Are These the Most Confusing Pre-War Cards of All-Time?

There were a lot of crazy looking cards in the pre-war card days. I mean, a lot. I just wrote about one recently, the Bill Burns T206 card, which appears to show him with the wrong glove on.

But this? This might take the cake.

Sociedade Industrial Cards

Believed to be from the 1930s, an unnamed multi-sport set was printed. A specific name for the set isn’t known but we do know it was created by Sociedade Industrial dos Tobacos de Angola (translated loosely as the Industrial Tobacco Society of Angola.

This company actually created a slightly more well known (and likely, larger) multi-sport set in 1928 that included a total of at least 25 baseball cards, among other subjects. The cards are rare, but not entirely unknown. The 1930s set, however, is mostly off the radar. The only cards I have seen in the set, in fact, are these two, which used to belong to Leon Luckey of the Net54 board.

At least two baseball cards are known and both are weird. One features Hall of Fame pitcher Grover Alexander batting while a second features the legendary Babe Ruth.

The Ruth and Alexander cards are No. 37 and No. 38 in the set. The caption on the cards of ‘Am. do Norte’ indicates they are from North America, leading us to believe that this was a set that covered sports from around the globe. That theory seems likely as there were numerous international sets (particularly tobacco card issues such as this) that followed that same model.

Babe Ruth and Grover Alexander Cards

1930s Sociedade Industrial dos Tabacos de AngolaWhile the Alexander card is strange since it shows him hitting instead of pitching, the Ruth card is otherworldly. Numerous errors and oddities exist on it.

For one thing, the player shown is pitching. While Ruth was a pitcher earlier in his career, he wasn’t known as a hurler when this set was believed to have been produced. An even bigger problem, however, is that the player shown is right-handed and Ruth was a lefty. Plus, if we’re complaining about the card, we might as well throw in the fact that the player is far too thin and doesn’t look anything like Ruth. Finally, the glove that he is wearing looks gigantic.

But by far, the weirdest thing is that Ruth isn’t shown tossing a baseball. Instead, it looks more like a rugby ball or a football.

I love detective work on older cards but for this, I’ve got nothing. This is too odd for even me. There appears to be no rational explanation here and my only conclusion can be that, whoever created the card, had the sports mixed up and used a picture that didn’t show a ball in it. Wanting to add it in, however, the wrong ball was clearly inserted.

Reversed Images?

As I’ve studied these cards for a while now, one idea that has constantly floated around in my head is that the pictures were reversed. Not reversed in a photo negative sense, rather, that the Ruth card is supposed to depict Alexander and the Alexander card, Ruth.

I believe that for two reasons.

Grover Alexander Babe Ruth Sociedade ImageFirst, Ruth is clearly known as a batter while Ruth was a pitcher. To show the players doing the exact opposite of what they were known for makes little sense. I can only conclude that the names were mixed up on the pictures.

More evidence suggesting that is that Alexander was indeed a right-hander. Not only that, but several images actually depict him in poses very similar to the Ruth card here. One in particular looks very close – this black and white one shown here.

The image is not identical to the one on the card but imagine it at a slightly different angle. Pretend you were the photographer of that card. If you took a few steps to the right, you get virtually the exact pose used on the card. Mostly everything else, from the placement of the hand, to the head facing to the left, to the angles on the feet would match up perfectly. And even if this picture (or a similar picture at a different angle) wasn’t the one used, the style of throwing is very similar.

Now, what doesn’t make sense, still, is the fact that the batter is also shown as a right-hander and Ruth batted left. My only guess here is that the company desperately wanted to include him in the set but possibly did not have an image for him and simply pictured a generic batter.

Whatever the case, these are two messed up cards.

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