In the Mail (February 2022)

In the Mail is a regular feature on the site — generally bi-monthly. Here, I’ll take a look at a handful of my most recent pickups. I won’t be showing everything here, obviously, and the focus is really on showing some of the more unique stuff. I will on occasion show more common cards (i.e. T206, etc.) but really want to focus on some of the more unique or obscure cards that collectors are not as familiar with.

It seems like 2022 just got here and we’re already nearly two months in. Time flies, as they say, and I find that truer the older I get.

My February buying has slowed down a bit but I was extremely active in January. I always have a difficult time trying to figure out what to highlight every month and the stuff I show is always a very small percentage of what I actually purchased. But I had an especially difficult time determining the January cards to feature. Just a lot of really great pickups.

Let’s take a look at a few items in last month’s mail.

One of the 2022 collecting ‘goals’ I’d sort of committed to was making more of a dent into the numerous 1930s and early 1940s gum card sets I’m working on.

Several of those sets have some very expensive cards. And, frankly, with the prices of 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig cards they way they are, I’m not sure if those sets will ever be finished. I’m not necessarily opposed to spending a few thousand dollars on a card but it better be something I really like. And 1930s gum card sets aren’t really at the top of my lists.

Nevertheless, I really want to make a big dent in these lists because many cards that I do need are commons.

1941 Goudey is a particular target I’m interested in just because it’s a relatively small set with only 33 cards and doesn’t have the really valuable stuff in other issues. The commons are much more expensive than in other sets, starting around $20 a pop. But there are so few cards that it’s a very manageable set. Mel Ott’s card is the most expensive one in this set and in January, I found this PSA 7 with an OC qualifier that I thought was too good to pass up. I’ve still only got about 1/4 of the set but getting the Ott out of the way was a nice pickup.

Speaking of set building, one issue I now find myself digging into was much less anticipated.

I had my first brush with the Imperial Lacrosse cards (issued from 1909 through 1911) last year. In all, there are three sets — two that are nearly identical in C59 and C60, and a third that is black and white, C61. While I’d seen these cards before, I never purchased one until finding a lot of six that included a pretty tough rarity with an upside down, wrong back.

Now, these cards are not easy to find, folks. Part of the reason I’ve mostly avoided them is, I like sets and there also weren’t any individual cards in the set I was terribly passionate about. But I loved the look of the six that I bought and found another seller with a large amount of them at fair prices.

Here’s a look at all of the recent purchases together, not including the dozen or so I already had. I’ve gone from having none of these cards to about 40% of the set.

It will take a pretty good-sized miracle to build this entire set. You just don’t see that many of them out there and I’m not even to the halfway point yet. But I am going to at least keep tabs on it and try to pick up new ones when I can.

While those cards are not easy to find, without a doubt the most unique pickup I had in January was this pair of 1889 Duke Coins of All Nations cards. Cataloged as N72, I’d heard of and seen these cards before, but other than maybe a handful of them, I never really paid much attention to the set.

In short, these are cards that Duke Tobacco issued that featured coins from around the world. There are several of those sorts of sets out there but this, I imagine, would have been one of the earliest.

Typically, this is a set that wouldn’t hold much interest for me. But I was floored when I found these two uncut panels from the set. Each one contains a total of five cards and these are certainly actual cards and not poster cuts as they are thicker and also have the full backs printed on them.

While it is not terribly uncommon to see uncut strip cards from the 1920s, finding tobacco or candy uncut strips/sheets is much tougher. And when it comes to 19th century issues, that’s tougher still. But here are two uncut strips from a 19th century tobacco set and, man, are they fantastic. It’s only February but I know that this will undoubtedly be one of the more unique items I pick up all year.

Had a couple of more 19th century finds while I’m at it. The most notable one to mention here is the bowling card from the N557 Little Rhody National Sports set.

Those of you that have followed this blog likely know of my obsession with the baseball card from this set. It’s quite possibly my favorite pre-war card and is just fantastic. But I’ve also started tracking the other cards in the short set with those just as rare.

To date, I hadn’t picked any up. Prices on them have skyrocketed and even for some of the more minor sports, you can pay several hundred dollars for them. A lacrosse example sold for nearly $400 not too long ago. And they are seen so infrequently that even if you want to spend that kind of money on them, sometimes you simply cannot find them to be able to do so.

But I managed to add the bowling card to my collection recently. I was intrigued by this one not only because it is part of a great set, but also because bowling issues from the 19th century are really rare. I’ve seen the sport depicted on some trade cards but offhand do not know what other tobacco sets the sport appears in.

I also spent some time in January adding a few non-cards to the collection.

First, was this medallion for Amelia Earhart.

I’ve been getting more into aviation cards and collectibles in the past year. And this medallion is really a truly special item.

It features Earhart on one side, recognizing her solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1932. But the really interesting thing about it is that these medallions were only given away at a banquet in Philadelphia held for Earhart by the mayor. The banquet and mayor’s name are both featured on the back.

How many of them are still in existence (or even how many were printed) is a bit of a mystery. But I did read somewhere that the mayor either had some extras printed or simply took some from the initial printing and mailed these out to famous people around the country. You can find instances of these appearing from time to time but they are certainly not available in high quantities.

The other non-card I picked up was a small booklet I recently wrote about, featuring Hall of Famer Dizzy Dean. I won’t go into detail about that item again but you can read about it here.

A less traditional type of card I also added was one of the T6 Murad College Sports cabinets. In particular, this is the one featuring Williams Basketball.

As I’ve written about before here, the Williams Basketball T51 Murad cards, the smaller, more common versions of these, are often considered to be the first true basketball card — even though you’ll find plenty of debate on that topic. These larger T6s were printed shortly after those and were redemption cards, so they’re much rarer.

I’d missed out on a T6 of the Williams basketball card a few times in the past so jumped at the chance to buy this one.

Speaking of non-baseball cards, the biggest single I picked up last month was probably this PSA 3 of Bobby Jones’ rookie card, found in the 1926 Lambert and Butler set.

I had no plans to acquire this card, really. It’s one of those that has skyrocketed in price lately, even though it’s not a terribly uncommon card. That isn’t to say it’s not priced fairly. After all, look at other highly-populous rookie cards of big names that hold strong values. The fact is that this is the rookie card of one of the greatest golfers of all time. That you could buy the card at low prices before was simply a product of fewer people chasing pre-war cards and, in particular, international tobacco cards, which have always been viewed as mass produced.

Because of the current spikes in prices (an SGC 3 just sold a few weeks ago for more than $500), I really hadn’t been tracking this card. It’s a fine card but golf is not a focal point for me. However, when I found this one at what I considered to be a bargain price, there was really little reason not to buy it.

Some things you buy less because you actually want them and more because they’re a flat out bargain. This one fit in that category for me. And man, was that ever the case in the final card I’m going to showcase.

I browse a few thousand eBay listings every day. There’s good reason for that because, every now and then, you stumble across an incredible bargain.

As much of a steal I thought the Jones was, this PSA 8 of Ty Cobb’s sliding card from the 1913 Barker Game set was a significantly bigger score.

For many years, the player on this card went unnoticed. But a closer look reveals it to be none other than Ty Cobb and ever since that was discovered, it’s gone from being a common to a card with much more value. The card is so well known that, typically, anyone that is well familiar with the Barker Game set knows it is a Cobb card, so it has become harder to find at bargain pricing. But every now and then, you can find it listed without Cobb’s name and offered for the price of a common.

That was the case here as I happened to be on eBay at just the right moment and catch this card soon after it was listed.

Because it’s a playing card and often in good condition, the prices for high-grade cards aren’t as exponential as they are for high-grade tobacco or candy cards. But it was still an incredible find given that it was priced only a little higher than what a common in the set typically is in this sort of condition.

All in all, January was a productive month.

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