In the Mail (May 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.

I mentioned the last time out in a pretty lean March version of In the Mail that my buying in February was much slower than normal. I ended up buying a new house last month and that meant card buying was on hold for a bit. Even beyond the financial constraints, heck, I’ve just been too busy with the logistics that come with moving. As a result, I never even got around to the In the Mail post for April. I haven’t been posting much in general the last two months.

Things are still, well, nuts. But they’ve slowed down sufficiently that I hope to be getting more articles up soon and, what better one to start with than the In the Mail post for the last two months of buys?

Things are just now getting back on course in terms of buying cards. And while I haven’t been buying a ton these last couple months, I’ve got enough interesting things to talk about here. So let’s get to it.

The biggest card I’ve bought since the last column was this Babe Ruth 1928 George Ruth Candy card.

If you’re unfamiliar with the set, this was a set of six Babe Ruth cards used to help promote his own candy brand. The cards are quite rare and they are legitimately tough playing days cards of Ruth.

Ruth stuff has been on the rise, of course. But one thing that prompted me to pick this one up was a recent string of sales of Ruth’s equally tough and earlier 1921 Schapira candy cards. Those were fetching roughly $10,000 per card in a recent Memory Lane auction — crazy, considering not too long ago, these were sub $1,000 cards in lesser condition.

I won’t be buying five-figure Ruth cards anytime soon. But I am starting to keep more of an eye out on what I feel could be bargain cards. And this SGC 2 fit that bill. These cards are fairly tough and pre-date Ruth’s wildly popular 1933 Goudey cards — they’re also, for now, a fraction of the price.

A relatively unknown seller on eBay had this one up for grabs and also a few others that were scooped up quickly via Buy it Now. In hindsight, I wish I had grabbed the others since I saw them shortly after being listed. But I’ll settle for this one that I felt was a nice score. If the common 1932 Sanella Ruth cards are pushing a grand these days, there could be some bargains out there to be had in a few of his other much rarer cards.

The next biggest card I landed was this 1882 E.B. Duval trade card of heavyweight champion, John L. Sullivan.

I wrote about the card here recently. Most notably, it has gained some additional recognition as being Sullivan’s rookie card. The card is a rare one and part of a set of mostly non-sports subjects. It is critically dated to 1882 thanks to the copyright printed at the bottoms of them, along the E.B. Duval name.

The card doesn’t necessarily have the appeal as more popular but later 19th century tobacco cards of Sullivan. His N28 Allen & Ginter card, N162 Goodwin Champions, and N184 Kimball Champions cards, in particular, are all desirable to collectors. But a rookie card is a rookie — and that has turned this one into a nice card to one that is becoming heavily sought after.

I’ve been heavily getting into a lot of singles. Probably a bit more so than I should be. But I am very much still doing the ‘set thing.’

Sticking with the boxing theme, I was able to finish off a nice set in the E75 Philadelphia Caramel Prize Fighters set by picking up the card of former champion Abe Attell. The card not only finished off the E75 set, but also completed the E75 and E76 ‘run’ — each consisting of 20 cards for a total of 40.

The two sets, issued in or around 1910, as I wrote about here, are pretty similar. In fact, they largely feature the same fighters and poses, often making it confusing for collectors to separate them. But there are a few differences in subjects and they are two distinctly different sets, best distinguished by the names on the front (E75s are all capital letters and E76s include lowercase letters). The Jack Johnson card in the E75 set is easily the most sought after card, though a few other Hall of Famers generate interest, too.

Attell is one that is chased, in part due to his involvement in the fixing of the 1919 World Series. His cards have been desired more by baseball collectors and his cards are now often priced among the higher ones in boxing sets where he appears. Interestingly enough, Attell was also the last card I needed for the T225 Prize Fight Series set I recently completed. His cards are out there, but some are no doubt being held onto and others have large price tags attached to them at times.

Another set pursuit came all at once. While I’ve had a handful of the 1936 Pet Cremer cards, I never really considered building the set.

These cards, if you’re unfamiliar with them, are one of the many German sets of the 1930s that mostly featured the Olympics. That’s bad if you prefer to collect recognizable athletes (few in these sets are household names) but good because the legendary Jesse Owens is scattered in most of these issues.

A near-set emerged in an auction recently and, while the thought of building these sorts of sets card by card hasn’t really interested me (in part, because finding affordable singles is not usually easy), knocking out an entire set at once certainly did. I won this near set, which included 140 of the 144 total cards. Even better is that the lot included all three of Owens’ cards, the U.S. basketball card (featuring the first Team USA basketball grouping), and the lone baseball card, featuring Japanese players. Now to track down the missing ones.

Speaking of large lots, I also managed to add a significant amount of cards to my growing Stollwerck Chocolates collection.

Collecting the full Stollwerck series (roughly 5,000 cards or so) is not on my to do list. But I am certainly adding new ones when I can and I jump at the chance to add them in bulk, which is almost always the cheapest way to do it.

A seller on eBay posted numerous sets a while back (each set usually, if not always, includes six cards) and I won a bunch of them — about 350, to be exact. Some were duplicates but most were not and that gives me 1,128 different ones now.

Again, I’m not real sure of a plan with these cards yet. I’m certainly not trying to find all of them. A bunch were even printed beyond the pre-war era and I’ve got no real interest in those. But I am very much going to pick up new ones from the pre-war era that I don’t have when the price is right (in this case, since it’s not a big priority, that means when they’re dirt cheap).

Stollwerck cards, a German chocolate issue, aren’t terribly well known. But many collectors focusing on pre-war cards have heard of them. Gartmann Chocolates is another German chocolate card series, but is even less known.

Similar to the Stollwerck cards, these came in mini sets (again, mostly, if not exclusively, consisting of six cards). They were mostly non-sports cards but some sports subsets made their way into the series, including one for winter sports.

The winter sports subset includes a hockey card I’d been dying to get my hands on for some time. It’s just one of those cards that rarely surfaces — similar to the many other Gartmann cards that are, in general, tougher to find than the Stollwerck issues.

But I managed to snag this one shown here and couldn’t be happier.

Finally, while I don’t really do much in the way of photos, sometimes I see something that I can’t resist.

I recently snagged this press photo of famous swimmer/actress Annette Kellerman (also sometimes spelled Kellermann). Kellerman was a world class champion swimmer but also became famous for going into movies. Notably, she was the first major actress to appear nude in a Hollywood film. She also created her own line of women’s one-piece swimming suits and is credited for helping to familiarize that clothing style.

This photo pictures a shot of Kellerman that is somewhat well-known and was used on one of her ten cards in the 1913 T221 Pan Handle Scrap Tobacco set. That was really the driver behind wanting this.

To the date, it appears to go back to at least 1935, which is the earliest recognizable stamp on the back. Stamps appear helping to identify when it was used in various publications and this one seems to have gotten a fair amount of use with one stamp as late as November 9, 1952.

Just one of those oddball items that I’ve come to love.

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