tested his limits. One of those were trade cards related to baseball comics.

About Baseball Comics Trade Cards

Vertical BrowniesTrade cards, in general, were advertisements. They generally included the name and information for a specific business on one side and a picture on another. Some of those pictures were related to sports and baseball was a primary subject.

Many of the baseball trade issues are comical in nature and that was evident to Burdick as he made his designations. He classified the H804 series as ‘Baseball Comics’ and, well, he got as far as he could. Or at least as far as he wanted to. In all, Burdick cataloged eights sets. All had the H804 name but he gave various sets their own number to keep them separate.

Here are the eight he cataloged:

After that Burdick kind of just gave up. Likely, it became apparent to him that there could be dozens of additional sets. As a result, his final classification in the series was H804-9, which he simply called ‘Others.’

Frank Keetz Picks up the Slack

1886 McLaughlin XXXX Coffee Trade CardBurdick’s lack of further classifications sort of left a big mess. Everything under the sun was basically uncategorized or, if it was, it was lumped all together in H804-9. Fortunately, trade card collector Frank Keetz picked up the slack and did the hobby a tremendous service.

Keetz would go on to continue Burdick’s work. The remarkable thing was that Keetz not only cataloged sets, but he defined checklists for them. He published three versions of his well-known book, Baseball Advertising Trade Cards, and his catalog designations can be seen here.

Keetz’s designations go up to H804-41 and he also identified about 100 other issues that were mostly singles not part of a set.

Other Additions

1914 Richards-Wilcox Baseball Trade CardKeetz covered the spectrum pretty well. His numerous additions accounted for most of the trade card population related to baseball cards and he’s, by far, done the most thorough job of classification of these issues. Keetz has generally become known as the go to guy for trade cards and he is beyond deserving of that title. No one has done more to publicly catalog them to my knowledge and without his books, we would still be considering many of these issues merely as H804-9 as Burdick did.

Even more exist, though. I’ve since added several that were not previously mentioned in Keetz’s book and others surely exist beyond those.

All of this means that it’s evident that we are still learning about these cards. While some were quite plentiful by comparison, others are much rarer, making them difficult to catalog and even to simply verify.


Now, it’s just a matter of continuing to add to the list and continuing the work that Keetz and, before him, Burdick, accomplished.

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