The Lections set has something to do with an election but that’s about all we know
It’s Election Day. And when you think of pre-war Election cards, there’s no more unique issue than the incredibly rare and odd 1923 Lections set.
In the 100ish years these cards have been around, we’ve got plenty of bits and theories surrounding their existence. But nearly a century later, there are plenty of mysteries left.
Here’s what we think we know about them. PSA states that a batch of them was found in Albany, New York, and they are often cited as being part of a New York election. What election isn’t 100% clear but, the cards were said to have been given to children while adults received similar cards, but featuring actual candidates during an election. That information even conflicts with other information that has been out there. Heritage Auctions, for example, also cites the Albany find, but believes they are probably a candy issue. Even the exact dating is unclear as the cards could have been issued in 1924 or even over a period of several years.
While pinpointing specifics on them has been difficult, one thing is clear. And that’s that many of them are found in absolutely rotten shape.
Sure, some of these cards exhibit the general wear and tear you might be accustomed to with other pre-war issues. There’s creasing, writing, and just general damage that has resulted from being in circulation for so long. But the overwhelming characteristic with regards to damage sustained by them is that many are filled with holes. The amount of ‘holiness’ varies quite a bit. But many of them are in fact found with these punch holes through them.
The origin of the holes, like the origin of the cards in general, is a mystery. They could have been punched as some sort of a contest. Or maybe they were punched by vendors at an event signifying something like an attendee stopping by a booth. Or, as a regional issue, it’s even possible that many were in the hands of only a few collectors, who simply did the damage themselves, similar to what we’ve seen with the infamous Toy Town stamped-cards. Whatever the reason, you’ll often see them filled with holes, such as this Babe Ruth card here.
Now, the holes do affect the value, just like you probably thought they would. I mean, no one wants a card that looks like it was an unintended target of Woody Woodpecker. But what you might be surprised to learn is that the cards are still quite valuable, even with more holes than your standard slice of Swiss cheese.
For example, the Ruth shown here fetched almost $600 in a Heritage Auction. Obviously Ruth is a big name but even commons in terrible shape can fetch more than $100. So what gives?
Well, this is a case of rarity, plain and simple. The cards are not easy to find and people collecting the players in them or trying to piece together a set will pay through the nose for them, sometimes in virtually any condition. There are a total of ten cards in the set and currently, PSA has graded only about 30. That’s not about 30 per player. That’s the total number of any cards, period.
The rarity sounds ludicrous at first. But when you realize that these were an issue that were possibly issued only in Albany and for a very short period of time, it makes much more sense.
Now, more do exist. SGC has graded about 50 and I’ve also seen a surprising number (at least based on how many were known) on eBay in the past two years. I’ve seen a total of about 3-4 raw sets there. One seller had a bunch of them and I inquired as to their origins. I was told the seller was an antique shop and they had simply come into their possession from a third party. These were not the fakes as you so commonly see with this issue – rather, they were 100% legitimate, and selling for big money as a result.
Still, the cards are quite rare and that has driven up the prices — holes or no holes.