Discovering a New York Coffee Die-Cuts Trade Card Set

Little is known about this 19th century sports trade card set

Recently, I picked up one of those quirky sets that was entirely new to me. And while I use the term ‘set’ here, even that may be a bit misleading as I’m not sure if the five cards comprise a full series.

The cards, themselves, are curious looking. Die-cuts of a total of five children are shown here — three boys and two girls. And while specific sports are not named on them, they have a decided sports feel.

Pictures of the children seem to depict them as athletes of a sort. One boy in an all white outfit looks like a cricket player holding some sort of stick (that even looks like it could be a tennis racket). Another boy in a horizontal striped shirt is wearing clothing reminiscent of early football or rugby (think of the striped trade card set I’ve written about before). And the children wearing multi-color shirts with vertical patterns look similar to what you would see jockeys wear.

But even dismissing that speculation (after all, it could be argued these are just standard clothes of children in the era), this is undoubtedly a sports issue as each child is pictured standing atop an athletic ball. Three of the balls look like athletic balls that were used in the pre-war era, or even basketballs. Two, with different patterns, look distinctly like baseballs or tennis balls.

The cards are different sizes because of the variances in height of the children. However, they measure approximately 6″ to 6 1/2″ tall. The balls at the bottom measure about 2″ wide.

These particular cards have a red stamp at the bottom for the New York Coffee Company along with a stamp beneath that title of simply “New York.” That would seem to indicate like many trade cards, they were used by more than one company. However, even that is not confirmed. Backs of these specific cards are blank.

The New York Coffee Company name is interesting in that, references to it online that I have found show it to be from outside of the state. This site references it as being located in New Orleans. A D&B listing for a company by the same name has that one based in California. Is it possible the company was located outside of New York? Could be. And that could be the reason a seemingly duplicative ‘New York’ stamp exists beneath the New York Coffee Company name on the cards.

I’m hoping to find more information on these cards but am not holding my breath because I know that could take some time. I’ve never seen them before and while I’m sure others have, it just seems like one of those oddball types of sets that is somewhat ambiguous in nature.

And I’m fine with that — I love this stuff.


While I have seen a total of five cards in the set’s checklist, it is not known if others exist.

  • Boy – Blue/Green Shirt
  • Boy – Green/Red Shirt
  • Boy – White Sweater
  • Girl – Green/Pink Shirt
  • Girl – Red Shirt

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