In the Mail: September 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.

As I’m sure it was for many of you, August was another busy month for me in terms of pickups. I’ve been really active in auctions lately and managing to buy more and more stuff. Here’s a few of the cards that showed up in my mailbox this month.

First, as you know, I typically reserve this space for more unique cards. But I’m actually going to start off with a T206. T206s are wildly common and I completed the 520-card set a while back. But I’ve really been looking to get into some more singles of Hall of Famers with unique backs.

This one went up for sale from a friend in a collector group and I thought it was a heck of a price for the condition and the back, which is a rarer Tolstoi ad. I’m also kind of a Zack Wheat fan and, as I wrote on Twitter recently, he’s the perfect case of just how hard it is to get 3,000 hits.

I don’t want to turn this into a historical baseball article but just how impressive is 3,000 hits? Wheat had just over 10,000 plate appearances, batted under .280 only one year of 19 seasons, was a career .317 hitter, and he didn’t even get to 2,900.

But this is not just a great Wheat card, it’s also considered a rookie issue. Just a really great addition.

Now, T206 cards are old but the next pickups are quite a bit older. Dating back to 1889, Duke’s N136 Honest Long Cut cards are basically oversized cards from their N88 Duke Terrors of America set.

While the N88 cards are somewhat rare, the N136 Honest Long Cut cards packaged with their Honest Long Cut chewing tobacco are much more difficult to find. And just like the baseball cards are the most desirable cards in the N88 set, they are the most desirable ones in the N136 cards.

I’d had some N136 cards but mostly as type cards and none of the more desirable baseball cards. But I recently bought a group of them with several of the baseball issues. Here are a couple.

The card on the left is a comical image of a boy getting hit in the face with a baseball — this is the shortstop card. The second card is the pitcher.

Sticking in that same era, but moving away from baseball, I’ve always had a bit of a dilemma with the 19th century champions sets. When I use that term, I’m talking specifically about the N28 and N29 Allen & Ginter sets, the N184 Kimball Champions set, and the N162 Goodwin Champions set. Those multi-sport sets each have 50 cards in them and while I’d made some good progress on Allen & Ginter (I’m about 2/3 of the way through the combined sets) and about 2/5 of the way through the Kimball set, I really had not chased many N162s.

Of the four sets they are generally the most expensive cards and I just hadn’t seen many of them available for the prices I wanted to pay. Part of that is because they are arguably the most popular of the four sets and collectors have really taken to buying them. The cards are vibrant and have the most unique look of the four sets. Because of that, I never really knew how much I would pursue them. But I got a bit of a break recently in buying several from a friend and finding a couple of other sellers with some at good prices.

The result? I picked up these 12 gems. Adding to the three I already had, that gives me 15 for the set and I’m now very clearly into collecting all four issues. I’ve now got about 100 of the total 200 cards in the four sets.

Game on.

Sticking in the 19th century, I added a couple of cards from pretty hard to find sets. Both from 1895, these sets were comical cards surrounding soccer/rugby and cycling. Called the Capstan Football Terms and Capstan Cycling Terms sets, the idea was to use actual terms from those sports and then combine them with humorous images.

I picked up a couple of these cards last month, one from each of these UK sets. One card from the football set is termed Half Back and features the backside of a player. Another card titled full back shows a man with an even larger backside.

The cycling card is called, “A Puncture,” clearly to reflect a puncture in a bicycle tire. The card, however, depicts a warrior in the background throwing a spear at the cyclist.

Measuring 1 7/16″ x 2 1/4″, these are some pretty small cards. And given that the font on the front is already small, you can see what I mean when I say that cards have been designed better. But these unique cards are some really nice pickups and, well, look at that incredible back advertisement that is found on both of them.

Speaking of international cards, one of my favorite pickups this month was actually a card I already had. This card depicts an umpire being chased by angry fans and comes to us from the 1927 Ogden ABC of Sports set. Essentially, each letter of the alphabet is represented by a sports subject and the letter U is for Umpire.

I had one of these cards already but had a chance to get this one in immaculate condition. I don’t do much with graded cards but this one is definitely going to be sent in not only because of the nice grade it should receive but also because it’s just a fantastic image that will look great in a slab.

Another international tobacco card is this one from the 1928 Ogden’s Marvels of Motion set.

This is not only a new card for me but it’s one I’ve tried to find for some while. This set really takes a look at physics and laws of motion and is primarily a non-sports set. But it includes a handful of sports cards — none more desirable than the first card in the set, which depicts the sport of boxing.

Neither of the fighters shown are named but that’s not all that important. What is demonstrated here is the title of the card — Action and Reaction are Equal and Opposite. The back of the card breaks down the physics of two fighters hitting against each other’s gloves and then a fighter hitting his glove against a stationary wall. This is from a relatively tough set to find and the card is in good condition and may also be off to the grader.

The lone non-sports card I’m featuring here is from yet another international set — the 1908 Wills Flag Girls set, though I’ve also seen it go by other names, too.

This set depicts women representing different countries with flags. It should be noted that they are not necessarily shown with the official flag of their country. This card, for example, is the card for the United States of America. I’ve really been going crazy picking up a lot of pre-war non-sports cards that depict America and this was the latest one.

While it’s just a cool card in general, the thing that I love about it is the drastic miscut. The same cards were clearly printed next to each other on a sheet as part of the girl’s flag is cut off on the right side and the flag from the card that would have been to the left of this one on the sheet is showing, meaning that card was subsequently miscut, too.

I’ve seen several cards from this set and parts of the flags are often miscut. However, few are miscut this badly and it’s just a pretty cool anomaly.

A very nice non-sports find that also fits in with the United States portion of my collection.

Finally, another card with an interesting result from the print shop that I picked up was a T218 Champions card of boxer Knock Out Brown.

These two cards look mostly alike. The card on the right is one that resides in my T218 set and the card on the left is the card I just picked up this month.

But if you look closely, the card on the left is clearly light on yellow ink. Brown’s blonde hair is lighter, his skin tone is more pale, and, most noticeably, perhaps, the sidewalk behind him is gray instead of the beige tone it is on the card on the right.

Equally as interesting is that the card measures significantly wider than the regular T218 card. You can see that as the card has both thicker borders on both the left and right side than the card on the right, which is an untrimmed specimen. Calling the card on the left a complete scrap is probably not entirely accurate as it does have factory cut edges. But it certainly measures larger than other T218 cards by a significantly margin and the lack of yellow ink makes it stand out quite easily.

I frankly can’t get enough stuff like this and, of course, it would be great if it was even weirder. But it was a pretty nice buy that I got this month.

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