E98 Old Put Cigar: When Caramel Cards Become Tobacco Cards
A rare variation of E98s has turned some caramel cards into tobacco issues
The E98 set is believed to be a candy/caramel card issue but its exact origins are unknown. And despite some best guesses on the producer of the set, it is hailed as an anonymous issue with no firm information provided to locate the original source of them.
While they are assumed by many to be a caramel card issue, that has never been definitively proven. In fact, the famous Black Swamp Find sort of indicates they were not solely candy cards at all as a large stack of them were found by a family that previously owned a meat market. Much has been made of the fact that the cards were found in the same city as a candy business, the Defiance Candy Company. But that is certainly no guarantee they were a candy issue — particularly because of the large find at the meat market.
Like the M101-4 and M101-5 cards produced by Felix Mendelsohn, E98 cards were more likely distributed by several companies that wanted to use them as some sort of insert or giveaway. The pattern of creating a set of cards and then peddling them to numerous businesses was not an idea unique to only the Mendelsohn issues. And, as was done with several strip card issues, some businesses probably acquired cards and merely stamped their information on them.
The E98 set is pretty short and to the point. Including a total of 30 cards, it features players against a solid color background. The hitch here is that, while there are only 30 main cards to the set, players can be found with more than one color background, creating a much larger master set for those of you that enjoy wild goose chases and such.
But while these are classified as an E-Card/candy card, some of them can actually be considered tobacco cards.
At least some of the cards found their way into the hands of the Old Put Cigar company. Much about that company isn’t known today but backs of a number of E98 cards include their stamp, indicating they likely distributed them to customers or possibly even included them into their cigar boxes.
Shown here, the stamps on these cards are purple and the message is simple. ‘Old Put 5 Ct. Cigar’ is the short and to-the-point advertisement used by the company.
Some discussion has occurred about the ‘Ct.’ part of that and if it was intended to mean the cigars were five-cents or if five of them came in a box — a five count of cigars. I am almost certain that it was the price that was indicated as many cigar companies touted their price with their advertisements. Five cents and ten cents was a pretty common price for them and I strongly believe the price is the statement here.
The cards can be easy to miss for a few reasons. First, the stamps on some can be light or a bit faint. Second, back stamps are common on many cards and even if a collector encounters one of these, they may not know exactly what it is. More importantly than both of those reasons, the cards are carbon copies of regular E98 cards.
The cards are exactly the same, save for the Old Put stamp on the back and looking at them from the front wouldn’t provide any distinction.
Old Put cards are pretty rare but not impossible to find. Collectors should know there is a significant premium for them over a regular E98 card. Commons, such as this Red Dooin SC 20 sold by Love of the Game Auction, can easily sell for more than $500. As a point of context, the same card without the Old Put stamp would likely be about 1/10 of that price.