Key Sports in the 1893 Arbuckle Sports and Pastimes Set

The 1893 Arbuckle Sports and Pastimes set is a really underrated trade card set from the late 19th century. Classified as K4 in the American Card Catalog, this unique set featured, you guessed it, sports and pastimes from around the world.

Like other similar sets that were created in later tobacco sets, many of the topics pictured are less sports and more activities or games. But there are a few great sports featured in this set and I wanted to try to spotlight some of the more important ones. It’s a set I started working on this year and it’s just a great issue with colorful, detailed pictures, and is full of interesting facts.


Without a doubt, the most important card in the set is the one featuring baseball. It’s not only important because it includes baseball, but also because it is also the card for America.

The card also features some other pastimes from the United States, including early cycling, photography, fishing, and even the circus. But it’s baseball that is the focal point of the card and the reason it carries the most weight in the set.

And as Arbuckles is a domestic company, it’s no surprise that this card is numbered as the first one in the set.


Another popular card in the set is the card for Scotland.

This card features golf as it originated in that country. Described on the back as ‘trying with the aid of specially constructed clubs to strike certain balls into holes,’ it provides a basic look at the sport tat originated in the 15th century.

Sort of lost in the mix are a few other cool sports, which are also pictured. Many collectors do not know that the famous Olympic sport of curling also originated in that country, as did the shot put.

The shot put was actually called ‘putting the shot’ at the time and, of course, no Scottish card would be complete without mentioning bagpipes and the country’s love for that musical instrument.


Ireland is also another card that is pursued by collectors. That’s because the sport of boxing is depicted on that one.

Unlike the cards for America and Scotland, this card really features only the one sport on the front.

Boxing is actually the least of things mentioned on this card even though it is the reason it is popular. And while it indicates that the Irish were ‘famous boxers,’ unfortunately none were specifically named.


France is yet another desirable card in the series and that’s because this card depicts tennis.

Also on the French card is billiards and fencing.

Interestingly enough, there are actually two French cards. A second depicts Medieval France. While interesting, that card doesn’t really feature any sports on the front. As a result, it’s not nearly as desirable to collectors as this one is.


The card for England follows the United States card in the set at No. 2. This is another key one as it pictures a cricketer.

While cricket is understandably not as popular here in America, it is a key card in the set due to its international popularity. The cricket player is a batsman and the card also depicts rowing and hunting on the front.

This card could have been even more popular with a depiction of soccer. While it (football) is mentioned on the back, for some reason, it was decided to leave an image off of the front for it.

Missing Sports

While the set covers quite a bit, a few notable sports are not featured, which are head scratchers, to some degree.

The biggest one, to me, is soccer. While soccer was not a big sport here, it was quite large internationally. As I mentioned in the Cricket card, it was discussed on the back. But not seeing it depicted on the front of any cards was odd. The same could be said for the other ‘football.’ I’m talking about rugby, which was popular internationally, too.

Wrestling’s another popular sport that could have been pictured. Yet another glaring omission? Ice hockey. There is a card for Canada, where the game originated. But surprisingly, hockey is not pictured on the front, even though it had been around for about 20 years at the time, and longer if you consider earlier forms of the game. That the sport was invented there and is not only not pictured, but not even mentioned on the back in lieu of things such as snowshoeing, is just frankly, odd.

Major American sports, football and basketball, also were not mentioned. But that makes sense since those sports (especially basketball, which was only just invented two years earlier) were both relatively new.

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