Reviewing Andy Pafko’s Salutation Exhibit Cards

Andy Pafko’s Salutation Exhibit cards are among the many interesting variations in the popular set

The 1939-46 Salutation Exhibit cards are among the more popular types of Exhibits. Sure, the set has some very difficult shortprints but it’s also a largely affordable series.

The set has so many variations that I’ve debated many times just how many actual cards belong in the checklist. And two of those variations belong to Cubs All-Star Andy Pafko.

When it comes to baseball cards, Pafko is most famous for his 1952 Topps card since he is Card No. 1 in that famous release. But there are some interesting things about his Exhibit cards, too.

If you’re not familiar with the Pafko Salutation Exhibits, the tl;dr is that there are two different cards. One features Pafko is a Cubs uniform. While barely visible, you can make out parts of the logo on his jersey and hat. The other Pafko card uses the same image but has the Cubs logo scrubbed in both areas.

The variation has caused collectors fits over the years. Typically, that sort of logo removal usually is done to reflect a player’s team change. But the Salutation Exhibits are said to have been issued from 1939 through 1946 and Pafko was a member of the Chicago Cubs that entire time. So what gives?

Well, the short answer is that, while the majority of the Salutation Exhibits were printed from 1936-46, some were printed beyond that into the 1950s (and even early 1960s). A second grouping of Exhibit cards were issued from 1947-66 and some of the Salutations cards were believed to have been printed during those years as well.

That is apparently the case with Pafko’s scrubbed logo cards. The telltale sign is that those cards have a ‘Printed in U.S.A.’ designation (as opposed to the earlier cards, which often said ‘Made in U.S.A.’). According to this page, the ‘Printed in U.S.A.’ cards were not released until 1954 and ran through 1963. Pafko’s Printed in U.S.A. card would have come in between as he joined the Milwaukee Braves in 1953 after playing two years in Brooklyn. That explains the removal of the logos on some of his cards.

And it also means, of course, that some would debate if the no logos variation truly belongs with the rest of the set. Yes, it’s a Salutations card. But it is one that was printed years after the bulk of the release. Placing it with the rest of this set seems somewhat silly. A better designation, it seems, would be to include it with the massive 1947-66 Exhibit series instead. And without opening up an entirely separate can of worms, the same could be said for the other Salutations cards that were printed beyond 1946.

Interestingly, Pafko’s later cards are significantly harder to find than his earlier cards. That seems to indicate that the print run for those was quite small or that, more likely (as those later cards aren’t terribly rare), the earlier Exhibits were just printed in somewhat large quantities.

Another bit of intrigue here is that the true Pafko cards issued between 1939-46 are in fact the star’s rookie cards.

Now, Pafko did not begin playing in the majors until 1943 — and even then, he appeared only in 13 games with the Cubs. Thus, his cards would not have been printed any earlier than that. But he does not appear to have any other traditional cards until 1946-47 as he’s found in the Propagandas Montiel set. So even if his Exhibit cards were not printed until the last year of production in 1946, they would still qualify as rookie issues.

Despite the fact that the earlier cards are rookie issues of a five-time All-Star playing for a popular team, prices remain low on them, starting around $10 for lesser-grade examples.

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