In the Mail: New Years Edition
This month’s card finds included Ty Cobb, a few sets, and, as usual, some pretty rare discoveries
My last ‘In the Mail’ segment was around Thanksgiving. I initially thought about trying to do these about once a month but thought it could turn into more than that. Yeah, not likely. But I will try to get to this at least once a month and hopefully review some cards you’ve not seen or heard of before.
I’ve picked up quite a few cards since the last one and, as I said in that article, these won’t be a highlight of everything I’ve gotten. Rather, I’m going to take some of the key cards or, in some cases, the ones that are really different, and try to spotlight those a little bit.
In terms of key cards, there was none bigger in this past month’s mail than this E90-1 American Caramel card of Ty Cobb. There are rarer cards in the set than Cobb but his card is one of the most valuable and certainly one of the more important cards in the set.
I really wanted to hit on this card not because of its importance, necessarily. And not even because it gets me closer to completing the set (I’m now at 99 of the 121 cards in it). But I really wanted to give REA some kudos here.
I rarely bid on auction items from the larger traditional auction houses but threw my hat in the ring for this Cobb in REA’s latest auction. I didn’t get a check out to them until several days after the auction and the card still came shortly after I sent it out.
You hear all kinds of horror stories about auction houses waiting forever for checks to clear, about taking a long time to deliver items, and charging excessive shipping/handling amounts. My shipping for this card was a very reasonable $10 (especially given its value) and it came to be lightning quick. Excellent way to do business.
One of the more interesting cards I got recently was this Reward of Merit baseball card.
Reward of Merit cards typically date to the 1700s and were continued all the way up into the 1900s. I recently wrote an article on this unique card type. When up for auction by an auction house, these baseball ones typically fetch around $150. I got this one that went undetected on eBay for a fraction of that amount.
This card is quite rare and the only baseball Reward of Merit card I know of that predates the 1880s. Really cool find and an exceptional card that you don’t see too often. I’ve only seen a handful myself.
And what most collectors don’t know is that these are actually listed in the American Card Catalog as Y-Cards.
Moving on, I typically enjoy building sets. But what I’d really like to do is buy more that were complete or close to it.
With American tobacco or candy cards, that’s typically not possible. But some European sets can be approached that way. Recently, I added a near-complete set of 1901 Wills Sports of All Nations set.
I’ve seen these sets before but they’ve typically sold for more than I wanted to pay. Many multi-sport sets from the UK can be bought rather inexpensively. But this one is a bit more and typically sells for around $200-$300.
In this case, I found an auction ending and won a near-set for significantly less. The set was missing only six cards, five of which I’ve since picked up from COMC. The only card I’m missing for it now is the tennis card.
Speaking of tobacco cards, one card I’ve been after for a little while is a rare boxing issue from the Allen & Ginter Dudes set.
This set, classified as N31, features men of all sorts and types. Most of the cards are not sports related but a few are, including a boxer and a tennis player. Neither card is particularly easy to find and the set in general is fairly tough.
But in browsing David Levin’s site a little while ago, I was pleasantly surprised to find the boxing card and at a fair price. I quickly bought it and was thrilled when it arrived a short time after.
To the general aesthetics of these cards, like many 19th century issues, they are a bit thicker than the early 20th century tobacco cards that are more widely collected. Similar to Allen & Ginter’s popular N28 and N29 Champions series cards, these are printed on very sturdy cardstock.
And the pictures, like those found on many Allen & Ginter releases, are stunning.
Another single I recently picked up was a set I only recently learned about — the N100 Duke Bicycle and Trick Riders set.
I’ve been slowly getting more into cycling cards lately. It’s not a primary point of focus but ever since I bought some as part of my quest to work on the Ogden’s Tabs General Interest set, I’ve been looking more at them. And once I saw these cards, I was hooked and knew I had to get at least one.
In all, there are 25 in the entire set. That is a pretty small number and typically, I’d be inclined to try to work on it. But the cards are also rare and not all that cheap for cycling cards. And shelling out $500 or so for a small set of cycling cards isn’t, well, probably in my best interests.
Still, these cards present incredibly well and I jumped at the chance to buy one on COMC. The feature female cyclists, generally performing daring stunts.
Adding to the allure of the cards is that they are slightly oversized, measuring about 2 1/2″ wide by 4 1/8″ tall. And the backs, if you haven’t noticed, are gorgeous.
Among sets I am working on, however, is a run of 1939-1941 Play Ball sets.
Despite not placing a huge emphasis on them, I’ve made some progress. I’m missing only Joe DiMaggio for the 1941 set and am 3/4 of the way through the 1939 set. 1940 is the one I’ve really not placed much emphasis on and, by the start of December, had only gotten about 25% of the way through it.
But then a collector friend offered a group of 60 of them all at once and about 40 were cards I needed.
The cards were all trimmed but that was of little consequence to me since it’s a set I really don’t care that much about. Plus, I figure I’ll upgrade many of these at some point since low-grade Play Ball commons really aren’t that expensive. That vaulted me up to about 40% completion on these.
So, non-sports cards are something I’ve gotten a little more into. Now, my interest for these is still pretty small. But I have taken to finding some rarer cards depicting America and Americans in some worldwide sets where different countries are featured.
I recently found a couple of those on COMC. One is this card on the left featuring a woman in a Statue of Liberty pose from the 1904 Cope’s Flags, Arms, and Types of All Nations set. One really interesting thing about the card is that you might notice the subtitle at the bottom — the United States of North America as opposed to simply, the United States of America.
Another card I found on COMC that fits this mold is the card to the right. This one is from a set cataloged as N388 – Admiral National Types Sailor Girls. This particular card also features an American in a multi-national set. This card, like the other one, is fairly rare.
Like I said, the non-sports stuff is not really for me. But some cards like this are ones I could see myself continuing to acquire down the road.
Finally, one more interesting set pursuit popped up for me and, again, it was by way of COMC.
I’d heard of the N91 Duke Yacht Colors of the World set. These featured actual women and famous yachting clubs on the front. The club’s name was present along with their apparent flag.
While sports cards to a degree, these are not cards I would typically be too interested in. There are 50 of them in the set and with cards often in the $8-$10 range in lower grade condition, that’s just not a real affordable issue for yachting cards.
However, COMC had a slew of them mostly for $3-$4 and at that price, I was all in. In all, I found a total of 18 in that range and, well, I’ve now got almost 40% of the set.
I’d love to complete this one and, with some time, expect I will. But I won’t be in a hurry to shell out that aforementioned $8-$10 per card so this one may take a while.