1921 Self Developing Strip Card Checklist Expands with Six New Cards

A recent discovery of the rare 1921 Self Developing Strip Cards led to several new checklist additions

The 1921 Self Developing Strip Cards set is so rare that it isn’t even clear what the cards are. They are checklisted in the Standard Catalog of Vintage Baseball Cards as cards that were produced by the collector, essentially using real photo negatives to create them. But even that isn’t confirmed, nor is the manufacturer/distributor.

The set is even so little known that it seemingly went undiscovered by Jefferson Burdick, author of the American Card Catalog. The set is not classified in that landmark book.

Before about a week ago, only 13 cards were in most known checklists, including the Standard Catalog’s. Two others, Christy Mathewson and Ed Murphy had been auctioned previously, eluding the majority of checklists, giving us a total of 15. And now a recent find has added six cards to that checklist.

I wrote about this exciting discovery recently after speaking with a woman who had a whopping 19 of these cards (18 with one duplicate). You can read more about that here at Sports Collectors Daily. The cards were discovered behind a gun case in her aunt’s house, which is being prepared for sale. The cards she has are not only in tremendous condition but six were completely unknown to the hobby. We now know of a total of 21 cards in the checklist.

The new cards added to the checklist include some big names — Hall of Famers Zack Wheat and George Sisler are the biggest along with other Cooperstown inductees Rabbit Maranville and George Kelly coming in behind them. Two other cards of Bobby Roth and Duster Mails round out the new additions.

The date is also a bit of an unknown, too. That’s always been sort of the case but is even more so now thanks to one of the new finds. While the players and teams used suggest it is a 1921 issue, there is evidence against that with at least one player/team combination not adding up.

The Roth card recently discovered pictures him as a player for Cleveland. But Roth was only with that club from 1915 through 1918. But 1921, he was with the Yankees and several years removed from the Indians.

That doesn’t mean the 1921 date isn’t correct. After all, the distributor of this set could have simply used the image from him in Cleveland if it was all they had available.

While that sounds silly, consider that Roth played 415 games for that team and bounced around the majors otherwise, not even spending that many games for all of his other teams (White Sox, Athletics, Red Sox, Senators, and Yankees) combined. Even if the maker of these cards did have other Roth photos available, they possibly may have wanted to merely picture him with the team he was affiliated the most with. And then, the possibility also exists that his Cleveland photo was used in error. Simply put, though, the 1921 date is certainly in question, even if it is generally accepted these days.

This set has been seen so little that many collectors are not even aware of it. So when this many new cards are added to a checklist, it’s always exciting. Now the question is, how many more cards are potentially out there from this set?

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