Obscure Card of the Month: Walter Johnson W516-2-2 Scrap

A recent pickup was one of my favorites of the entire year

So, I buy a lot of crap. Baseball card addicts tend to do that. But, in addition to my sets, I’m really intrigued by adding some unique singles along the way. I don’t really overdo it in that regard (my larger problem is collecting too many sets) but when I find some different stuff, I’ll pursue it.

Walter Johnson W516-2-2 Strip Scrap

Recently, I stumbled across a really odd item. The card is a 1920-21 W516-2-2 strip card of Walter Johnson and while there’s nothing really obscure about W516 strip cards, this particular one is definitely a bit off the wall.

This card is different because it has a major color shift, which you can see by the shadowy-like appearance of Wajo’s shape. Either the red and yellow colors on it are shifted far to the right or the black is shifted to the left. And on top of that, it clearly did not receive a full yellow color pass at the printer as the yellow should be more pronounced on the field and is barely visible on mine.

When I saw it, I had to have it. If it was a common player, I would have pursued it but to a much lesser degree. The fact that it features one of the greatest pitchers of all time made it a must have if I could get it at a decent price. I had reservations about my ability to do that because oddball stuff like this can be unpredictable and sell for ridiculous amounts. Fortunately, this was a strip card and not a tobacco one, which would certainly have sold for more.

Given that this kind of shifting would have applied to the entire strip of cards, my hunch is this was never distributed. Quality control in the pre-war days was not necessarily great (that’s particularly true of W516 cards, by the way, which often have slight shifts and registration issues). But this is excessive even by those standards. That, combined with the mostly missing yellow, makes it hard to believe this is not a scrap that was not issued.

Unissued scraps, as I wrote here, can be hard to define. That’s especially true when it comes to strip cards, which are hand cuts and generally lower quality cards, anyway. This, to me, though, has the makings of a scrap.

It’s a really unique card that I was glad to add to my collection.

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