Pre-War Basketball Card Sets
Most collectors view 1948 as the year basketball cards were first printed since that was the year of the landmark 1948 Bowman set. But while there aren’t many pre-war basketball card issues (and no major complete sets), there are several basketball cards that were a part of multi-sport sets from the era.
Basketball was not even invented until 1891 and didn’t become widely popular for a while after that. The first recognized basketball cards by many collectors are those in the 1909-10 T51 Murad set (one is pictured here), which was a multi-sport issue with four basketball cards of generic players at various colleges. Earlier cards may exist but many collectors often cite these as the first.
The NBA, after all, didn’t surface until after the pre-war era in 1946. Then, it was known as the Basketball Association of American. For those reasons, it makes sense that pre-war basketball issues would be scarce.
They aren’t the first, but arguably the most popular of the pre-war basketball cards are found in the 1933 Goudey Sport Kings set. That set included four basketball cards, including three Hall of Famers (Nat Holman, Ed Wachter, and Joseph Lapchick).
Collecting pre-war basketball cards may require some concessions, too. Early cards sometimes feature the sport of netball. While similar to basketball, it isn’t quite the same thing and there are some differences.
Here is a listing of pre-war sets that included basketball cards. Almost all are multi-sport sets containing other non-basketball cards as well. Cards and collectibles are classified below by type.
1933 C.A. Briggs (Multi-Sport)
1930s Chocolates Amatller Los Deportes (Multi-Sport/International)
1933 Goudey Sport Kings (Multi-Sport)
1930 R79 Leader Discs (Multi-Sport)
1930s R161 Walt Disney Comics (Multi-Sport)
1925 V31 Dominion Chocolate (Multi-Sport/International)
1924 V122 Willard’s Sports Champions (Multi-Sport/International)
Postcards (Sets and Professional Players Only)
Anonymous College Girl Athletes Postcards
1907 Basketball Girls with Sweaters Postcards Set
1911 Fidler American Girl Series Postcards Set (Multi-Sport)
M. Greiner Women Basketball and Football Fans Postcards Set (Multi-Sport)
1907 Sam Mortenson College Postcards
1939 Bolivarian Games Stamps (Multi-Sport/International)
1938 Caribbean Games / Panama Stamps (Multi-Sport/International)
1934 Far Eastern Championship Games Stamps (Multi-Sport/International)
1939 FIBA EuroBasket Lithuania Stamps (International)
Trade Cards/Paper Dolls/Blotters
College Schedule Blotters (Various)
Servus Basketball Shoes Blotter
1909-11 T6 Murad College Series – Cabinet Cards (Multi-Sport)
1902-13 T7 Turkish Trophies / Hamilton King Girls (Multi-Sport)
1909-10 T51 Murad College Series (Multi-Sport)
1903 Tetlow College Girl Series (Multi-Sport)
1930s Thomas D. Murphy Company Blotter
1894 Z9 McLaughlin Coffee XXXX Paper Dolls (Multi-Sport)
1890s Z12 Enameline College Colors Paper Dolls (Multi-Sport)