Could Gold be Struck at a Recent Flea Market Stop?

Was it possible to find a hidden gem in an unexpected trip to the flea market?

Last year, I mentioned heading to a flea market and unexpectedly finding a series of instructional wrestling newsletters offered by the legendary Farmer Burns.

That find wasn’t enough for me to retire on. But as I found out once I got home and took a closer look, a $3 buy turned into one that was worth somewhere around $100. That made an already fun day even a little more enjoyable.

I typically hit up a large, local flea market several times a year but this year haven’t had time to get out much. But with my wife in search of mums, this Sunday I had a good chance to kill two birds with one stone and made an impromptu trip on the way home from church.

I didn’t see any dealers offering pre-war tobacco/candy cards but did stumble across a dealer that had a box full of pre-war and vintage postcards. This gentleman had a couple of boxes with roughly a total of about 1,000 cards. I’ve been down this road with postcard boxes before and these typically include newer post-war vintage cards in them. I often will pass these up but since I spotted a bunch of earlier ones, I figured I’d take a look. Plus, I had time to kill, anyway. His asking price was a buck a pop.

So what did I find?

Soapine Sailor Trade Card

Western and Southern Life Insurance Company Trade CardFirst up were actually a few trade cards. One was one that I recently wrote an article about. It mentioned a total of five million of them being produced and I knew I wanted to write an article about that so I bought that one. Others, included these two other 1800s trade cards.

Neither were sports cards but had ties to other trade cards I sort of collect. The first one was for the Western and Southern Life Insurance Company. That company printed all kinds of trade cards, including these sports cards, which are probably their most popular ones. They also produced these admittedly tougher baseball cards.

The second one is a Soapine trade card. Soapine was a somewhat popular product that was basically a household soap item used for cleaning and laundry. They’ve got a ton of trade cards and their most popular sports cards are probably these. I liked the picture on this one and for a buck, basically figured, why not?

Next were some postcards, which is what the boxes were mostly comprised of.

National Art Company - The Skating Girl PostcardI’m not a huge postcard guy but will buy sports ones when I see them at good prices. To me, they are among the better bargains of pre-war cards that can be had.

Unfortunately, no baseball, football, or other major sports here. This was the closest I came to finding a sports card all day. But it was a somewhat notable pickup for me.

This is part of a set issued by the National Art Company. It features mostly non-sports subjects. In particular, these show pictures of women and call them different types of ‘girls.’

A very similar National Art Company set (or perhaps even the same one) was created that includes a card called, ‘The Hockey Girl.’ That card is fairly popular and generally sells for around $20. However, that postcard was designed by Archie Gunn (who did a lot of imagery for postcards) and this one was done by a different artist named J. De Yonce. I am not sure if both are part of the same set but they have the same type of layout with a title and card number. I was not aware of any other sports cards in the set and, while this is barely a sports card, still one I would add to the checklist if I found it to be part of the same issue as the ‘Hockey Girl’ card.

Regardless, I wanted to buy this card and see what I could find about it or the set.

Two Men PostcardI picked up a couple other odds and ends but nothing too significant. This card shown here to the right may have been the most intriguing of the bunch.

It features two men dressed in suits, obviously. But unfortunately, no other markings or identification really exists.

Postcards like this were relatively common. These could be two important people or two entirely random, everyday folks. But the gentleman pictured on the left looked somewhat familiar and, for a buck, I figured I’d take it home and investigate a little. But since he’s a dead ringer for Guy Williams, a long lost Cartwright from Bonanza, I think that’s where I’m making the connection.

All told, nothing here is going to make me rich, unfortunately. But I still got to spend a good half hour on a reasonably nice day thumbing through hundreds of really old cards. That, if nothing else, made for a fun time.

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