Obscure Card of the Month: Boss Pat Cases Baseball Card
This rare card is believed to be one of the first baseball trade card issues
Trade cards were essentially advertising cards for many businesses in the 19th century. These types of cards thrived in the 1880s with many being printed during that decade.
While many trade cards were printed and then used by many businesses, some companies had their own exclusive cards created. One of those was the Boss Pat Cases trade card set.
This large set features lithographic pictures of all sorts of subjects. While most were not sports related, several were. In addition to cards for boxing, cycling, and running (as well as a few others), a baseball card exists. The baseball card, predictably, is the most desirable one in the set.
The cards are slightly oversized (about 2 1/2″ x 4 1/4″) and include some sort of text tying the subject to the Boss Pat Cases products. For example, the baseball card includes the following poem:
“In base ball games we often find, the cover of the ball,
destroyed by the heavy battery of the players, one and all.
But here is a nine who use our case, when on the base ball field,
don’t fear that it will fall apart, for its covers never yield.
Boss Pat Cases were fine jewelry products and these cards were printed for particular distributors of their product. The baseball card shown here, for example, includes the printing for William Alexander, a jeweler in Toronto. Distributors, retailers, or repair shops for Boss Pat Cases products would add their own information in that area. Thus, the cards are found with a number of different businesses printed or stamped on them.
About that baseball card, though. It features a player wearing an old style uniform with a bib. Old baseball uniforms with bibs were popular in the 19th century.
So, what about the dating for this card? Well, that’s a little tricky. There are several series’ and they could have been printed at different times. One card mentions the 1878 Paris Exhibition and these cards are commonly always listed as 1878 issues. But I am not sure they were all necessarily issued at that time. There also doesn’t seem to be any consensus for the dating. I have seen them listed as 1878, 1880s, or even 1890s.
As far as value, prices for these are sort of all over the map. They generally start around $30-$40 for lower-grade ones, though asking prices can be much higher because of their rarity. They aren’t exactly what many collectors would consider scarce but they are somewhat rare.