An intriguing envelope could be the key to identifying a new pre-war baseball issue
So, if you’ve found this article, you may be aware of the R316 Kashin photos set. In short, they are a set of 101 small baseball photographs of players produced around 1929-30, cataloged as R316. Little is known about the supposed publisher, Kashin, but an interesting envelope came my way recently that has the potential to identify a new baseball issue that could be linked to them.
We’re going to be doing a lot of jumping around in this article. But in short, we’re going to look at four different sets:
- W618 Kashin Movie Stars
- R316 Kashin Baseball Photos
- E243 Brody Movie Stars
- Brody Baseball Stars (Unknown to date)
Brody Baseball Stars
What are Brody Baseball Stars? Well, if you’ve not heard of them, you’re certainly not alone. These are, as far as we know, an uncataloged issue and, to my knowledge, nobody knows what they are.
This all sprung from a picture of an envelope from a reader named Tom. Tom sent an image of an envelope he purchased on eBay in the early 2000s, inquiring about more information.
Tom’s envelope, shown here says these were something called Baseball Stars and came with some sort of candy and portrait of a player for one cent. The back mentions that they are the creation of something called the Brody Novelty Candy Package Company, Inc., which was based on Broadway in New York.
The back also says that by returning five of these envelopes along with ten cents or stamps, the collector could receive an album capable of holding 48 pictures. As we’ll see later, that 48 pictures might have nothing to do with how many were in a set.
The envelope is 3 3/4″ x 5 3/4″ in size and, while it looks small here, it is actually large enough to hold a traditional postcard.
I did some digging, starting with that name, the Brody Novelty Candy Package Company. While I found next to nothing on the company itself, I did find that this wasn’t their only foray into photos of celebrities.
Without too much trouble, I found a very similar looking envelope to our Brody Baseball Stars envelope. You can see the front of it here, but what we really need is the back. These were called Big Stars envelopes. The immediate thing that stands out, obviously, is the similarity to the envelopes for these, which held photos created by Brody of movie stars.
The back is done the exact same way, also making the offer that an album could be had in exchange for five of the envelopes and ten cents. Even the fonts are the same and the same mention that the buyer could examine the contents before purchasing is made on both.
So, we don’t know what was packaged inside of the Brody Baseball Stars envelope. But do we know what was inside of the Big Stars envelope?
E243 Brody Novelty Photos
Inside of the Brody Big Stars envelopes were pictures of movie stars. This one shown here features actor Reginald Denny.
We can easily link these to the Big Star envelopes because, at the bottom of the backs was the same offer on the envelopes, telling collectors that if they returned five of the Big Star envelopes, they could receive an album for their pictures of movie stars. These, very definitively, were the photos that were inside of the Brody Big Star envelopes.
These photos are categorized in the American Card Catalog as E243. The E243 issue was a set of movie star photos/cards believed to have been printed in 1926. These are 3 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ black and white photos.
It is important to note that there are actually two types of E243 backs. One has a checklist of 49 photos while the other has 50. That is important because the Brody Big Star envelopes make an offer for an album that can hold 48 photos. Presumably, that would be the number of photos in the set. However, that is not true and we can thus also conclude that the Brody Baseball Stars can have more or less than 48 photos as well. Brody was merely giving away an album capable of holding 48 photos. They were not conclusively saying that was the number in either set.
But how does this tie to Kashin? Keep reading.
W618 Kashin Movie Star Photos and R316 Kashin Baseball Stars
The most interesting thing about the E243 Brody Movie Star photos is that they are basically a parallel issue of another set of movie star photos produced by Kashin, the folks that made the R316 baseball photos.
The Kashin W618 cards look exactly like the Brody E243s. Many of the same images (if not entirely the same ones) were used in the set. The primary difference when it comes to the photos themselves are the backs. E243 backs included a checklist while W618s had blank backs. Some E243s have been cited as having blank backs. However, I expect they might be simply confused for the blank-backed W618s.
So, the Brody E243s were distributed in envelopes. What about the W618 Kashins? Well, those were distributed inside of these interesting looking boxes.
The boxes help explain why the Kashins were blank-backed, I suppose. That’s because the backs had a checklist of the set.
Now, if that box looks familiar to you, that’s because you’ve likely recognized the design from the boxes for Kashin’s R316 Baseball Stars set. Like the movie stars pictures, these were photos of baseball players. The design was quite similar as were the boxes.
Shown here is a picture of one of the R316 Kashin baseball photos as well as a box for them.
Fronts of the boxes, as you can see, are virtually identical to the W618 Kashin movie stars boxes. Same type of design as well as the accompanying opening to see what the cards look like.
The lone minor difference here is that Kashin included 25 baseball players in each box as opposed to the 24 in the W618 set.
We do not know who was behind the Brody Novelty Candy Package Company, the producer of those last two sets. But we do know who probably ran Kashin Publications – a man named Maurice Kashin.
Maurice Kashin and Brody Novelty
The possible founder of Kashin, as identified by collector Todd Schultz in this Net54 thread, is Maurice Kashin.
Maurice lived in New York City where Kashin Publications was located and worked on a theater on Broadway (where Brody was also located). His main claim to fame was in theater operations so the W618 movie star photos would have been right up his alley. Specifically, he helped theaters make themselves more marketable through clever advertising and lobby displays. Kashin, as this mention in a publication called ‘The Moving Picture Weekly’ suggests, was quite successful at his job.
“That man is Maurice Kashin. He signs himself M. Kashin, and there are thousands of people who believe that the M. stands for Money. It has stood for that in a good many cities where M. Kashin has conducted moving picture theatres.”
Kashin wasn’t only limited to New York, either. He helped theaters all around the country with their displays and also found success through theaters in Montreal, Canada where he had his own theater. That’s going to be potentially important for something I mention later.
Now, he clearly would have had an interest in the movie star photos but what about the R316 baseball photos? Why would Kashin, as a movie theater guru, be interested in those? Well, Kashin baseball photos are generally blank-backed. However, several have been found with, you guessed it, theater advertisements. The back of one such card of Frank Hurst is actually shown here as it was good for free admission to the Morton Theatre.
This is really a smoking gun of sorts here. The baseball pictures were very clearly used to serve as a promotion for movie theaters. Kashins with back advertisements for theaters paint the picture even more that they were the work of Maurice Kashin. I have little doubt that Maurice was indeed the man behind Kashin Publications.
Unfortunately, we don’t know as much about Brody Novelty. The formal name of the company was the Brody Novelty Candy Package Company, Inc. and they were based at 676 Broadway in New York City (again, Kashin also worked on Broadway). But beyond that, little info is know about them. I believe Maurice could have been linked to Brody but in what capacity remains unknown.
Are All R316 Kashin Photos As They Seem?
So, let’s have a refresher of the correlation between the known Kashin and Brody sets and how they were distributed:
Similar Sets Group #1 – Movie Stars
- W618 Kashin Movie Stars in a box
- E243 Brody Movie Stars – parallel set in an envelope
Similar Sets Group #2 – Baseball Stars
- R316 Kashin Baseball Stars in a box (same type as W618 box)
- Unknown Brody Baseball Stars in an envelope (same type as E243 envelope)
Here are images of the modes of distribution for these sets.
From left to right, we’ve got the W618 Kashin Movie Stars Box, the E243 Brody Movie Stars Envelope, the R316 Kashin Baseball Box, and the unknown Brody Baseball Envelope. Assuming those correlate, what we could have in that last Brody Baseball envelope is … a baseball photo that looks like the R316 Kashins.
Just as some E243 and W618s have been confused for each other, I believe that some issues that we are calling R316 Kashins could indeed be photos that were issued in the Brody Baseball Stars envelopes.
Look, too, at the names on those two baseball issues. Kashin’s baseball set was called Baseball Stars, right? That’s exactly what the Brody envelopes say their baseball photos are – Baseball Stars.
Sure, I suppose other sets were merely called Baseball Stars, too. And it could also be pointed out that the movie star names did not match entirely (Motion Picture Stars vs. Big Stars). But when you look at the history of the only known Kashin and Brody sets combined with the potential link between the two companies, I’d suggest that some photos we classify as R316 Kashins are not in fact Kashins, but Brodys.
Distinguishing R316 Kashin Photos from Brody Baseball Photos
So, if that is correct, how could the two be distinguished? Do they have any differences? There are indeed two types of what we call R316 Kashin photos.
The most common R316 type are those found without a Made in USA designation on the front. These, I’m guessing, would be the Kashins. I say that because plenty of Kashin boxes have been discovered and the Kashins without that print are the more common version. The second type has a Made in USA print. In theory, those could be the Brody issues.
Shown here for some context are photos of Babe Ruth. His Kashin photo on the left has the standard version without the ‘Made in U.S.A.’ text. However, the one on the right does have that text in the lower right corner.
Some have indicated that the photos could have been issued internationally because of that additional text. It has also been noted that those ‘Made in U.S.A.’ photos seem to be found in Canada quite a bit. A Canadian release would also help explain the scarcity of the Brody Baseball Stars envelopes. To date, this is the only one I have ever seen.
And remember what I mentioned earlier. We know that Maurice Kashin also operated at least one theater in Canada. Further, he helped theaters there with promotion of their lobbies. Could the Brody issues made their way there with his assistance?
Closing Thoughts and Candy Connection
Is this theory correct? Well, about 2,000 words later, I’m still not 100% positive. And, there are questions. For example, if some Kashins really were Brody baseball photos, why don’t they have the Brody name on them like the E243 movie star set does? The Brody Baseball Stars issues could simply be a different issue instead since we know there are several anonymous sets around.
I don’t yet have all the answers but I do know the Brody baseball envelope very clearly identifies photos that we do not know about. And looking at what was packaged in Kashin’s boxes compared to what was packaged in the Brody E243 envelope, I personally think that the photos in there should look like R316 Kashins.
One final point I wanted to make here is regarding the classification of the R316s.
Something that has irked collectors for some time is the odd American Card Catalog designation of Kashin’s R316 photos as candy/gum issues.
There is the idea that Burdick simply did not know that they were Kashins and assumed they were a random candy issue. However, it is clear to me that he had seen the Kashin box for them. Why? Not only do we still have many examples today, but he also calls them ‘Portraits in Action.’ He likely could not have come up with the ‘In Action’ part of that on his own and that is a phrase specifically found on the Kashin box. That means that he should have known that Kashin Publications was the producer of that set.
Seemingly, they would have better fit the M-Card designation (which is what Burdick used for publications). Interestingly, though, he calls them a candy issue and that’s exactly what Brody was – a novelties and candy company. Did Burdick possibly know something that we don’t?