In the Mail (July 2022)

In the Mail is a regular feature on the site that reviews some of the cards I’ve acquired during the last month. 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.

This month has actually been a bit of a slow one in terms of picking up cards. But, as you know by now, these articles feature cards from the previous month. And June was a nice one in terms of card buying.

Let’s take a look at a few of those pickups.

The biggest card I added last month was this 1939 Play Ball card of Joe DiMaggio.

I’m sort of breaking the rules here by showing a card from a relatively common set. But the DiMaggio is a card I’ve been after for over a year now as I’ve been building the 1939 Play Ball set.

If you’re familiar with these cards, the first thing you’ll probably spot is that the card is slightly trimmed on the bottom and right edges. That’s unfortunate but it’s also what keeps this from being a $1,000+ card.

Now, I don’t prefer low-grade cards. In fact, as I wrote last month, I’m actually in the middle of a pretty extensive upgrade package for my T205, T206, and T207 sets. But in the current market, prices for the big cards have really shot up in value. So when you’re piecing together a few dozen sets, trying to upgrade others, and still find money for buying singles, you save where you can. And while the 1939 Play Ball set is a nice one, for me, I’ve just got bigger interests.

Suffice to say, this DiMaggio works just fine for me. The last card I need in the set is the Ted Williams rookie, then I can put that one to bed.

Sticking with baseball, I was glad to add this overprinted 1929 Kashin photo card of Yankees pitcher Tom Zachary.

If you are very familiar with the Kashins, you likely know that a small number of them have been found with advertisements printed on them. Most of those have the advertisement printed on the blank-backed cards. But cards with a stamp for the Anthracite Baking Company, Inc. bear that mark on the front — at least the ones I’ve seen.

I’ve only heard of a handful of these cards and I now own four of them with this pickup (last month I added the first three I’d come across for sale).

And as an aside, I’d love to hear of others with this stamp that are out there. If you’ve got one or seen one, drop me a line. I’d love to see more.

The last baseball-related pickup I wanted to mention was this 1905 New York Giants postcard.

This card also doubled as a scorecard, as you can see on the front. It’s one of the more well-known postcards featuring actual players from the pre-war era. It’s not exactly plentiful but there are usually some on eBay floating around.

This one features players from the New York Giants. The big name on it, of course, is Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson. But as I wrote here recently, the postcard includes other notable players, too. This is one of the more affordable Mathewson cards out there or the taking and a bonus of this one is that it is one of his earliest cards.

That’s enough baseball. How about some football?

I love whenever I have the chance to pick up pre-war football cards. The great majority of those issues were postcards, which usually featured generic subjects. But even in those instances, I get a kick out of seeing some early depictions of the sport.

I was really intrigued when stumbling upon these cards. The players are outfitted in red and blue uniforms. If you’re unaware, that was a common theme in early football stuff as depictions often sought to imitate Harvard and Yale, two of the earliest teams.

These cards were meant to be distributed as reminders to churchgoers to attend church on Sunday. These sorts of postcards were somewhat common and often included a handwritten note on the back, written to a person that missed church on Sunday. In the case of these cards, they were directed towards a man named James Bateler. You can see the backs here, but it was amusing to me to see James get two of these cards a few weeks apart in the fall of 1945.

Securing two of them addressed to the same person was just one of those really fascinating finds.

Those cards all came from American sellers, but I also did a lot of damage in buying across the pond.

My favorite pickup of the month probably came in the form of more than 3,000 Ogden’s cigarette cards (c1900). These were cards from the Ogden’s Tabs General Interest set and the Ogden’s Guinea Gold set.

Now, many were duplicates. The massive 1,560-card Ogden’s Tabs General Interest set is one I’m personally working on. Of about 2,000 of those cards, I found about 150 that I needed. That might seem like a big buy for so few cards I actually needed but I got them at a good price and many of the cards I needed were from the difficult Series F and high number Series C sets.

Additionally, there were about 1,200 Guinea Gold cards and I only had a few of those. And yes, you guessed it, I’m now working on that 1,148-card set, too.

Here’s a picture of just the Tabs cards.

I also picked up a rare tobacco sports cards set from the UK, too. This one is the c1915 British American Tobacco Sports of the World set.

This is a set I’d been trying to piece together for more than a year. But finding the cards can be challenging as they were distributed in the UK and Australia. The set includes different sports around the world with the key card one that pictures baseball in America. Other well known sports are included, too, such as tennis, boxing, soccer, and wrestling.

These cards were distributed by several different tobacco and candy brands. The set I’d been working on was simply a mix of these brands, simply because the cards are somewhat rare. However, this set is the one issued by British American Tobacco with blank backs. The cards are probably the second rarest type behind only the sepia-colored blank-backed McRobertson’s Candy cards, which are by far the toughest to find.

Finally, an interesting pickup from the UK was this card of cricket legend Jack Hobbs. The regular card from the 1928 Wills Cricketers set has a standard bio of Hobbs on the back. However, this one I picked up was blank-backed with a weird ‘Proof’ and ‘CLB’ mark.

I’ve seen this same designation/stamp before on another Wills card that I have from a series of dog cards. That one, too, is blank-backed and has the appearance of a hand cut card. Fronts of both cards are the same.

What is this, exactly? Hard to say. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen actual proof cards marked as ‘Proof’ here in the US. And I have no idea what to make of the CLB marking. But at the same time the cards are very clearly blank-backed and not merely cards with the back text worn away (something that was common with 1930s cards that were pasted into albums and then removed).

For now, this one remains a mystery.

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