Famed hobbyist Jefferson Burdick provided the American Card Catalog, arguably the most valuable resource in the history of card collecting. Despite that comprehensive publication and more in-depth ones that have been released since then, it’s clear that many mysteries remain surrounding pre-war cards.
That’s evident in the many missing gaps, of course. For example, who printed and distributed the Anonymous E98, Anonymous E101, or Anonymous E102 cards? Or what about the T213-1 Coupon cards – should these be classified as T206 as many suggest?
Is there really a 1928 Star Player Candy Lou Gehrig card? Or why exactly did Honus Wagner seek to be excluded from the T206 set? We know quite a bit about pre-war cards, how they were created/distributed, etc. But there is still a lot still up in the air.
One interesting thing is that some missing gaps are being filled in when, in fact, we didn’t even know voids existed. New discoveries are still being made quite often. I’m not even talking about recent finds of cards such as the eight new Ty Cobb advertising-backed cards or the large collection of tobacco cards that a Pennsylvania owner just found in an old house. No, I’m talking about completely new cards that were not previously known to the hobby.
That term, ‘previously known to the hobby,’ is kind of a misleading one. Obviously, if the cards were in someone’s collection, they were known by, well, somebody. Here, though, we’re talking about cards that are not known to a widespread degree. They may have been previously known but since went forgotten and have eluded recent checklists.
It may seem odd that entirely new cards are still being discovered but it happens more frequently than you think.
Case in point, I just wrote of a new E104 Nadja Caramel card of Fred Tenney brought forth to me by a collector. The card was not known in even the most in-depth checklists and it sat in the hands of a collector who has had it for a few decades. But there have also been more.
A lot more.
A new Babe Ruth card, for example, just made its way into the spotlight just this spring, discovered by Beckett. And also this spring, I cataloged new trade cards that had not been previously checklisted in the H804-34 Pink and Blue set as well as in the H804-41 Girl Series set. There have also been a plethora of other new discoveries recently, too, including one in the 1930 Blue Ribbon Malt set and in the 1938 Sawyer Biscuit set. Those are just a few of the recent ones from the past six months.
None of this even accounts for new variations or error cards that have recently been known. Things like the ‘Missing ie’ T206 Polar Bear variation that has only been discovered in recent years. Or the T205 John Titus print mark variation I just stumbled upon in 2017. All sorts of new information is being recently thrust into the public eye and it’s constantly coming without any end, it seems.
The bottom line is that, while we know a lot about these older cards, there are all kinds of discoveries still to be made by researchers and collectors.