Third 1915-16 Obsequio de Susini Baseball Card Remains a Mystery
A baseball scene in the set offers plenty of intrigue
The massive 1,300-card Obsequio de Susini set from Cuba covers all sorts of topics. In it, you’ll find cards of celebrities, transportation, dances, and World War I. But the key to the set is a 50-card subset that pictures athletes.
The set is listed as N230 in the American Card Catalog. That might give the impression that it is a 19th century set but instead, N-Cards at the time of the book’s publication were actually cards that were issued in Central America and South America. This was very much a 20th century set.
Similar to the motif of the overall set, the sports offering includes cards for all sorts of sports. The set is broken into a total of six subsets with the sports subset as the third (thus, the sports set is N230-3). Boxers are led by the legendary Jack Johnson. There are also cards of tennis, golf, cricket, hockey, wrestling, and more — including baseball.
Many collectors have never heard of this rare set. And, to my knowledge, its distribution date has never even been fully confirmed, though it’s expected to be in 1915, 1916, or both. But for the few domestic collectors that are aware of it, most know it because of the three baseball cards.
The highlight of the baseball cards is one that features Hall of Famer Tris Speaker. Even in low-grade condition, the card typically starts around $150-$250. Speaker has been positively identified on the card through photographs. A second card features outfielder Red Murray, who played for the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Giants, and Chicago Cubs. But it’s a third card that provides the most intrigue, even as it often sells for the least amount of money.
The third baseball card is No. 203 in the set is a bit of an unknown. The picture depicts a baseball scene but little is known about it. Shown is a sliding baserunner, a fielder, and an umpire. It looks as if the base in question is first base with a coach off to the side.
But the players pictured remain unidentified. While this is a Cuban set, the other two baseball players featured on the other cards were major leaguers. Because of that, this scene is likely another American baseball scene but the poor image gives little more away. I’m not even sure the teams have ever been identified by any collectors.
Will the card always be an unknown? Possibly. But one thing that would help, of course, is finding the original image used for the card. That could include documentation of players pictured and provide confirmation of the players shown. Short of that, however, identifying any of the subjects will be very difficult.
For now, the card is bought and sold as if the players were inconsequential. It is a difficult card to find, much like the others. To date, PSA has graded a total of only five of these cards, speaking to its rarity.
Despite that, it’s generally an affordable card when you can find it with low-grade examples starting around $40-$50. But if it was ever determined that the card featured a star player, you can bet that the value would rise sharply. After all, a common T202 card sold for small amounts, too, until it was determined that Shoeless Joe Jackson was a likely subject on the black and white panel portion of the card. That raised the price by several hundred dollars and today, the card can easily sell for $1,000 or more.
To date, though, the card’s subjects have remained a mystery. And despite the gains made in the identification of other pre-war cards over the years, the identity of the players may never be known.