In the Mail: December 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.

Lots of nice pickups this month and what I’m probably most proud of is making progress on sets I’m working on.

The biggest jumps were seen in the 1909-11 E90-1 American Caramel set. I’ve been working on this set of 121 cards for, I don’t know, two years now?

I’ve been asked about this set quite a bit over the years and it’s a bear. I break it down as follows. There are probably about 50 cards that are all pretty easy to find, another 40 that are tougher, and then about another 30 that are, to varying degrees, very tough. I’ve made some good progress on it this year, but still not quite as much as I’d like.

There aren’t expected to be many complete sets out there. How few are there? The popular pre-war message board Net54 has a forum tracking collector progress on the set. As of now, there’s one collector showing a complete set and I’m not even sure that hasn’t been broken up by now.

I’m now up to 108 of the 121 cards and have picked up four recently. Two were cards of Hall of Famers Ed Walsh and Willie Keeler. One was a shortprinted card of Patsy Dougherty. And the final one, shown here, is the famous ‘corrected’ card of Hall of Famer Fred Clarke. I wrote about this card recently and it’s basically a correction of his more plentiful error cards that declared he played for Philadelphia instead of Pittsburgh.

I’m essentially down to the really tough ones now and any progress at this point will be significant. I do want to finish it, though, since I’ve come so far.

I’ve also managed to foolishly start some news sets, though, am off to a good start on both.

One of those is the W519/W521 strip card set. These are technically two different sets but they include the same fighters and layouts. The only difference is that one set has pictures are are the reverse of the other. If a boxer faces to the left on his W519 card, his W521 card will show him facing to the right.

These cards are not collected all that much and distinguishing whether a card is a W519 card or a W521 card is not something 99% of collectors could do. My goal is simply to collect one of each fighter and there are a total of 20 in the set.

I purchased a group of these recently and now have 12 of the 20 cards.

The other one that was an unexpected chase is the 1923 W515 boxing strip card set.

You might be familiar with the W515 baseball cards. In all, there are 60 of those and it’s one of the more common baseball strip issues. The boxing cards are less collected and have only ten in the set.

Some collectors think this is one large multi-sport set including both baseball players and boxers. But that isn’t the case since the boxing card are numbered 1-10, just like the first ten baseball card are. I purchased a group of these and have nine of the ten in the set, missing only Hall of Famer Georges Carpentier.

I am technically working on several dozen sets and really don’t need to add to that list. But when you can buy nine of the ten cards in a set all at once, well, I’m not turning that down.

Of course, last month wasn’t only about sets. The fact is I got some really interesting singles, too.

The most interesting might be this rare 1930s ink blotter of Hall of Famer Frankie Frisch.

Ink blotters, if you’re unaware, were basically cards that were often kept on desks. They were often printed with a softer type of back and were used to wipe excess ink off of. Frisch appears on at least two ink blotters for tires — this one was for Goodrich. The cards included a general message from Frisch touting the virtues of the Goodrich Silverstown tires and then the bottom had a space where a specific dealership or shop could add their contact information.

These blotters are quite rare. I’ve seen only two to date and, while there are certainly more than that, this is just one of those cards you hardly ever come into contact with.

I’ve been collecting ink blotters for a while but most include pictures of generic subjects. Finding one with a real player, let alone a Hall of Famer, made this a really nice buy.

Another single that I was glad to add this month is actually a blanket/felt. This is Chick Gandil’s ‘card’ from the 1914 B18 Blankets set.

These sets included felts that were packaged with tobacco products. They are roughly 5 1/4″ in size on all four sides and it’s a great set to pick off big name players at lower prices. Ty Cobb’s felt, for example, can be bought for under $500 — that’s basically unheard of these days for Cobb tobacco cards that were issued during his playing days.

I’m always a sucker for stuff featuring the eight banned members of the 1919 Chicago Black Sox team. So when I saw this Gandil, I knew I had to have it.

Gandil’s stuff, like the stuff of those other seven players, is getting quite costly these days.

Speaking of Cobb, I added a nice one to my growing Cobb collection, too.

Cobb, like most of the other stars of the era, was included in the 1913 National Game and 1913 Barker Game sets. Those two sets were basically mirror images of each other using the same layout and pictures.

But Cobb has a second card besides his base card in the set — one depicting the Hall of Famer sliding.

Cobb is not named on that card but it does picture him, and is bought and sold as a Cobb card. It’s one that you could find in great condition under $100 in the past. But like anything else, it’s risen in value and finding it under $100 these days in even bad shape is tough.

Part of that is because Cobb prices have just been insane and part of it is because it’s not a really common card. Card in these sets are not nearly as plentiful as many tobacco cards from the same time period.

Baseball, obviously, is my focus. But I collect pre-war cards of just about every sport and had a few other tough pickups as well.

One of those was this hockey card from the 1927-32 Die Welt in Bildern set. That set (translated from German, The World in Pictures) included many athletes, including a bunch from the Olympics. The cards were printed or various tobacco brands, including Constantin, Jasmatzi, Josetti, Manoli, Salem, and Salem (and maybe even more).

The cards are not particularly easy to find but I wouldn’t call them scarce, either. This hockey card is one of the keys for sports collectors as baseball, football, and basketball are not featured in it.

This card pictures the gold medal winning Team Canada hockey team. And this particular image was also used in other pre-war sets.

Another non-baseball card that was added was this golf card from the 1908 T114 Up to Date Comics set.

Fronts of the cards include color lithographic pictures while backs have ads for the set, noting there are 25 cards.

This tobacco card set is quite rare. It’s mostly a non-sports issue but does include this one card of a female golfer with a golf club behind her. The title is, “I am some Golfer.”

All cards from the set are rare but finding the golf card can be even harder.

Finally, a few more non-baseball cards.

The 1925 AC Stereoview card set has been known for its card of an unnamed Yale baseball player. The set also includes a lesser known sports card of an unidentified boxer, but that was the extent of the sports that I knew could be found in it.

Recently, though, I added a few others that I’d seen for the first time.

One, features a black golfer with the caption of, “The Embryo Golfer.” He’s shown with a black caddie and a white female spectator sitting in the rough.

A second sport card is a female swimmer. Like the others, she is not named but the card is titled, “A Modern Mermaid.” The third card pictured here is a non-sports one but I wanted to show it as it pictures the famous Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin’s card in the set is one of the few you see for sale quite regularly due to his popularity.

A final item picked up is the most unique piece — it’s a full newspaper sheet from 1927 that includes one of the rare Rinkeydink Stamps.

These rare stamps were printed at the top of pages in a comic section of various newspapers in 1927. As you can imagine, the majority of these were discarded like most newspapers are. But a few survived and these stamps have made their way into collections.

The set includes only ten players but mine, Walter Johnson, is probably behind only Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb in terms of popularity and value.

Here’s a picture of the sheet. The stamps are actually newspaper cutouts and are in the upper right part of the page. They were printed on these pages, which also included a Winnie Winkle comic. Winnie Winkle comics were printed from 1920 through 1996.

While finding the stamps is tough enough, finding entire, intact full newspaper sheets like these are incredibly rare. Just a very cool item.

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