In the Mail: March 2020 Edition

Here’s a look at some of my most recent pre-war pickups

Smoky Joe Wood T207 PSA

I didn’t get to an In the Mail segment last month so I’ve got some catching up to do. I bought about 200 cards or so in the past month so I’m obviously not going to cover everything. But here’s a look at some of the bigger and more unique finds.

One of the biggest scores of the past two months? Definitely this T207 card of Smoky Joe Wood.

I’d been stuck on needing four cards left to complete the T207 set for some time. But I made a lot of progress last year on it and finally picked up a new one in this Wood.

This is one of those cards I’d seen come up for sale at various times last year. But I wasn’t as close to completion at those times and, even more to the point, didn’t want to pay an astronomical fee for one.

I kept thinking one would surface for a more reasonable price but it never did. And even in straight auctions, low-grade cards have been, well, not cheap. So I finally bit the bullet and went out and bought one.

I did manage to get this one at a time when eBay was running a promotion so I was able to lessen the blow by getting some eBay Bucks out of it. Now, just the big three of Irving Lewis, Louis Lowdermilk, and Ward Miller remain.

Baby steps, although I’m determined to finish this sucker this year to complete my T205, T206, and T207 run.

Mike Mitchell SGC E90-1 American CaramelRight there with Smoky is a trio of E90-1 American Caramel cards.

This is another set I’m getting close on, though I’ve still got plenty of hurdles left. But a trio of Christy Mathewson, Frank Chance, and the rare Mike Mitchell card helped knock some of the tougher cards out.

Mitchell, shown here, is one of the rarities in the set and just a tough find. It’s low-grade which often means I’d break that sucker out of the graded slab. But since it’s one of the more expensive cards, it’ll stay right where it is.

Similarly, the SGC 1 Mathewson will remain right where he is. The SGC 1 Frank Chance card was broken out, though and stuffed into the binder pages with the other raw cards.

I’m now up to 102/120 on this incredible set and while I doubt it gets finished this year, would love to get close. There are technically 121 cards in the set counting the Dots Miller sunset variation, which is often not cited. But since I won’t be pursuing the high-dollar Joe Jackson rookie card anytime soon, I’ll be calling it a day at 120 cards.

1912 Gallaher Sports

I really made some good headway on a tough set I’d really been stuck on — the 1912 Gallaher Sports set. This set of 100 cards from the UK is definitely a bit hard to find. Last year, I’d purchased about half the set but had not made any progress since then. But recently, I found an auction for about three dozen of them and also found a seller on COMC with some singles. The result is that I’m now only about a dozen cards away from completing it.

This is a really great multi-sport set that includes all kinds of things. Some individual athletes are depicted and others are not. The set is headlined by ten cards of golf Hall of Famer James Braid and some key tennis and cricket figures. Also of note is a rookie card for tennis Hall of Famer Arthur Gore.

Helen Wills Moody GarbatySpeaking of international cards, I also had a nice score in finally getting my hands on a Helen Wills Moody card from the 1930s Garbaty Schonheitsgalerie set. This set mostly contains movie stars but, as I’ve written before, has several dozen athletes in it.

I’d been buying the athletes and, from what I can tell, Wills was the last one of those I needed. The tennis Hall of Famer is the biggest name in the athletes subset, though there are some other notable ones there, too.

Always great to close the door on a project when you can. I’d seen the Wills card for sale before, though it’s not overly common and asking prices for it were always a bit more than I wanted to pay.

These cards are certainly not done justice by this picture. The frame part is embossed and the gold foil really gives them a great look. And given that the artwork is fantastic, it’s just a great set to look at.

Pony Express CardsI don’t do much non-sports stuff but some cards that have recently caught my eye have been cards featuring the Pony Express.

The early mail service is just such a great story and some of the cards are extremely cool to look at. I recently had a large COMC order come in and scooped up all four of the different pre-war Pony Express cards that were found there.

The highlight of that group was a card I recently wrote about — the one found in the 19th century N85 Duke Postage Stamps set. Those cards included mail-related subjects and also had a real postage stamp affixed to them.

Like I said, I don’t do much non-sports stuff at all. But I’ve always loved the story of the Pony Express and will definitely be looking for additional pre-war issues I don’t have.

Finally, I’m always on the lookout for pre-war basketball stuff just because there isn’t much of it to go around once you get beyond the tons of postcards. Any early gum, candy, or tobacco cards get my attention.

Jacques Chocolate BasketballI recently discovered a pretty rare set from the 1930s – the 1933 Jacques Chocolate Les Sports Illustres (Illustrated Sports, duh) set.

These cards are super thin and were intended to be pasted into an album. The sports series is part of a massive overall set. Because of that, you might expect it to be small. But there are actually a total of 240 cards in just the sports series alone. There are a total of 24 cards for each of ten sports.

One of the sports included? You guessed it — basketball. I picked up two of the cards in the basketball sub (sub)set and this is another tough international set you don’t see too much of. eBay does have some singles usually but getting your hands on an entire 240-card set seems nearly impossible.

Finally, I’m always a sucker for UK sets when I can get my hands on them. The 1923 Sarony Tennis Strokes set, though, wasn’t one I’d been targeting.

1923 Sarony Tennis CardsThese cards were instructional in nature and featured a guy named J.C. Parke. Parke was an Irish tennis and rugby player and is the subject on the cards. The images were actually taken from a book of how to play tennis.

Sarony, the distributor, produced all kinds of sets, including a very cool issue in the 1923 Sarony Origin of Games set, which details the beginnings of various sports and games. That set, if you’re looking for more baseball in this post, has a great early depiction of rounders, which is the forerunner of baseball.

The cards are not as plentiful as the 1930s UK stuff you see and sets are usually in the $75-$100 range — more than I’d want to pay for something that’s little more than a novelty for me. But I found a lot of them in an auction and bit.

I had no intention on trying to collect the entire set as I got 16 of the cards and believed that, like many UK sets, there were 50 cards in it. However, once I discovered there were only 25, that’s now led me on a pursuit to get them all.

Oh, and my pickups also included this rare cricket trade card that I wrote about, which is actually part of a set that has baseball.

Lots of great finds since the new year has been underway and hoping that continues.

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