Sports Cards are the Keys to the Felix Potin Chocolates Series
The athletes pictured on these candy cards issued out of France are generally the most valuable ones in the massive series
Spread out over a period of about 25 years, the Felix Potin Chocolate cards contained a gaggle of subjects. While the majority were non-sports cards, a decent number of athletes were included and those are generally the more valuable cards. More than 200 of the roughly 1,800 cards in four Felix Potin series’ feature personalities from the world of sports.
Felix Potin issued its first set around 1900 (some sources cite 1898) and is believed to have distributed those cards until around 1908. The second series is credited as a 1907 or 1908 set and the third series is believed to be a 1921 or 1922 set. A fourth series came in the post-war era was printed in 1952. The cards feature personalities from all around the world but there is a decided slant towards French figures because of the French origins of the sets.
Felix Potin issued collector albums for each series (pictured here is a page from one), which were quite nice. There were not only places for all of the cards to be pasted into but the back of the preceding page that was opposite the pages for the cards included biographies for each subject. The albums must have been popular as many Felix Potin cards found today have some residue on the back, likely indicating they were once affixed to an album page.
For sports fans, there’s not much in the initial Felix Potin series. Aside from some cyclists, including noted champion A.A. Zimmerman, and some fencing cards, there’s not much there. Series 1 is really more known for its non-sports cards, including the likes of President McKinley and inventor Thomas Edison.
Things pick up in Series 2 for sports fans, fortunately. Still, even that set was lacking a bit.
The keys in Series 2 are early Black cycling champion Major Taylor and sharpshooter and Wild West showman Buffalo Bill. Additionally, there are other key cards, including one for female swimming champion Annette Kellermann, many other cyclists, and some of the earliest auto racing stars.
Series 3, however, is really where it’s all at.
Series 3 includes a Big Three of sorts with the likes of legendary boxers Jack Johnson and Jack Dempsey to go along with swimming champion Duke Kahanamoku.
Kahanamoku’s name may not be familiar to you but his cards sell for strong amounts as he is a bit of a cult figure that is credited with inventing the sport of surfing. Because he has relatively few pre-war cards, his early stuff is very sought after.
The Dempsey and Johnson cards are ‘opposites’ to some degree. While Johnson was still fighting professionally in the 1920s, he was past his prime after having lost the world heavyweight title in 1915 to Jess Willard, and no longer a contender to the title. Dempsey, meanwhile, was really still early in his career. He won the heavyweight title in 1919 and was still the champion when this set was released. This card isn’t quite a Dempsey rookie card but it is a very early card of his.
But that’s hardly all. Many other key sports cards are found in Series 3, including a slew of boxing greats, such as Georges Carpentier, Joe Jeannette, and Sam McVey. There’s also legendary Tennis Hall of Famers Bill Tilden and Suzanne Lenglen. Like Dempsey’s, the cards of Tilden and Lenglen are not quite rookies. But they are among their earliest cards.
Additionally, Series 3 has athletes from golf, tennis, rugby, soccer, auto racing, track and field, cycling, and more. There’s little question that it is the most valuable and star-studded series of them all.
Series 4 is arguably the rarest of the four series’ but lacks the big name punch found in Series 3. And because the cards are the most modern, they are typically not as desirable.
Like Series 1, many of the key cards in Series 4 are really the non-sports ones, including scientist Albert Einstein, President Dwight Eisenhower, artist Salvador Dali, and actor Charlie Chaplin. It does include some athletes, however, with the highlights from boxing in Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson.
The series also includes tennis, track and field, football, rugby, soccer, and more. These cards also look the most different with white borders. Series 4 was also different in that it was considerably smaller with only about 300 cards compared to the roughly 500 in each of the previous three series’.
Prices on the cards range quite a bit. Common sports subjects can sell for as little as a couple of dollars. The most valuable ones are generally the cards of Johnson, Dempsey, Taylor, Buffalo Bill, and Kananamoku. Even in lower-grade condition, those can easily still top $100.