In the Mail: August 2020
In the Mail is a regular feature on the site — generally bi-monthly. Here, I’ll take a look at a handful of my most recent pickups. I won’t be showing everything here, obviously, and the focus is really on showing some of the more unique stuff. I will on occasion show more common cards (i.e. T206, etc.) but really want to focus on some of the more unique or obscure cards that collectors are not as familiar with.
Man, time flies, huh?
I just realized I didn’t post an In the Mail segment last month. That may have been my faulty memory or it may have been the fact that I don’t think I bought all that much the month before that. Whatever the reason, though, I did want to highlight some pickups from the past two months.
One of those, you heard of already — this 1880 non-sports trade card from Currier and Ives. As I wrote about recently, this is a card depicting Uncle Sam as a soldier and, well, I’m rather smitten by it. It’s one of my favorite non-sports cards in my collection.
It’s a great looking image for one thing and, for another, it is also from the first ‘set’ of cards that were really cataloged by Jefferson Burdick in the American Card Catalog, as I detailed in this article. As you probably know, I have not historically been much of a non-sports collector. But I will admit to really taking a leap in that direction this year as I’ve really gotten more into it with numerous pickups.
Staying in the non-sports world, I added some actress cards from a large series put out by Sweet Caporal in the 19th century.
These cards from the late 1800s are often forgotten about these days. Part of that, of course, is because they’re non-sports card. But the other part is because they feature actresses that people today simply haven’t heard of. There weren’t movies in the way we watch them today so it’s even difficult finding footage of them doing any acting.
But I’d always wanted a few of these cards, even if I had no idea who the women featured on them were. I was also drawn to them because, like many of the tobacco sets that came after them, these cards can be found with several different backs. I intentionally picked three with three different backs to show them variances here. Others likely exist, I’m sure.
Alright, moving on to baseball before I bore you all to death, my favorite pickup in the last couple months may be this one — an autographed Paddy Livingston T206 card.
Livingston was one of the last living players from the T206 set and he is believed to have had these reproductions of his T206 card made that he would sign and mail to autograph seekers. You don’t see a ton of them out there but they do pop up for sale from time to time.
I was fortunate enough to buy this one and I wrote an article about it afterwards.
I’d love to have an authentic T206 card from the time period that was autographed — and they certainly exist. But they fetch more than $1,000 and with so many authenticity concerns, well, it’s not a wildly attractive option to me.
On top of that, I’m really not much of an autograph guy. If I were, I’d be ready and willing to spend good money on some but it’s just not my style.
Sticking with baseball, I also had the chance to add to a set I’m working on and also pick up sort of a freak card.
Here’s a 1923 W515 strip card of Charles Hollocher.
I don’t think this one’s missing color or anything. But it does have a pretty cool color shift with the yellow ink pushed too far to the left.
The result is you can see the yellow ink clearly out side of the picture to the left and then, on the right side, the yellow doesn’t start until it’s inside of the border of the image.
This card also has the text at the top for the “Little Wonder Picture Series” title. Those cards aren’t exactly rare (as opposed to the cards without them) but it adds a bit of ‘special’ to this card that’s already quite cool.
And just as importantly, it fills a hole in the W515 strip card set that I’m working on. Hollocher pushed me a bit closer to the midway point with 28 of 60 cards in that set.
So let’s stick with sports but move away from baseball a bit.
How about a little ice yachting?
Well, truthfully, I would not typically be pursuing a card with that type of subject. But I made the exception here.
This is a 1914 Lambert & Butler card depicting the wonderful sport of ice yachting. It’s from a 25-card set and I bought a set a while back. The hockey card in it is really the key card but all of the cards are somewhat rare. At least, you don’t see them nearly as much as most 1920s and 1930s international tobacco cards.
But I purchased a set a while ago and, curiously, it was missing this one card. The seller didn’t know where it was but I opted to keep the cards, anyway, figuring I’d be able to easily find it. Well, that was wrong. Turns out, it took me quite a while to track one down. I was glad to finally put that set to bed.
Some more cards for a set I’m working with also arrived from the UK. These are 1922 Anstie Racing Colors cards, depicting jockeys/noblemen.
Now, this was not a set I would typically pursue. I do have a bunch of horse racing and jockey cards but building sets of them isn’t really my thing.
However, I had the chance to pick up a bunch of these recently at a good price and with only 25 cards in this particular set, figured I’d just build it. If you follow the Twitter account, you might recall when I bought my first 13 of these. And the cards are just too gorgeous not to pursue.
I picked up these five from a seller in the UK and that got me up to 18 of the 25 cards for the set. The others are out there and now it’s just a matter of finding them at the right price. I love building sets like these but they almost have to be side projects with little importance on them.
One more very cool minor sports pickup was this collection of T221 Pan Handle Scrap Tobacco cards featuring champion women swimmers.
You might recall I wrote about this set recently (as well as the accompanying T230 set that featured athletes in Olympic sports). That was driven my purchase of these cards.
I’d always wanted a few of these, though, I’ve got no aspirations of building the set. There are 100 cards in the set total and they are just not all that common. Finding a complete set of these cards does happen on occasion but it’s just incredibly rare.
I picked up some of these cards and the group included three cards of Annette Kellermann. I won’t go too deep into her career but she was a championship swimmer that also became a popular actress. Her cards in the set are undoubtedly the most desirable ones — with the exception, I suppose of the high number series cards which are more difficult to find than the low number cards.
And one of the reasons I love this hobby is the generosity of many of the people in it. The same seller I bought these cards from also had one of the T230 athlete cards of a track and field star. I thought about bidding on it but declined. But when I got the package in the mail, he added that card in since it didn’t sell. Just an abundantly cool gesture.
One of the more notable additions this month was this 1928 W513 strip card of Richard Byrd.
Byrd was a famous aviator and while the baseball players are more sought after in the set, the lesser known figures, such as the aviators, are usually more difficult finds.
That isn’t because they were shortprinted or anything. It’s just that they aren’t bought and sold with the same regularity because there’s generally less demand for them. Fewer people are looking to buy them so, well, few folks are out there trying to sell them.
I’d been looking for a Byrd W513 for over a year and jumped at the chance to buy this PSA 6. The card is one of the higher graded Byrd W513 cards that is out there.
The case got cracked during delivery and I wrote about the ordeal here. But cracked case or not, I was very glad to get this difficult card out of the way. The Byrd pickup completes my W513 set and leaves only Babe Ruth for the entire W512 and W513 combined release.
And finally, sticking with the W512/W513 theme, there was this most recent pickup of a Jackie Coogan W512 strip card.
Coogan was a child actor from the 1920s and he is found in this set. This card came from a collector friend who pointed out to me that his card can be found both with a card number and without it in the set. This one here is the card without the card number.
Just a neat find and one that was free — always love those.