1981 Diamond Stars ‘Extension’ Recreated Alleged Planned Set Additions
In 1981, a hobby shop issued what are believed to be planned additions to the popular 1930s Diamond Stars set
In the 1930s, Goudey was the undisputed king of baseball cards. While many other sets were produced during that time, no one seriously challenged Goudey for their throne in that decade.
National Chicle was one of the companies that tried, though. Issuing their own cards with gum products, the company produced some landmark sets, including Diamond Stars baseball cards, the first mainstream set of professional football cards, and perhaps the most popular set of aviation cards in the pre-war era.
In particular, the 1934-36 Diamond Stars set has the attention of baseball fans. It is far from the ideal set, mind you. The series was missing several key players despite a healthy checklist. And while new sets were issued in 1934, 1935, and 1936, the design and many of the players in it remained the same. But the set with its art deco style of design has gained almost a cult following. The cards are very popular these days and completing the set is much less expensive than tackling the mammoth 1933 Goudey release.
Despite the fact that backs of the cards advertised 240 cards in the set, that never even came close to happening. That isn’t necessarily an indictment of National Chicle. After all, that sort of thing happened with other sets, too. But with the company issuing only 108 cards in the set, we know that there were plans to ultimately make it much larger.
For the most part, we don’t know how that was going to be achieved. In other words, the identity of additional players is mostly undiscovered. However, a proof sheet that was alleged to have come from the family of a printer of National Chicle cards seems to suggest the identities of players for 12 more cards.
The only known record of the cards comes via an uncut sheet that looks very much like something you’d find in a print shop. It is said to have surfaced in the 1980s and no other known one has ever been discovered. It was available in SCP’s 2016 April auction and sold for just over $62,000. That was actually less than a previous reported sale, according to Beckett, when it fetched $75,000.
While there is only one of those sheets around, collector Denny Eckes, who owned a card shop named Den’s Collectors Den, actually reproduced the 12 ‘proof’ cards. This allowed collectors to add them to their original 108-card sets. The original sheet was blank-backed but Eckes had printed backs added to these reproductions to make them more like the original cards. Those cards were issued in 1981 and Eckes even had a Diamond Stars wrapper designed. Assuming the find did actually occur in the 80s, if Eckes released the cards in 1981 he obviously moved quickly.
As for the checklist of the new cards, it’s somewhat of a lackluster lineup. There are four Hall of Famers in the additions, including Goose Goslin, Lefty Gomez, Rogers Hornsby, and Jim Bottomley (Hornsby and Bottomley share a card). But unfortunately, the really big names, such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and some others are still missing.
The Diamond Stars set was issued from 1934-36 and one question you might have is if these would have been 1936 or 1937 cards. There’s a bit of debate on that topic and this SABR article takes a crack at trying to address that.
Eckes assigned card numbers to the new additions found below. The numbers, of course, start with 109 where the set left off:
- 109 – Benny Frey
- 110 – Pete Fox
- 111 – Phil Cavarretta
- 112 – Goose Goslin
- 113 – Mel Harder
- 114 – Doc Cramer
- 115 – Gene Moore
- 116 – Rip Collins
- 117 – Linus Frey
- 118 – Lefty Gomez
- 119 – Jim Bottomley and Rogers Hornsby
- 120 – Lon Warneke
There have been numerous sets over time that sought to expand original pre-war series’. While I’m not much interested in those sorts of cards, this edition is a bit difference since they at least were recreated from what appear to be actual planned cards for the set. I am largely disinterested in newer cards that are additions to earlier sets because most are without basis. But I’m currently working on a Diamond Stars set and I have one of the 12-card extensions just as a bit of a novelty because I love the fact that they were derived from what appear to be entirely planned, legitimate cards from National Chicle.
Today, the cards are not hard to find and they are not expensive. Individual cards typically run a few dollars each but you can save a bit by finding a complete set. Some sellers will ask a little more but those often are in the $10-$20 range.