Recapping My Favorite Pickups in 2021 (Part 2)

Yesterday, I covered the first half of my favorite card pickups from 2021. Here’s the second half of that post with my top six favorites.

No. 6 – 1910 E90-3 American Caramel Chicago White Sox Team Set

I saved one of my best pickups for the end of the year.

Up to 113 of the 121 cards in the set, I’ve made a ton of progress on the E90-1 American Caramel set. But I also quietly have begun work on the E90-2 and E90-3 American Caramel sets, too.

I’ve not been chasing those nearly as hard because they’re significantly rarer and, well, you can’t chase everything all at once. I’ve seen some for sale but unless I found tremendous bargains, I’d mostly been passing on them.

Nevertheless, I had picked up some from time to time. I’ve only managed to get one of the E90-2 cards (a Pittsburgh Pirates team set) but before the final week in December, had gotten 10 of the 20 E90-3 cards (a Chicago White Sox and Cubs set). But with only a few days left in the year, I made a deal for the entire White Sox set.

Some of those cards are duplicates for me, including the only Hall of Famer in the set, Ed Walsh. But the highlight in the entire E90-3 set is the major league rookie card of Chick Gandil, ringleader of the players for the 1919 Chicago White Sox fix in the World Series. Gandil’s card (upper left) is sharp and just an utterly fantastic piece of work. That was the main reason I wanted this set, despite the other duplicates.

No. 5 – Blank-Backed Caramel Cards

If you look for enough auctions on eBay, every now and then, you’ll find a bargain. And I certainly found one with this lot of three blank-backed caramel cards of Larry Doyle, Bill Bergen, and Larry McLean.

Back in June, I found these blank-backed caramel cards that were listed on eBay. The cards were indeed labeled as blank backs but ultimately did not command much attention and surely went under the radar. Since acquiring them, I’ve had several offers for them from a handful of collectors that I’ve turned away.

Some potential buyers may have been scared away because the cards were not graded. But they came from a legitimate seller and I felt pretty good about them. When they arrived, those good vibes were confirmed. The cards are legitimate blank backs and not merely skinned versions. That is evident not only from the smooth backs but also because the cards’ thickness is the same as found on regular cards.

Because these card fronts appeared in a few different sets, it isn’t possible to confirm exactly which set they belong to. However, because they were all found together, one would assume they were all from the same set. And the only sets each of these three images were found in were E92 and E101. I would suspect they are blank-backed cards from one of those two sets.

No. 4 – 1900-22 Felix Potin Complete Set

The three Felix Potin sets, issued from around 1900 through 1922, comprise a massive issue. With more than 1,500 cards, piecing together a complete set through buying individual cards would be a very difficult pursuit.

Frankly, I’d never even bother to try something like that. But I was fortunate enough to find all three of the complete sets in three separate auctions and, voila.

The sets, like almost all complete sets of Felix Potin cards, are bound in binders. Many of the cards were only lightly taped and some have fallen out. But all 1,500+ cards are present and it’s an incredible collection. It’s primarily a non-sports set with all sorts of subjects, including military leaders, presidents, entertainers, inventors, musicians, and more. But it also has roughly 100 or so sports cards. The biggest sports cards in the set are boxers Jack Johnson and Jack Dempsey, surfing legend/Olympic swimmer Duke Kahanamoku, and cyclist Major Taylor. Taylor’s card, in particular, has become highly sought after, selling for over $1,000 in a recent auction.

No. 3 – E90-1 American Caramel Rarities

Sure, these were two separate buys. But I’m lumping them together here because they both came at the early part of this year and are both two very tough cards in the 1909-11 E90-1 American Caramel set.

I really wanted to make some good progress on this set in the past year and I accomplished that. Two really big cards I was able to knock off the list were the cards of Tris Speaker and the Cleveland variation of Cy Young’s card. These are undoubtedly two of the rarer cards in the large set.

Both cards, too, are quite presentable despite low technical grades. Speaker’s card is technically low at a PSA 1 grade but that’s due mostly to a small spot of paper loss in the background of his card. Young’s card is also technically low but only due to corner wear and a light crease in the lower left hand corner. Both have clean backs and really present extraordinarily well. Getting one of these cards last year would have been noteworthy but both was really nice.

No. 2. – N285 Buchner Morning Glory Maidens Baseball Card

This is a card that I’ve wanted for several years but did not envision getting my hands on anytime soon. That’s because they are extremely rare.

The entire 51-card set, in fact, is quite rare. You hardly ever see any of those cards for sale and that’s evidenced somewhat by the total of 23 that have been graded by both PSA and SGC combined. Finding the baseball card is extremely difficult since the few that have one, I imagine, are in no hurry to get rid of them. Only a handful of the baseball cards have been graded and this one that I bought here in the Vintage Non-Sports Auction, is the highest graded of them all as an SGC 3.

The set includes women dressed in various attire. It’s largely a non-sports set with 12 cards dedicated to representation of each month of the calendar and another 24 dressed for non-sports occupations. The remaining cards, however, are devoted to various sports. The women depicted were not real athletes but it’s another one of those 19th century sets that used females to attract male smokers.

In most years, this easily would have been my top pickup. But this was no ordinary year.

No. 1 – Louis Lowdermilk T207

Soon after completing my 520-card T206 set and the T205 set the following year, I decided to pursue a run of the American Tobacco Company’s T205, T206, and T207 sets.

While the T207 set issued in 1912 is the least popular of the three, it was certainly the most challenging. Now, a fully complete 524-card T206 is nearly impossible for most collectors with the seven-figure Honus Wagner card. But excluding the four rarities in that set, T207 is the real toughie of the trio.

The T207 set is littered with roughly 50 shortprinted cards and some seem downright impossible to find. I’d completed the bulk of the set about two years ago, missing only a handful for completion. But coming into the National this summer, I needed only the rare Louis Lowdermilk card. I’d not seen one for sale since passing on a $1,400 example that sat on eBay for about a year before someone finally bought it. So when I heard of one at the National, I dropped my plans to relax for the day after flying in earlier and went to the show in hot pursuit.

The rest is history.

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