Players in ‘generic’ PC792 Postcards from early 1900s have mostly been identified — including Hall of Famers
Few know that the long-time set of supposedly generic players in the PC792 postcards set actually depict real major leaguers
In the early 1900s, a set of six baseball postcards was released by an anonymous printer. Despite being more than 100 years old, these postcards actually surface with some degree of regularity today. Most collectors of early baseball postcards, in particular, should be familiar with them.
Because no names are featured on any of the postcards, this is often taken for a set featuring generic players. And while that has kept prices on them low, these do feature actual major leaguers.
Little is known about the set. For starters, it’s often touted as a 1905-09 set. But that is usually on the strength of Old Cardboard’s knowledge of postmarked dates seen on the postcards from those years. That is typically as good as it gets for being able to date unknown series’. Jefferson Burdick could only offer this up as a c1906 set, perhaps on a similar basis for his hypothesis.
Still, while that gives us a general set as to when these postcards were issued, it’s not definitive. A postcard that is postmarked, of course, does not guarantee it was produced in that year. A 1908 postmarked issue may have only been printed in 1905 and sat on a shelf for three years before it was actually used. About all we can sufficiently say when it comes to dating postmarked postcards is that they would have been printed no later than the date of the stamp/mark.
We also do not know the makers of this set. A bald eagle stamp appears on the reverse of each postcard but no specific name or company is printed on either side.
We do, however, know most of the players featured on the cards, though, thanks to a great thread on Net54 that matched several of them with the original photos used to create them. Many collectors might think this is new information. This is a little-discussed set and a relatively small amount likely know of the player connections. But the thread is about eight years old and the information, thus, not all that new. Still, it’s not information that is widely documented, really, so I’d always wanted to write something about it here.
The two big guns in the set are Hall of Famers Frank Chance and Jimmy Collins, and both are part of different baseball action scenes. Chance is pictured as a batter along with an umpire and catcher Frank Roth. His identity on the postcard (shown here) was confirmed through the actual photo used for it (as seen here).
And this site identified Collins in his card as a fielder with an unidentified sliding baserunner. It is the same picture used in the much rarer 1907 Morgan Stationery ‘Red Belts’ postcard series.
A third postcard has positively been shown to depict outfielder Ollie Pickering, who suited up for six different teams in his eight-year career.
Pickering’s card (pictured above) pictures him as a batter. His is slightly interesting as the pose is a bit off from the established real photo of the player. Specifically, the angle at which he is holding the bat is mildly different from the actual known photo. However, the rest of the image is close enough in nature that it is fair to positively identify the hitter as Pickering. Why would the pictures vary? It’s possible the actual image used to create the postcard was snapped a second before or after the known image in that Net54 thread. It’s also possible the bat angle on the postcard may have been manually adjusted/drawn because the bat in the known real image is partially obscured. Whatever the reason, the match is close enough to sufficiently call it a Pickering card since everything else, down to the wrinkles in the uniform, seems to match up.
The fourth and final identified card is that of pitcher George Winter.
Winter appeared in more than 200 games as a member of the Boston Red Sox from 1901 through 1908. His final games in the majors (also in the 1908 season) came with the Detroit Tigers. Ironically, in that short span in Detroit he put together a dismal 1-5 record but the 1.60 ERA he had was far better than his time in Boston.
Here’s the postcard of Winter along with the actual picture, which would been used to create it, positively identifying him as the Red Sox hurler.
So that covers four postcards — but what about the other two in the set?
Unfortunately, the final two postcards have not yet yielded positive identifications — at least not that I have seen anywhere.
One card, shown here, features a leaping fielder. The Net54 thread mentions a player named Ed Gagnier that was known to have stamped his name on this image, with at least a few known. However, the exact image used for this photo has never been found and Gagnier’s major league days (er, Federal League days) didn’t come until 1914 and 1915 — long after we know these postcards were issued. Thus, calling this a Gagnier card does not seem to fit.
The final card in the set depicts a batter and catcher (pictured at the very top of this article). It is somewhat similar to the Chance/Roth card but does not include an umpire.
No real information exists to identify specific players on this one, either, though an ‘NY’ is seen on the uniform of the batter.
So what about values for these cards? Because they are often believed to be generic, they can often be found for small amounts, similar in price to the gaggle of other generic-subject baseball postcards from the same era. You can sometimes find these for as little as $8-$10 in lesser shape.
That price, however, is not truly appropriate, in my mind. Most cards known to feature actual players typically sell for more and true asking prices from dealers that are aware of the tie-in can often be closer to $15-$30, or even higher, particularly for the Chance and Collins cards.
None of the cards are what I would call rare. However, I have certainly seen less of the Chance (and especially the Collins) cards around than the others. I’d hesitate to call those cards rarer — rather, I can see collectors scooping them up and hanging onto those a bit more than the common players in the set.