Obscure Card of the Month: Buchner Morning Glory Maidens Baseball Card

The Obscure Card of the Month is a rare 19th century baseball tobacco card

While not the intent, the Obscure Card of the Month has sort of turned into a feature of rare cards I’ve personally added to my collection recently. I sort of hate that because I think I do enough focusing on my own pickups in the monthly In the Mail articles. But lately, I’ve just been finding some very cool, very tough cards that make them a good fit for the Obscure Card of the Month.

This one is also a recent pickup for me — the Buchner Morning Glory Maidens card featuring the baseball player.

Simply calling this card rare is a bit of a slap in the face to the rest of the set. The fact is, all cards from the 51-card set are very difficult to come by. Many of the cards have never been graded by a major grading company and they’re just rarely seen. Occasionally, you’ll see some on eBay but don’t expect to see these at card shows or your local card shop unless there are some dealers specializing in pre-war. Even then, good luck. I’m not sure I recall seeing any for sale even at The National this year, though it’s entirely possible that I missed a few.

As mentioned, there are a total of 51 cards in the set. A grand total of only 23 have been graded by both PSA and SGC combined. Of course, not all of the cards out there are graded. But the few that you see out for sale along with these population report numbers give you an idea of how difficult the cards are to find. Compare them to population reports for other 19th century sets and you’ll see that they are rarer than the more popular issues.

The Buchner Morning Glory Maidens cards are usually dated to either 1888 or 1889. They are listed in the American Card Catalog as N285 and feature an assortment of sports and non-sports subjects. It’s a rather eclectic mix as you’ve got about 15 women dressed as athletes, 24 dressed representing non-sports occupations, and 12 representing each month of the calendar.

While any card from the set is desirable, the athletes are the ones generally pursued the hardest. And while cards depicting boxing, football, and cricket are sought after, it’s the baseball card that garners the most attention. The card is similar, though significantly different and rarer than the N557 Little Rhody America-themed baseball player, which also features a woman holding a baseball bat.

The backs are nearly as beautiful as the fronts, even without imagery. I’m a sucker for elaborate back advertisements and this one certainly is that, even if too much text is crammed onto them detailing the many prizes that could be received for redemption of the cards. The backs also provide what could be a clue as to why they are so rare as most prizes required turning in a few hundred cards. The cheapest prize, a pocket book or a knife, ‘cost’ 100 cards. If many of these cards were redeemed and not returned to collectors, that could help explain the rarity.

Commons in the set in decent, raw condition typically start around $50-$100. The sports cards, usually, are a bit more than that. A low-grade cricket card with two corners missing just fetched about $200 on eBay. That gives you an idea of what you will pay or one of the more popular low-grade sports cards.

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