Obscure Cards of the Month: 1933 Wheaties Skippy Baseball Cards
The Obscure Cards of the Month are a pair of Wheaties baseball cards from the 1930s
Skippy was a cartoon character that was the brainchild of artist Percy Crosby in the 1920s. Crosby’s comic strip featuring Skippy was quite popular and led to the character’s appearance in all sorts of things, including Wheaties. At one point, Skippy was used in Wheaties’ marketing efforts and showed up on a cereal box. The character was so popular that it was even turned into an Academy Award winning film (Best Director with several other nominations). In that film named ‘Skippy,’ the character was played by Jackie Coogan.
What’s this got to do with cards? As part of Skippy’s popularity, Wheaties distributed a set of 12 cards featuring the cartoon — and two of them were baseball cards.
The Wheaties Skippy set (identified as F272-23 in the American Card Catalog) is a combination of sports and non-sports cards. Half of the cards generate less interest, with Skippy involved in a series of mundane tasks, such as brushing his teeth and visiting a girl. But others focus on sports, including boxing, club swinging, weightlifting, and yes, baseball.
Each card includes a cartoon depiction of Skippy on the front, along with a caption and a car number. The front also gives us the copyright date of 1933 and includes the ‘Skippy, Inc.’ name — the company created by Crosby. The backs are what give us the Wheaties tie-in. Crosby’s signature accompanies each sketch on the card.
As stated there, the cards were packed inside of Wheaties products. The backs encourage children to ‘Be like Skippy’ by eating Wheaties and doing the same three things he does everyday — clean and brush their hair, brush their teeth, and, of course, eat a bowl of Wheaties.
Typically, I limit the Obscure Card of the Month to a single card. But I’ve made an exception for July to include both of the baseball cards from the set.
Card No. 7 in the 12-card set is titled, “Skippy hits a ‘homer’,” and pictures him as a swinging, right-handed batter. Card No. 8 shows Skippy in the same outfit but, this time, as a pitcher. That one’s titled, “Skippy strikes ’em out,” as he prepares to throw a ball.
The cards were printed on a relatively thin cardboard and, today, you’ll often find them damaged. It’s a somewhat condition-sensitive series and the cards are easily creased, meaning premiums should exist for cards in better condition. One thing of note regarding condition is that the cards have a ‘stop sign’ style of cut — meaning that they have deliberate cut corners in a diagonal fashion, as opposed to having straight cuts. Those corners are not hand cut by collectors. Rather, that is how they were cut and distributed.
They’re also relatively cheap cards. Common non-sport cards from the set start around $5 and even the baseball cards usually only start in the $10-$15 range.