One of the Most Patriotic Pre-War Baseball Cards is in a Rare 19th Century Set

The N557 Little Rhody set has various sports, countries, and a heavy dose of American patriotism

Several sets in the 19th century featured women athletes as card distributors found a way to combine two things that appealed to tobacco-smoking males — girls and sports. Many female sports cards from that time period are quite rare and the N557 Little Rhody National Sports set is no exception.

The set, if you’re unaware of it, is not a large one. But despite having only ten cards, it is very difficult to complete. Cards in it are quite rare and only pop up for sale from time to time.

W557 Little Rhody BackW557 Little RhodyWhile any card in the set is desirable, one in particular is heavily sought after — a female playing baseball and wielding a bat.

The card in question is shown here and three things make it in demand. There’s, of course, the aforementioned rarity factor. There’s the fact that it is a baseball card while others in the set feature more minor sports. And finally, the card represents America, as stated on the front, and has a really patriotic feel to it. For the fourth of July, it’s an appropriate card to take a closer look at.

The card is a striking one and just has a great look. I’ve commonly cited this as not only one of my favorite tobacco cards, but one of my favorite baseball cards in general. In addition to the front of the card, I love the back just as much with its fully black reverse to go along with the Little Rhody tobacco ad. These are also thicker cards than most 20th century issues, like T206, and that provides for a much sturdier feel.

So how rare are the cards? I’ve personally owned two and have ever only seen a few for sale. In the three years I’ve been looking for them, I’ve bought both that I could find. Many times, you will not find any in the set on eBay, let alone the baseball issue. To date, PSA has graded only two cards in the set (no baseball) and while SGC has graded both of the ones I owned, I am unable to find record of either on their registry.

Finding the card, in any condition, is a significant challenge. And that means it often costs several hundred dollars even in lower-grade condition if you’re fortunate enough to locate one. But when it comes to patriotic 19th century tobacco cards involving baseball, there may not be a better one than this.

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