Obscure Card of the Month: T100 Honest Silhouettes Football Card

This early American football tobacco card is rarely offered

The T100 Honest Silhouettes set is one of those that few collectors could tell you about. Some may have heard of the alleged Roger Bresnahan card that I’ve discussed here before but hardly any, I imagine, could tell you much about the rest of the set.

That isn’t too surprising. It’s mostly a non-sports set and while there are some sports subjects in it, none are named. Even an exact date is not known, though, it’s believed to have been issued around 1910. It is at least an American tobacco release and not one of the endless UK issues that get lost in the shuffle. But it’s still a set that hardly anyone pays much attention to, aside from maybe the baseball card on occasion.

But the set has some very cool other cards in it and one of those is a card depicting early American football.

The front of the card features an unidentified player holding a ball. Now, the ball by today’s standards looks rather large. In fact, it looks closer to a rugby ball. But the size of the American football in its early days was indeed larger. And because this is a domestic card set, this card is classified as an American football issue and not a rugby one.

Shown here is my example, creases and all. It’s a card I looked for for some time and they do not come up for sale very often.

In looking at the card, those unfamiliar with the set might be inclined to think this card features an African American but that is unlikely. The cards are ‘silhouette’ figures and all of the skin complexions are intentionally dark to match the background. All of the cards in the set have this silhouetted look with no print on the front and white borders.

Backs did not identify the subjects, either. Thus, the few checklisting efforts for this set that exist are usually some sort of vague description of the picture on the front.

Instead of identifying the picture on the front, backs, as shown here, offer a generic advertisement for Honest tobacco and merely states that the complete set consists of 50 cards. The Honest name for the tobacco even is explained a bit as the ad states that the tobacco is not the largest package that can be bought for a nickel but was the best. A name for the set is not even provided, though today, we typically refer to this as the Honest Silhouettes set. It was classified by Jefferson Burdick as T100 in his American Card Catalog.

The cards, as I alluded to a bit, are quite rare. A single copy of the football card was graded among PSA, SGC, and Beckett. SGC graded it and it was a 5.5. I actually saw this card on eBay for sale and it sold for a little over $100. Yeah, I should have bid higher — tell me about it. Prices for any of the sports cards from the set can be all over the map just because they’re practically impossible to find but can go under the radar, too. But this card, like the baseball one, is just incredibly cool.

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