1902-03 Ogden’s Tabs Series 95, 97 Sets Boasts Lacrosse Card Origins

The famous black-bordered sets feature what are believed to be the first lacrosse cards of real players

You’ll find all sorts of subjects in the many different series’ of the Ogden’s Tabs General Interest cards. Among them are what are believed to be the first traditional trading cards of real players in the spot of lacrosse.

When I’ve written about the fantastic Ogden’s Tabs General Interest cards before, those articles have primarily referenced the Series A-F cards — a massive 1,560-card set from 1901 and 1902. However, Ogden’s Tabs Cigarette cards spanned many more sets, including some other ones known as General Interest, a hodgepodge of subjects.

Here, there are two that we’re particularly interested in.

One is the Ogden’s Tabs General Interest Series 95, believed to consist of 196 cards. These have the appearance of the same cards in the rare General Interest C series that are numbered 201-300, only these don’t have card numbers. The distinguishing characteristic of these is a narrower style of font for the Ogden’s name.

The second is the General Interest Series 97. That one is similar to the General Interest Series F cards numbered 321-400. Those have the same traditional Ogden’s block font but, like the Series F cards, also are not numbered.

Buried among the highlights of those two sets are what are believed to be the first traditional cards of real lacrosse players.

Truth be told — these aren’t the first lacrosse cards. A handful of earlier cards featuring the sport are found in a few 19th century card sets, as documented here in Todd Tobias’ excellent lacrosse card website (all sets are multi-sport series’ also documented on this site). But what makes the Ogden’s cards a bit different is that they are viewed as the first cards to picture actual lacrosse players. While there are some earlier, larger style of cabinet cards featuring real players, these Ogden’s cards are the first traditional trading cards of such athletes.

In all, there are three cards here. The first, and the one that holds the claim as being the earliest, is the 1902 Ogden’s Series 95 card for the Woodford Lacrosse Team.

None of the players are named on the card and the backs of these cards are blank. While there is no other information about the team printed on this card, it is a real, honest-to-goodness picture of an actual lacrosse team. Of the three, this one gets the ‘earliest’ claim as it was issued in 1902.

While I haven’t yet been able to determine the roster for this club, one player that is likely pictured is Hubert Ramsey, a member of Britain’s silver medal winning team in the 1908 Olympics. His Olympic bio lists him as a club member of Woodford prior to joining Essex County in 1903.

The second in this trio of cards could be considered the first card of an individual player.

Charles Hubert Scott is identified on his 1903 Series 97 card as C.H. Scott. Scott would have only been about 20 on this card featuring him as a goalkeeper. But don’t be surprised by his inclusion as the only individual player featured in the Ogden series’.

Scott was very talented and also played at the Olympic level, serving as the goaltender for Great Britain on that same 1908 team that Ramsey appeared on. And his Olympic bio refers to him as ‘a lacrosse goalkeeper of the highest quality’ and indicates he was playing team lacrosse for Duke of Argyll’s at the age of 18. In 1904, he helped Middlesex defeat Surrey to win the Southern Counties Championship, according to that bio.

Fittingly, on his card, he is pictured in goal.

The third card in this series also comes from the Ogden’s Series 97 set issued in 1903. Here, we get a different sort of shot with an in-game action photo.

This card features a game between Middlesex and Essex. Strategically, I’m not sure if the plan was to include three distinct types of photographs (a team portrait, an individual player, and an in-game visual with several active players), but that makes for a very nice combination.

And while the players here go unnamed, the Middlesex and Essex names were ones that regularly came up in my searches for information on these cards. Old newspaper archives from the UK, in particular, mention games between the teams, including a 1902 contest with Middlesex besting Essex, 13-8 — reportedly the first time Essex had been defeated by a Southern county. Is this a picture of that contest? Impossible to say.

Prices for all of these cards have gotten a bit higher. Still, for now, they have typically sold for under $50 each, which seems criminally low given their importance and combined with the rarity. The Ogden’s Series 95 and 97 sets may not be scarce, per se. But as someone that has furiously collected the Series A-F cards, these are harder to find than most of those, with the exception of the higher number Series C and F cards. They are not terribly easy to find and, with more collectors chasing lacrosse cards these days, I don’t see the prices remaining this low.

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