Comic Strips, Women in the Workplace, and Baseball — Tracing the Origins of the 1927 Rinkeydink Stamps
Here’s a look back at the mysterious origins of the 1927 Rinkeydink Baseball Stamps
The 1927 Rinkeydink Stamp series is one of those issues not familiar to most collectors. Even pre-war collectors that have heard of these miniature ‘cards’ would be hard-pressed to provide much information about them. But their origin dates back to the 1920s — particularly, a comic strip that would ultimately become quite popular.
And it’s somewhat of an interesting backstory, if you’ve got the time.
Ever heard of Winnie Winkle? Chances are, if you’re below the age of, say, 40, probably not. Winnie Winkle was a popular comic strip that debuted in 1920. And though it lasted nearly 80 years, wrapping up printing in 1996, its popularity had probably long since faded well before that. In its later years, only a few newspapers bothered running it.
About the Comic
Winnie Winkle was the name of the series an of the strip’s chief character. The comic was about a working woman, who was taking care of her parents and adopted brother.
For 1920, as you can imagine, that was somewhat of a unique situation. And in fact, while not the first, this was one of the earliest comic strips that featured a woman in the workplace as the main character.
Winkle was revered as a hero to many girls in the time. She dressed sharp, was independent, and legitimately supported an entire household, often turning away male suitors and doing everything on her own. A series of short movies were made about her in the 1920s and even today, you can find an assortment of Winnie Winkle collectibles, including books, pins, dolls/toys, and yes, some trading cards.
The series took on many twists and turns. Winkle was single for the majority of the series but ultimately did get married in the late 1930s. However, during World War II, her husband suddenly disappeared and Winkle was left pregnant with twins. Future adaptations later showed her married again. This was apparently too much for some newspapers to stomach. A Time Magazine article from 1941 cited that the Baltimore Sun was dropping the series due to her pregnancy.
Due to the series’ length, the comic strip was drawn by various artists. Martin Branner, the strip’s first artist headed the project for more than 40 years before it was later taken over by his assistant, Max Van Bibber, a series of art school students, and then an artist named Frank Bolle, who took it to completion.
In all, it probably lasted far longer than Branner could ever hope.
About the Rinkeydink Stamps
But what do comics have to do with the Rinkeydink Stamps?
With the Winnie Winkle series yet to turn even ten years old, a series of baseball stamps appeared at the top of some of them in 1927. The exact connection with the stamps and the reason for their printing isn’t exactly known. Similarly, we don’t know if Branner was the one that created the stamps. But we do know they were part of the Winnie Winkle comic series because of some newspapers that were discovered.
Shown above is a full sheet of a Winkle comic in my collection with a Walter Johnson stamp. Here is a close up version of the stamp.
These stamps were printed at the top of the strips in the title box. At least with this one, there was no explanation. It’s simply titled, “Rinkeydink Stamp” and has a cartoon image of Walter Johnson, along with his name. It has a No. 2 inside of it, leading you to believe that is a card number. However, all Rinkeydink stamps found have this number. I had never bothered to understand that logic much but, as it was pointed out to me on Twitter, two cents was the cost of an actual postage stamp in 1927. Some of the backs of these stamps also make reference to the ‘2nd Comic Section,’ so that number could be tied to that reference as well.
The likenesses of the players, for a small cartoon sketch, are legitimately reasonable in terms of artistic quality. I’ve seen far worse artwork on strip cards, after all, and many of the subjects at least look like the players to some degree.
There are a total of ten in the series. The set is highlighted by the likes of Johnson, Babe Ruth, and Ty Cobb. Also represented are Tris Speaker, Rogers Hornsby, Grover Alexander, Bucky Harris, Eddie Collins, George Kelly, and Herb Pennock. And if you’re keeping score, all ten of those subjects became Hall of Famers.
The Rinkeydinks are certainly not traditional card cards and not even stamps in our traditional sense. But in pre-war days, newspaper cutouts like these actually were called stamps. These are similar to the Sport Stamps series that appeared in newspapers across the country in the 1930s. These small stamps measure 1 5/8″ tall by 1 1/4″ wide, though that can vary slightly, depending on the exact cut.
Because of the nature of their printing, it is understandable why the stamps are so rare these days. To date, PSA and SGC have combined to grade only about 50 of them. Because these were printed inside of newspapers, the majority would have likely been discarded shortly after production. Even savvy collectors at the time would have been hard-pressed to hang onto them and nearly a century later, it is unsurprising that so few have survived.
Oh Yeah, About that Name
Now that we know where the stamps originated from, one question remains — why that name?
The Rinkeydink name is somewhat confusing to most and the logic behind it isn’t immediately clear without taking the comic into account.
But the name is not some made up title. It actually ties into the comic strip because of Winkle’s brother, humorously named Perry (Periwinkle, get it? Periwi … never mind). In the comic, Perry ran around with a group of children named the Rinkeydinks. As the series developed, some of the comics were devoted to the antics of Perry and the other children.
The excerpt here from my paper shows a sign being hung to announce their new business venture — the ‘Rinkeydink Datekiff Agencey.’
Ultimately, it’s very cool that the name of the stamps tied directly into the series. Some collectors have assumed the placement of stamps was a random one and not really tied to the comics. However, that is clearly untrue and they were very much a part of the Winkle series in general.