A rare 1930s hockey issue may finally have a complete checklist
For years, the 1930s Stoodleigh hockey cards sat in obscurity and went unnoticed. Heck, even when they were discovered, a full checklist was not known to the hobby.
But thanks to a recent discovery from an Ontario collector, we now have a much clearer picture of the set and, quite possibly, a full checklist.
Unless you are a supremely dedicated hockey card collector, chances are that you haven’t heard of the obscure 1933 Stoodleigh set. Stoodleigh’s was a restaurant in Toronto and a picture of the establishment is documented on this old postcard. Their selling point, really, was an ‘Old English Atmosphere,’ which is how the venue is described on the reverse of this postcard.
Stoodleigh’s, like a lot of businesses, used sports as part of various promotions, and no sport is bigger in Canada, obviously, than hockey. In the 1930s, the company printed an obscure set of ‘cards’ featuring hockey players on one side and the 1933 home schedule of the local Toronto Maple Leafs on the back. Now, instead of printing the home schedule for the entire 1932-33 season, which began in November 1932, these cards promoted only the home slate from January 31, 1933 through March. Thus, we can safely say that these cards would have probably been offered for only those months and possibly shortly before that.
That has affected what we know about the dating and there are differing opinions. For example, PSA lists these as 1932 issues while others call them 1933 cards. 1933 has always seemed more likely to me as the earliest January home games were not mentioned. Thus, it is difficult to believe they would have been printed in 1932 and my guess is they were printed at some point in the month of January after the earlier games had passed. However, there are still questions about the exact dating.
The ‘cards’ really have the appearance of more of a bookmark. They are printed on cardboard but are long and narrow, measuring about 5″ long. With a schedule on the back and the Stoodleigh’s name on the front (the exact name for the cards is the Stoodleigh Sports Series), it’s clear they were meant to be more of a promotional item and a ‘temporary’ item as opposed to a traditional trading card.
Over the weekend, I received an email from a collector in Canada named Mike. Specifically, he is from Toronto where these cards originated from. Mike had what I would consider to be some pretty exciting news in that he has managed to get his hands on what could be a complete set of them.
That is noteworthy because they are extremely rare. The only ones I had previously heard about, in fact, were ones that resided in the Hockey Hall of Fame and a single, graded card by PSA that appears to be in a private collection. None have been graded by SGC or Beckett and these are next to impossible to find. The best-known checklist for the cards, in fact, included only four known.
Mike’s discovery included the four previously known cards — No. 2 Lorne Chabot, No. 3 Howie Morenz, No. 4 Harold Cotton, and No. 8 Red Horner. It also included four others not previously known and there are some big names. King Clancy is No. 1 in the set and Ace Bailey is No. 6. Lester Patrick is No. 7 and Tom Daly is No. 5. That gives us eight total known cards and, possibly, rounds out the entire set.
Clancy, Bailey, and Patrick are all Hall of Famers and dramatically add to the prestige of the set. The more puzzling inclusion is that of Daly. Daly was a member of the Maple Leafs but was the team’s trainer. His card is interesting in that he is pictured in a baseball uniform. But that makes sense once you read his biography on the card that mentions he was also the trainer for Toronto’s International League baseball team.
Mike’s family had a collection of cigarette cards that had been buried away. The cards had actually been in storage with no one giving them much of a second though. “We never looked at them, just knew they were in the family,” Mike mentioned. Recently, a relative from the family passed away and that actually led to the discovery.
“Recently, an uncle of my wife’s passed and while looking for family pictures we happened on the box,” Mike said. “So, just last night, while watching the Leafs game, I had a look through the box and couldn’t believe what I found.”
Upon finding the Stoodleigh’s cards, he immediately did some research and it didn’t take long to discover that they cards were pretty rare. How they even ended up in the family’s collection remains a mystery. But a theory exists.
“My wife’s grandfather did own a business not far from where Stoodleigh’s was located and probably it was a favored spot for lunches and dinners knowing the long hours they put into the business,” Mike added.
What could the cards be worth? As with anything this rare, that’s tough to say. I am not even aware of a lone public sale on them so finding a benchmark is incredibly tough. But because the set has some of the game’s earliest stars, including Howie Morenz and King Clancy, it is reasonable to suggest that they could be quite expensive if sold. Even beyond the rarity, the cards appear to be in surprisingly good condition.
So what’s next? Mike plans to have the cards authenticated and likely graded before determining what to do with them. But one thing is for certain — this is a noteworthy discovery of an incredibly rare set.