Tale of the Tape: Philadelphia Caramel E95 vs. E96
Comparing Philadelphia Caramel’s two baseball card sets
The Philadelphia Caramel Company produced two sets of baseball cards. In 1909, they issued what later became known as the E95 set and their E96 set was produced in 1910. Let’s take a closer look at comparing both sets.
Card Layout / Design
There isn’t too much value to be had in comparing the two designs. That’s because each set used the same one.
Both sets mimicked other popular sets with white borders, color lithographs, and a checklist on the backs. The pictures are a mix of both portrait and action shots.
On the front in the lower bottom border, the player’s last name and team were printed. The only thing missing from other similar sets, really, are the players’ positions.
The design is not a spectacular one but one that is perfectly fine. Unfortunately, there’s no real differentiator here so we’ve got a tie.
Pictured here are cards for Ty Cobb (E95) and Joe Tinker (E96).
Next up, we need to take a look at the two checklists. And unlike the design/layout discussed above, we’ve got a clear winner here in that department.
Philadelphia Caramel didn’t repeat players and loaded up on the big names in the initial E95 issue. It’s not that E96 doesn’t have any big names. But the names found in E95 are just much bigger.
The E95 set featured Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, and Christy Mathewson, along with a slew of other Hall of Famers, including Sam Crawford, Eddie Plank, Frank Chance, Eddie Collins, Johnny Evers, and Chief Bender. Also in the set is Eddie Cicotte of the 1919 Black Sox team and whose cards are treated like those of a Hall of Famer.
E96 has its fair share of stars and with 30 cards, has five more than the 25 in the E95 set. The E96 set includes the likes of Hall of Famers Nap Lajoie, Home Run Baker, Hughie Jennings, Joe Tinker, Three Finger Brown, Fred Clarke, and Rube Marquard. Also notable is one of the few candy cards of then manager Connie Mack. Lots to like in that lineup but the problem is that most of the big names were already seen in E95 a year earlier. None of those E96 players can compare to the top three of Cobb, Wagner, and Matty in E95.
In looking at rarity, the first place I generally start is with the population reports by the three major grading companies, PSA, SGC, and Beckett. That isn’t always foolproof but can help give a first glance at things.
Looking there, E96 looks to be significantly rarer. To date, those companies have graded a total of just over 2,100 cards from that set. Meanwhile, more than twice as many (over 4,500) E95s have been graded by the trio.
I think you can attribute some of that to the big-time stars found in E95 as opposed to E96. After all, collectors will tend to grade the bigger cards the most. But I also took a look on eBay to see how many cards from each set were available and E96 appeared to be rarer in that regard, too. Approximately 200 E95 cards were for sale on eBay as opposed to only about 100 E96s. And keep in mind, as stated, there are actually more cards in the E96 set.
The E96 set appears to be a bit rarer than its E95 counterpart.
The artwork in both sets is, as you’d expect, pretty good. But the pictures in one of them are better than in the other.
While the E95 set has the bigger names, it’s E96 that has the more interesting poses. Both sets have approximately half portrait shots. But the action shots in E96 are just more unique.
Shown below, are some of the more unique poses found in E96. One features a Red Ames at an interesting angle. Another is a full body pose of catcher George Gibson. E96 also boasts the only horizontal card and a front-facing bunt pose of Hall of Famer Fred Clarke is alo so there, too. The images in E96 are better and it’s really not even close.
Additionally, while both sets have their fair of ‘misses’ in terms of quality pictures of players, E95 is dinged severely due to a particularly bad image of Mathewson, a pretty important card.
Both sets are quite popular but there’s no doubt that Philadelphia Caramel’s E95 set gets the most attention from collectors. And that’s mostly because of the major stars found in that one.
E96 is certainly collected but the trio of Cobb, Mathewson, and Wagner steals the show here. Those three cards have made it a more desirable one to pursue.
Comparing these two sets, we’ve got a pretty close verdict. But in the end, it’s the big names in the E95 set that really carries it. It’s more valuable, has bigger names, and is just more popular. And while it’s not as rare and lacks a little in terms of artwork, the verdict still points to the E95 set as the better issue.