In the Mail (May 2021)

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.

Man, time flies.

I just realized I never got around to the In the Mail segment for last month. And that’s kind of bad news for me because I’ve been doing a lot of buying lately — and it only means I’ve got some catching up to do.

It also means I’m not going to be able to cover some really cool pickups. Those are the breaks, though. I never have the time/space in these articles to cover everything I buy. But this one, unfortunately, is going to leave some cool stuff out because I’m trying to cram two months of pickups into one article.

Anyway, one of my first pickups since I last ran this article is a card that I’ve written about before. Ironically, it’s really the first classified card listed in the most recent version of the American Card Catalog — H1 A Capital Cigar, dating back to the late 1870s or early 1880s. The card is the first one listed in the first series of cards listed, the Currier and Ives trade cards.

I’ve been looking for one of these cards for some time — well over a year. And then two showed up immediately. I was fortunate enough to land this one.

Earlier this week, I wrote about collecting autographed pre-war cards. While I’m not going all in on these things, I am starting to keep an eye out for them. The first one that I bought was a Lefty Gomez autographed 1936 Goudey card. Two more that I bought recently were a 1933 Goudey card of Hall of Famer Carl Hubbell and this 1941 Play Ball card of seven-time All-Star Dom DiMaggio.

DiMaggio, as I mentioned, was a star player in the 1940s and a bit unheralded in comparison to his more famous brother, Joe. But he was a very good player and this is just a gorgeous card. The card itself is in great shape and the signature is just crisp and bold. Not to mention, it’s also shortprinted high number card in the set and, on top of that, is DiMaggio’s rookie card.

PSA has graded authenticated only a handful of copies and I’ve got to imagine that not too many others exist. DiMaggio signatures are not terribly rare but, as I wrote in that linked article above, autographs on pre-war and wartime cards are just not all that plentiful.

Since I’m largely a set collector, I couldn’t resist dipping my hands into a few new sets. Fortunately, some of those sets were quite small.

I started with this 1912 E47 American Caramel Jockeys partial set shown here. I got this lot of 15 cards all at once and there are only 20 in the set. Since then, I’ve added four more and have only one card remaining to complete it.

This is a great set that was partially re-released. As I wrote here, Allen & Ginter actually first distributed a larger set using these same images and riders (along with a few more that did not get issued in the later 1912 American Caramel iteration).

This was a quick and relatively painless set pursuit — just the way I like them.

The biggest oddity in the cards I’ve picked up in the last two months was this really tough card I’d been after for several years — a 1928 Cine Manual / Amatller Chocolates card depicting Basse Ball, otherwise known as baseball.

I covered this card here and it is actually the Obscure Card of the Month for the site. For that reason, I’m not going to go into too many details about this card specifically.

But the card was part of a pickup of the complete set. The set wasn’t particularly cheap but it is extremely rare and was in great condition. In addition to this card, there are several other sports cards, including boxing champion Max Schmeling, as well as many non-sports subjects, headlined by the likes of Charlie Chaplin. It’s a very weird, eclectic set that few collectors have ever even heard of.

One thing I wanted to be sure to hit was a mention of some T36 Auto Drivers cards that I got from Kin (aka, Bean’s Ballcard Blog on Twitter).

Kin is one of the resident experts on this set and has not only completed the 25-card set but is working on what would be one of the few known master card sets with all of the back variations (there are a total of four per card for a grand total of 100 cards).

He’s been pursuing those cards for quite a while and, as a result, had some duplicates that he gladly sent on to me once he found out I was working on the set. Just a really great gesture.

I wrote about this set here and I’ll actually be following up at some point with a look at other early auto racing cards.

Another set I’ve been suckered into starting is the 1889 N165 Goodwin Games and Sports cards.

These cards are quite unique in that they feature generic subjects participating in a variety of sports. The distinguishing characteristic is the presence of women.

Many women are depicted playing some of the sports. And every card includes a close-up portrait of a random woman. It’s kind of a bizarre looking set but one that draws interest not only because it’s from the 19th century but also because it includes really popular sports, such as baseball, football, tennis, and more.

The cards, particularly the baseball ones, have really risen over the years. And that the set has four baseball cards doesn’t help keep the price down. But I got these 14 cards in one fell swoop for a reasonable price so I’ve got about 30% of the set down already.

Speaking of sets, I was thrilled to buy a complete, 510-card 1908 Felix Potin set.

I don’t want to go too much into detail yet because I plan on a full article on the entire Felix Potin pre-war series. But essentially, these cards are much like the c1900 Ogden Tabs General Interest cards in that the subjects are all over the map.

They are largely non-sports cards but do have a fair number of athletes, too. Most of the big name cards are in the third series released in 1922, but this one includes cards of black cycling champion Major Taylor and Buffalo Bill. Those were the two main cards I wanted from this set, but it also included female swimming champion and pioneering actress Annette Kellermann, president Teddy Roosevelt, artist Claude Monet, and more.

Another purchase was a large group of mostly early 1900s Stollwerck Chocolate cards. I wrote about these cards recently as well.

Stollwerck, a German candy maker, printed a few thousand cards spread out over several decades. The majority of those cards were printed in the pre-war era.

The Stollwerck cards contain a hodgepodge of things. But unlike the Ogden and Felix Potin cards I just mentioned, many of the subjects are generic. And many of the real people depicted are politicians, military personnel, or others that are mostly lost to history.

The set, however, is collectible because it contains some sports cards as well as some real people that are quite famous, including the likes of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and many more. Pictured here are cards of Beethoven, Isaac Newton, Napoleon, and Donatello.

Finally, the biggest purchase I made was a large lot of c1910 baseball caramel cards.

This assorted lot contained many E90-1 American Caramels, E92 Dockman Candy, E93 Standard Caramels, and E95 Philadelphia Caramels. A random T207 of Hall of Famer Zack Wheat was also included. Now, I wouldn’t typically cover relatively common cards like those here but at roughly about 50 cards, it was a significant buy.

Despite the size, there’s another reason I’m mentioning it. The key was an unadvertised, crease-free Dots Miller E90-1 Sunset variation card. The card was not called out in the listing as a rarity (even though it is) and in its condition in today’s market, could easily be a card that approaches $1,000. Just a really nice find in a lot that was already a strong buy, given the condition of many of the cards.

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