1922 E120 American Caramel Albums are a Blast to the Past

These albums to hold a popular caramel card set are somewhat rare — and more affordable than you probably think

greasy neale e120The E120 American Caramel cards from 1922 are among the most popular of all of the 1920s baseball cards. But while most pre-war collectors can tell you a little about these cards, many don’t realize that supplementary albums were created for them.

Simply put, the E120 cards create one of the most impressive pre-war sets of all time. At 240 cards, it’s a massive issue and one of the most comprehensive sets ever produced before World War II. The cards came at a time when there was a significant transition from the smaller types of cards that generally had been created before to a larger, more substantial type of card.

Two albums were created for these cards — one for the American League cards and one for the National League cards. The albums, like others of the time, were to give collectors a place to store their cards.

At the time, the cards were becoming more and more items that were truly collected as opposed to the really early cards, which were often discarded by tobacco users that received them as inserts. Caramel cards like this were heavily collected by children and, well, giving them an album like this helped create a bit of an incentive for them to buy more candy and try to collect the entire set.

Great idea, right? Kind of.

E120 American Caramel AlbumThe problem with these albums is that while they could preserve the front of the cards, they did not include pockets to slip a card into. Rather, collectors had to glue their cards directly onto the pages.

Back then, no one surely thought twice about it. The biggest concern, I suppose, was that by doing that, you were missing out on the team checklist, which appeared on the backs. But since the albums had places and names of all of the players, you didn’t need that, anyway. So glue away.

Today, of course, we know what that has done to the values. If removed from those pages with paper loss, that greatly diminishes the card’s worth. Today, many folks that stumble upon one of these albums with the cards inside choose to leave them undisturbed. And there’s a clear market for those. One shown here, for example, included a complete set of all 240 cards in both albums and was sold by REA for more than $7,100 back in 2014.

These albums are not common or terribly easy to find. Part of the reason for that is certainly the low-quality of them, meaning that most would have been discarded without much thought. They were created of only a black construction paper type of stock. While probably used heavily by children at the time, few have survived to the present day.

However, they are still seen in auctions and are around a bit more than you might expect. And interestingly enough, the prices for them are relatively low. Today, these usually are only in the $50-$100 range, assuming no cards are found in them. That’s a pretty low price given the rarity and the history behind them.

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