Three Unchecklisted 1938 Sawyer Biscuit Cabinet Photos Found in Scrapbook
The checklist for the rare set now expands to 52
Now, three more cabinets can be added to the checklist with a new discovery.
The 1938 Sawyer Biscuits, if you’re unfamiliar, were photographs that were offered into red frames. They featured mostly players and coaches from the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox, as well as broadcaster Bob Elson (and, likely, Gillen). These premiums were available with a mail-in offer as part of a promotion for the Sawyer Biscuit Company’s products.
Recently, collector Rick Reiff reached out to me with a rather exciting discovery. Reiff was given a scrapbook of pictures, including several Sawyer Biscuit photos, by an elderly gentleman that was said to have attended Cubs in the 1930s. While unconfirmed, it is possible that this man would have been the original owner of them.
Reiff carefully removed them from the book and, after some research, learned that they were from the 1938 Sawyer Biscuit set. As they were glued into the scrapbook, the photos are all missing the red frame that would have originally accompanied them.
Most of the photos in the book have already been checklisted. But Reiff noticed that three of them were not — Merritt ‘Sugar’ Cain, Newell Kimball, and Red Corriden. Pictures of the three newly-discovered photos are shown here.
Collectors had their pick of which photo they wanted to select and these guys would not likely have been high on wish lists, meaning there would be fewer of them compared to the popular players. None were particularly notable figures, which is why it is not hard to believe they have not been checklisted to date.
Cain pitched in Chicago with the White Sox going 0-1 with a 4.58 in 1938, his final year as a major leaguer. Kimball began his career with the Cubs, pitching in only three games for them combined in 1937 and 1938. Corriden played in the majors from 1910 through 1915 before later becoming a coach with the Cubs in the 1930s.
Some collectors will wonder why they were removed from the frames. But while most are typically seen with the frames, they are also sometimes seen without them. In fact, Sawyer Biscuit’s letter to collectors that accompanied their photos even mentioned that they could be removed from the red frame to be used in any other frame. Some collectors, no doubt, would have taken that approach.
Even without the frames, these can be clearly identified as Sawyer Biscuit cabinets.
For one thing, the photos have the same design with the same font used for the player’s name as is found on other Sawyer Biscuit cabinets. For another, the scrapbook contained several other Sawyer Biscuit photos that are the same as known ones that were distributed with the red frame. Interestingly enough, one of the other Sawyer Biscuit photos in the book was Roy Johnson, who is newly discovered himself. That becomes only the second known Johnson out there, to my knowledge, though others likely exist somewhere. In all, the book had a total of nine Sawyer Biscuits.
Now at 52 cabinets (counting Gillen), it’s pretty clear that this set may not be fully checklisted even now with new discoveries continuing to pop up in recent years.