Pre-War Bargains: Tris Speaker 1920s W512 Strip Card
Strip cards are often good sources when bargain hunting for pre-war issues. One of the most common sets are the W512 cards.
The W512 strip card set is believed to have been printed over a three-year period from 1925-27. Those dates are basically confirmed due to several variations in the set. The set included ten baseball players as well as a variety of other athletes as well as some actors and actresses.
Those aforementioned variations noted changes in status to several of the personalities, such as team/retirement changes in the baseball players or champions losing their individual titles in other sports, such as tennis and boxing. The set includes 50 cards and a follow-up issue, W513, was printed in 1928 and also included 50 cards.
W512 Tris Speaker Card
The strip cards are among the most collected and, really, there are plenty of bargains here. That even holds true for the Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb cards, which you can usually buy in low-grade condition for around $200-$300. But one of the great bargains in the set is the Tris Speaker card.
Speaker was still playing by the time the set was released, which is a big bonus. While a nice card, his 1933 Goudey issue, which is somewhat popular with collectors, was printed several years after his career had already ended. The W512 card is a bit more attractive from that standpoint in that Speaker was still an active player.
I also like the card because, while it’s not a great likeness of speaker, it’s not terribly offensive, either. Some strip issues (W9316 may be the worst of the bunch) are downright horrible to look at. Even though this one isn’t great, there are many worse.
Like several athletes in the set, Speaker is one that has a variation. His original and earlier card states that he is with Cleveland. Both seem to be about equally rare but the earlier one sometimes sells for a little more. If you’re looking for the best bargain, his later variation is probably it. This one mentions that Speaker is the Ex-Manager of Cleveland (he was a player/manager of the club).
Interestingly, as I wrote for Sports Collectors Daily, gambling allegations likely played some role in the Ex-Manager designation for both he and Ty Cobb.
Speaker is a Hall of Famer and, even in low-grade condition, his non-strip cards typically top $100. But when this card is available at a straight auction, it’s often in the $30-$40 range. I’ve even gotten low-grade ones for as little as $15. Typically, the worse a strip card is cut, the lower the value. So if you’re looking for the lowest price, keep that in mind.