Unique Merchant’s Gargling Oil Trade Card a Companion to 19th Century Baseball Set
This 19th century trade card almost looks like it belongs in a popular baseball card set
The H804-7 Merchant’s Gargling Oil set is one of many comical baseball trade card issues. With cards starting at about $10-$15 each, the five-card set is arguably the least expensive 19th century baseball card set. It always makes my list of recommendations for great, cheap, old stuff when someone asks for me for affordable baseball cards from the 1800s. These days, there simply isn’t much of that but this set is an exception.
The set features an overweight baseball player in a series of humorous images. The cards were advertisements for Merchant’s Gargling Oil. Shown here is one of the cards if you aren’t familiar with them.
While five cards are definitively in the set, I stumbled upon a separate issue that is a companion of sorts.
Some collectors would argue (correctly) that there are many other Merchant’s Gargling Oil trade cards in existence. That is certainly true but this card is one with striking similarities to the company’s baseball card set.
For starters, this sixth card features what looks like the same man as found in the baseball set. Further, while he is not wearing the full baseball uniform, he is wearing a red shirt while those uniforms were red and white. The card also has the exact same bottom advertisement portion as found on the other five baseball cards. Finally, the man is even brandishing a baseball bat of sorts as he is being kicked by a donkey. With a thin handle and a large barrel, it looks more like a baseball bat and less like a simple stick.
So, could this potentially be a sixth card in the set? Absolutely not — there are a few reasons for that.
While the card has a similar layout to the baseball cards, it is not exact. The biggest difference is the title format of the card. The baseball trade cards have baseball-themed titles while this one does not. The man is also not in the same baseball uniform as he is on the other cards. Less important, but notable, this card has a horizontal layout while all of the others are vertical. In a nutshell, while it might look like it belongs a little bit, it is very clearly an entirely separate issue.
Still, it’s a nice companion to a fairly popular trade card set. And priced similarly like the others, starting around $10-$15, it’s an extremely affordable collectible.