Rare E229 National Licorice and D353 Champions Sets Rare and Virtually Forgotten
The E229 and D353 sets are rare ‘Champions’ issues that mostly fly under the radar
Many pre-war collectors are familiar with the somewhat popular T218 Champions set. That issue not only includes boxing legends such as Jack Johnson but also has champions in all sorts of sports.
But while those cards are relatively plentiful, similar but much rarer sets are not known by many collectors.
In 1910, around the same time of production as the T218 Champions set, three parallel sets were issued that had pretty much the same idea as T218. The most common of the trio is the E229 National Licorice set. These are also called Y&S Stick Licorice or Y&S Licorice Chewing Gum cards as those were both brands produced by the Brooklyn-based National Licorice Company. But the D353 Koesters and Juergens bread sets included the exact same athletes and checklist. The only difference is that those cards, like many bread/bakery issues, are rarer.
The sets are much smaller than the T218 issue leading most to believe that it means they are easier to complete. After all, with only 25 cards each, the E229 and D353 sets have fewer than 1/6 of the cards found in the somewhat large 153-card T218 set. But while there are fewer cards in those sets they are not nearly as plentiful.
T218 cards are pretty easy to find these days. Many are always available on sites such as eBay. But E229 and D353 sets are much different and you hardly ever see cards from those sets. Case in point — PSA has graded more than 8,400 cards from the T218 set to date but has not even graded 50 total cards from E229. D353 cards are much rarer and there, PSA has graded a grand total of a single, solitary card.
In other words, the E229/D353 sets are much smaller but much, much more difficult to complete.
So what’s in the set? A hodgepodge of various athletes with many from track and field. Because of that, most of the names will not be known to collectors who are not already familiar with the T218 set. However, collectors that have some familiarity with T218 will recognize many of the names. Approximately 2/3 of athletes in the E229/D353 sets appear in T218.
Taking it a step further, some of the images are the same or very similar, too.
For example, take the cards of Harry Gissing, a champion runner. Gissing’s T218 card is shown to the left here and his E229/D353 card is pictured on the left. As you can see, the same picture was used for both. The latter merely has a full body pose while the T218 set crops the picture off near his knees. The background of the cards is also slightly different, too. Still, it’s easy to see we’re working with the same images here.
Backs of the cards vary greatly. The E229 set includes a full checklist while the D353 cards merely have advertisements for the bread brands.
So what about the price on these issues? Well, T218 cards are abundant and pretty cheap. Low-grade commons can be bought starting around $2-$3. E229 and D353 cards, by comparison, are closer to $10 or so.
That price is still dirt cheap given the rarity of the cards. But because there are no boxers or big names in the set, there’s simply not much demand for it. They are extremely rare cards but not worth a ton of money, either.
E229 / D353 Champions Checklist
Here’s a full checklist of the set. Interestingly, the cards are not numbered on the front or the back but they do have card numbers assigned to them in the checklist on the back of the E229 cards.
Athletes in bold are also found in the T218 set.
- Ralph Rose
- Joseph Ballard
- Chas. Bacon
- Harry Gissing
- John Flanagan
- Forest Smithson
- A.B. Shaw
- Robert Cloughen
- Fred Bellars
- J.J. Eller
- C.D. Trubenbach
- Joe Ruddy
- Platt Adams
- Paul Pilgrim
- Egon Erickson
- Harry Hillman
- Matthew McGrath
- Budd Goodwin
- Martin Sheridan
- F.C. Irons
- Ray Ewry
- Chas. Daniels
- Ed Cook
- Melvin Sheppard
- A.C. Gilbert