Who’s That Woman with Max Schmeling?

The 1932 Bulgaria Sport set is an international multi-sport tobacco card set. Despite the name, it wasn’t issued from Bulgaria. Rather, Bulgaria Sport was a tobacco brand and the set is actually a German release.

Because of that, all sorts of German athletes are highlighted in it. Much of the set consists of relatively minor (and in many cases, little-known) athletes but there are some big names. There’s Hall of Fame golfer Walter Hagen, tennis great Bill Tilden, the legendary Olympic champion Sonja Henie, and famous aviator Charles Lindbergh, among others. But by far, the biggest name in the set is Babe Ruth, who is found on a card alongside Hall of Fame boxer Max Schmeling.

I’ve written about this card before. It was a card made possible because the pair happened to find themselves in the same city at the same time. And if we’re being honest, here, as this is a German set, Schmeling was the real attraction for many collectors overseas.

Many collectors know of that card. It’s one that, like other Ruth cards, has increased in value significantly. Previously found for as little as $50-$75 a few years ago, it’s a card that now starts in low-grade condition now at around $200-$250. But what few know is that Schmeling is actually found on a second card in the set.

While the set is mostly broken out in smaller groups of athletes from the same sport, the last few dozen cards are sort of a hodgepodge of subjects. One of the final cards in the 272-card set is No. 254, which features Schmeling with — his mother.

Titled, Schmeling und seine Mutter (Schmeling and his mother — the cards are in German), the card pictures Schmeling along with his mom sitting at a table. Adorable.

Like other cards in the set, there’s no caption on the front. But the back has a description, indicating Max seems to be at his mother’s home. The back mentions his affinity for his mother before discussing his boxing career a bit.

I was sort of taken with this card simply because I think the subject matter is interesting. After all, how many cards do we know of that feature an athlete with his mother. Those might be a little more common today but in the pre-war era, I think an image like this is quite rare and not found on many sports cards.

It’s somewhat interesting to me that Schmeling did not get a solo card in the set. He did get two cards in the set, obviously. But as Germany’s most popular athlete at the same time, not seeing an action shot of Schmeling on his own card is somewhat interesting. On both cards, Schmeling is pictured in plain clothes outside of the boxing ring.

Looking for one? The good news is that Bulgaria Sport sets are out there. Many of these sets are often found inside of a special album that was offered to collectors. But the bad news is that, finding individual Bulgaria Sport cards, aside from the Ruth/Schmeling card, can be a little tougher to find.

If you do find this card individually, however, it probably won’t be terribly expensive, usually starting somewhere around $10-$20.

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