In the Mail (November 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.

Missed the In the Mail segment last month. For one thing, I didn’t purchase a ton of new stuff in October. For another, I just didn’t have the time to piece the article together.

Fortunately, I did find some time to cover both October and November — and November was a pretty big month for pickups. Safe to say, it was one of the bigger ones of the year. So what’d I find?

From a set building perspective, the biggest individual card I managed to pick up was a Cy Young E90-1 American Caramel portrait card.

I’ve been close on this set for a while but that’s all relative. The last seven cards I need are all tough ones and finding any is incredibly difficult. The few times that any have surfaced, prices have just been through the roof. I expect it’s a set I’ll ultimately complete but, well, it may take some time.

I’ve managed to knock out some of the bigger names in this set in the last year or two, including the other Cy Young card (pictured here), Honus Wagner’s ridiculously tough throwing variation, Tris Speaker, and a few others that are just rarely seen.

The portrait Young card is arguably the easiest to find of the remaining cards I needed. And similar to a few others, it’s one of those I’m kicking myself for not buying sooner before the price hike. Very low-grade Young portrait cards could be had not too long ago for well under a grand. That isn’t the case these days. Finding this card for under $1,500 these days is just very difficult.

The biggest buy of last month was also related to setbuilding. But it was more than an individual card.

The 1908-10 E91 American Caramel set is another one I’m working on. Really, this is three sets, issued in 1908, 1909, and 1910, that all have the same American Card Catalog designation (E91). Ironically, the rarity of the cards decreased as they were produced. The E91A set, issued first in 1908, is the toughest. E91B in 1909 a bit easier to find, and E91C in 1910, a bit easier still. It is certainly possible the popularity of the cards aided in the decision by American Caramel to increase production each year.

At any rate, I nearly had E91A complete with 28 of the 33 cards. A near set of the cards, interestingly enough, also at 28/33 complete, came available and I pounced. The reason? The price was a good one, the lot included three of the five cards I needed, and the Christy Mathewson that came with it was in much better shape than the very faded version I had. But, really, this was just one of those lots I grabbed because it was a nice buy.

Couple more set-related grabs.

One was this large lot of about 60 photos from the 1936 Goudey Wide Pens Type I set. For those familiar with the set, you know that’s half of the set of 120 for this particular subset.

This was always a set I steered clear from in the past. The biggest reason is that these are not technically ‘cards’ — at least not in the truest sense of the word. They measure roughly the size of a narrow postcard and are printed on thinner, glossy paper. They’re fine collectibles, mind you. And the fact that they were distributed by Goudey and are in the American Card Catalog (R314) has made the targets of many collectors.

Still, with 120 cards (just in this Type 1 subset — in all, there are nearly 250 in the entire five-subset series spanning two years) and the fact that they are miniature photos always just never made them that interesting to me. They’re also from the 1930s and cards from that era are a clear No. 2 in my collection behind the earlier tobacco and candy issues.

Nevertheless, similar to the E91 pickup, these ‘cards’ were simply at too great of a price to pass on. And given that I’ve got a little more than half the set, it’s one I’ll be working on at least somewhat passively.

Finally, similar to the E91s, i grabbed another near set of a set I was already working on — the 1933-34 National Chicle Sky Birds set.

This is one of those sets I only really got into within the past couple of years. It’s a fantastic set of 108 aviators, including the most well-known card of Amelia Earhart.

Yes, price was a motivating factor in picking up this nearly complete set when I was only a handful of cards away on completing the set I’d been working on. But I was also interested in it because the cards were largely mid-grade condition and simply in better shape than most of mine. It also included a few cards I needed so I’m only one card from completion on one set and about ten cards away on the second.

Alright, enough set talk.

And with all due respect, those pickups, while significant, don’t really serve the purpose of the intent of this article. I like showing some of the more unique stuff that folks haven’t heard of and that was the case with a few singles I picked up recently.

One, I’ve already written about recently. I won’t go into too many details because of that as you can read the recap in that article. But, in short, this is one of the rarest cards I have ever purchased — and one of the more unique. It’s a ticket card for a benefit game held for a baseball player that died in an accident.

To date, only two different ticket cards are known. One for William Smith (mine is shown here) and another for a second player, Lewis Henke.

The cards are so scarce that many, including myself, had never even heard of them. But they first surfaced to the public in the early 2000s and even since then, are not widely known.

This next card, while rare, is at least more recognizable.

I was fortunate to get this c1942 Editorial Bruguera card of Babe Ruth recently. I had heard of these cards before, obviously, but had never owned a Ruth from the set.

While I think this is a card collectors are getting more familiar with, it’s still somewhat of an unknown. That prompted me to write about it and make it the Obscure Card of the Month for November. Also unknown to many that have seen it is that it’s actually part of a set of athletes from all around the world. Sure, Ruth is the headliner. But the set also includes Joe Louis and other big names.

This card, from Spain, is after Ruth’s playing career. But it’s also a wartime issue that preceded the numerous later post-war sets he’d be featured in. And because it’s a rare issue, that adds to the intrigue behind it.

The last card I’m going to feature is a mostly non-sports issue.

This fascinating card is a cabinet card dating back to around 1900. It includes a total of 64 different subjects — the majority of which were actresses, which were often seen on cabinet issues.

The unique thing about this one, of course, is that so many subjects appear on it. Most cabinets featured a single subject or only a few people. This one has miniature pictures of numerous folks.

The highlight of it is the fifth image in the first row, which pictures heavyweight champion John L. Sullivan. But also pictured are some other famous characters, including King George, president Benjamin Harrison, and what look to be other presidents, including William McKinley and Grover Cleveland.

So what gives? Why are there so many small images printed on this particular card? These cards are believed to have been salesman samples. Salesman promoting the full-size cabinet cards individual subjects would likely carry these to show off the different cards available. Many cabinet card series’ allowed customers to redeem items or outright buy cabinets featuring famous subjects. Cards like these allowed customers to see what the images looked like.

It’s a fascinating card and one that I really need to dig into. I’d love to identify more of the subjects on it.

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