Four A.W.H. Caramels Cards are not Like the Others
2/3 of the A.W.H. Caramels cards feature poses found in the T206 set — but four of the players weren’t in that release causing for a bit of … improvisation
The A.W.H. Caramels set is not one many collectors are familiar with. Listed as E222 in the American Card Catalog, this released featured only players on Virginia State League minor league teams.
Even collectors that have heard of the set generally know little about it. The most distinguishing characteristic, aside from the multi-colored tint variations, is probably that many of the images of players will look familiar to pre-war collectors. That is because eight of the 12 cards in the set used artwork that was found in the far more common T206 release.
Shown here, for example, are cards of Shag Shaughnessy. As I wrote here, Shaughnessy’s card is the most popular Southern League card in the T206 set. The more colorful card, of course, is that one. Next to it is a single-tint card from the E222 A.W.H. Caramels set.
This was a common practice, of course. Card artwork was frequently shared in other sets and it made for a much more economical solution in creating a brand new release.
But while eight of the 12 cards simply used the artwork provided in T206, A.W.H. didn’t have that luxury for the other four players.
See, those players, including Jim Ison, Paul Sieber, Arthur Smith, and Guy Titman were not included in T206. Thus, A.W.H. was forced to come up with a solution to get them featured.
The four players all had something in common in that they had played with Richmond in 1909. As a post in this thread details, that solution came in using the heads from a team photograph.
Now, that sort of fixed the problem. The headshots of the players gave A.W.H. a picture of the player but other cards in the set included a player’s shoulders and at least part of his chest. So, to get around that, A.W.H. had that part of a player drawn onto his card.
And yes, that was mostly as bad as it sounds.
Here, for example, is the card of Smith. Now, you might notice that Smith’s card states he plays for Lynchburg and I said all four of the players were in Richmond. But Smith was with Richmond in the beginning of 1909 and then finished the season with Lynchburg.
As you can see here, we’ve got the normal looking headshot of Smith before the card sort of takes a turn for the worse with drawn shoulders, a Lynchburg logo, and those horrifying buttons.
Now, truth be told, many cards used lithographs of paintings/artwork that were depictions of players and not real images. But the drawn on portions of the jerseys in the A.W.H. set leave a lot to be desired.
So, this was obviously a bad idea. And frankly, I’m sort of surprised A.W.H. went in this direction when a few other options existed. Here are some other things A.W.H. could have tried instead.
A Smaller Set
Perhaps the easiest option would have simply been to include fewer cards.
Now, taking an already small set and making it even smaller might not be ideal. But the reality is that 12 cards is already a small set and I’m not sure that doing an eight-card set would have really been that much worse.
Plus, there are plenty of smaller sets out there. A.W.H. certainly would not have been alone in having a set comprised of having fewer than 12 cards.
But let’s say they were intent on a set of 12. There still had to be better options.
Additional T206 Guys
The one that came to mind for me was to see if other players on these teams were also found in the T206 where artwork would have been handy. And there were at least two such players in Charlie Seitz and Al Orth.
Seitz played for the Norfolk Tars in 1909, as did teammate Bill Otey, who was in the A.W.H. set. Seitz didn’t only play for the team — according to Baseball Reference, the 126 games he played were actually tied for the most of any player on the team. His .326 batting average was also by far and away the best on the club — no one else managed to hit even .290.
Similarly, Al Orth, was another T206 guy that could have been used. He played for Lynchburg in 1909 and would have been another fit. Orth, in fact, would have been a home run. He had a 15-year career in the majors with a short minor league stint at the end of his career. Including a player like him would have given the set a much-needed boost in terms of star power.
So, why weren’t these guys in the set? Beats me. Some players did not want to appear on cards where certain products, like tobacco, were being promoted, but this was a candy card set. There could have been contractual issues with being able to use their likenesses. But the fact is that these were players that had artwork ready to go and could have been used in lieu of one of the players that were not found in T206.
A Varied Look
Another option would have simply been to mix and match the styles of images found in the set.
For example, the E99 Bishop set did precisely this in 1910. Some of the cards featured players with upper bodies. Others, however, had players with only a floating head. Here are examples of two cards in that set.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that the floating head cards look, well, a bit odd. That is made worse, even, because others in the set show players with an upper body. Still, this was done in other sets and was an option that may have made sense here.
I’m not convinced that A.W.H.’s decision to have the rest of the players’ bodies drawn on was the worst thing in the world. And, of course, this happened elsewhere with the 1938 Goudey cards with caricature bodies of players possibly being the closest example. But the cards do stand out and not necessarily for good reasons.