Digging into Rarity for 1930s Dixie Lids Backs
What are the most common (and most difficult) 1930s Dixie Lids backs?
The Dixie Lids backs of the 1930s (more specifically, 1937 and 1938) are similar to several sets, including T206. That’s because they come with a variety of sponsor advertisements on the backs.
These items featured pictures of famous athletes (as well as actors/actresses) on one side and were cardboard lids for ice cream products. The lids were made by Dixie and then used with all sorts of ice cream brands. They were printed in 1937 and 1938 (and later sets came in the post-war era as well). If you’re unfamiliar with these sets, neither is particularly large when it comes to the athletes. A total of six are in each set and figure skater Sonja Heine, who was an actress in the 1938 set, could be counted as a seventh.
But the backs are one of the more interesting things to me. Premiums are not often paid for them but some dealers that understand the rarity of some will charge more for the non-common ones. However, to date, I’ve not seen anyone take a look into trying to determine which backs are the tougher ones.
Such a feat is not really an easy one. While SGC will grade them with the back name on the label, PSA does not and keeps no records in the population report. They also are not terribly common. That is easy to understand for two reasons. First, they were merely lids on ice cream products. Even though they had pictures on them, they weren’t really trading cards, per se. Second, Dixie Lids also offered 8X10 photo premiums. Those were really the collectibles and I suspect that some people collected those and ditched the lids.
Still, a good number of them have survived because, well, we’re a society of pack rats. Collectors keep everything and this is indicative of that.
What I wanted to do was try to find a way to determine some sort of scale of rarity for these. The only real way to do that without going from collector to collector to see what they had was by searching online. So that’s what I did. I went to eBay for both current and past listings. Then I went to Google. Then I went to auction house websites. Basically, wherever I could get images of the backs out there.
In all, I found about 180 that I believed to be different, though a few did not show or list the backs. Some duplication probably exists but I tried to scrub that as much as possible, eliminating ones that looked to be similar to what I’d seen elsewhere. In the end, I believe this data is pretty sound. Here’s what I came up with. After the table, I’ll offer some thoughts.
Bang, Golden State, Luick, Medo-Land, Netherland, Peek-a-Boo, Swift, Teall’s, Tilly, Velvet Brand Arctic, & Wiseman Farms.
|Dixie Lid Back||Number Seen|
|Dixie (No Brand)||1|
|Hoodsie / Hood’s||15|
|Steffen’s||35 (part of an uncut sheet)|
|Sunfreze (Red or blue)||12|
|Velvet Brand Arctic||1|
A few disclaimers here. Obviously, the population of these is much larger that what I have in the table. One collector may have a mini hoard of a particular brand and things like that are unaccounted for. Additionally, you can almost be positive that other brands exist. Many of these are so rare and, frankly, I would be shocked if at least another 5-10 brands are known that are not listed here.
That said, what can this particular table tell us? When I first started this project, the main thought I had was that the Hood’s Ice Cream/Hoodsie backs were the most plentiful as I’d seen them quite a bit. Other than that, my knowledge was pretty limited. That seems to be the case as those had the most seen with 15. But other plentiful ones are certainly Meadow Gold, Velvet, and Sunfreze. Those, to me, are your commons and should generate the least value, all things considered. I’d value all about the same.
Note that the Steffen’s advertisement was added to this list in 2019. At first glance, it appears to be a common back based on the large number. However, that is misleading as the ones seen were part of a fully preserved uncut sheet that had not been distributed. The back, like most others here, is quite rare.
But beyond that, it’s tough to get a good handle on much else. Obviously, with only about 130 considered, we don’t have an entire population on these. So I’m not sure we can conclusively say that something like Reid’s (with three) is significantly easier to obtain than the ones with only a single copy shown. I suppose that based on this, the next most common ones would be Abbott, Bartholomay, Breyers, Fenn’s, Frechtling’s, Marigold, Pride, Reid’s, Sharpless, Supplee, and Turnbull’s. But it’s too tough to say, really.
In my opinion, the most reasonable thing we can conclude here is that Hood’s/Hoodsie, Meadow Gold, Sunfreze, and Velvet are easily the most common. Beyond that, it’s sort of a crap shoot.