Tuesday, January 31, 2017

1916 (D329) and 1917 (D328) Weil Baking Co Baseball #5, Leon "Red" Ames and Fred Anderson

Louisiana! Home to endless choices for great food, great music, and Joanie on the Pony.

Joan of Arc statue - (c) Ashley Merlin

Louisiana! Erstwhile home to one of those food choices, Weil Baking Co., and their paeans to baseball, the 1916 D329 and 1917 D328 sets. You know them from this advertising back.


1916 D329 (1-3/8 x 3, above) is slightly smaller than 1917 D328 (2 x 3-1/4, below), which shows in the amount of white border.

Helpful D328 inscription, more scans on Net54

As often happens with early sets, hobby pioneers like Jefferson Burdick didn't have perfect data resources, so didn't put everything in perfect order. Based on player and team listings, we now know D329 came a year before D328. Their 200-player checklists run alphabetically and share many names in common, but changed enough year-to-year that D328 is Fred Anderson and D329 is Red Ames.

1916 D329 #5, Leon "Red" Ames

1917 D328, Fred Anderson

Most consider D328 and D329 sets as back variations of the 200-card M101-4 and M101-5 sets, as conceived and printed for licensing to regional businesses by Felix Mendelssohn. Felix's print company pitched its blank-back sets to businesses, who added ad info like "H. Weil Baking Co.," etc. Those businesses then sold or gave away singles, lots, and sets to baseball-loving customers as incentives.

Sample of M101-based ad backs

Because of the newspaper's nationwide reach and lasting appeal to baseball fans, The Sporting News is the easiest ad back to find in today's market, so collectors have also cast that umbrella name over these sets. Cards that still have blank backs are properly catalogued M101-4 or M101-5, depending on their checklist and cropping. OldBaseball.com's gallery of M101 backs shows all known examples, which vary greatly in rarity and price premium. For an updated, in-depth look at M101 back scarcity, see "Details of M101-4/5 Backs" at OldBaseball's Reference Library. It's great work.

Office, H. Weil Baking Co.

You can read much about H. Weil Baking Co. and see its set checklists at LouisianaCards.com, which specializes in that state's early 20th century baseball sets.

Value: I've seen low-grade M101s for $10, but Weil Baking runs 2-5x times that because of back scarcity. Weil's not a truly obscure back, fortunately, so you can find an affordable type card with patience.

Fakes / reprints: Many M101-based reprints exist, both as sets and for individual stars. Some eBay sellers are especially shameless about selling reprints without calling them out as reprints. Use caution and look for dealers who carry a breadth of authentic vintage material.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Top 5 Photos from R313 National Chicle "Fine Pen" Premiums

The 1930s produced great vintage sets, including some of my favorite individual cards.

1933 Goudey #155, Joe Judge

Those blue lines and bloused uniform, wow. Such clean, outstanding work.

Hand-tinted, line-heavy figures like this Joe Judge reflect similar Art Deco stylings of the era.

Laurence Fellows (1885-1964) - 1930s Fashion

Boston gum competitors National Chicle and Goudey, top card makers of the 1930s, each took a shot at on-card Deco, possibly sharing the same on-card artists, since both companies operated just a few miles apart in Boston and Cambridge, MA. National Chicle made "Diamond Stars Gum" in that style and it still looks great.

1934-36 National Chicle #9, Mickey Cochrane

Artists hand-painted each player from photos, adding spirit and depth to black-and-white originals. As with Mickey Cochrane, they often swapped out realistic backgrounds for something more artistic.

But painted pieces don't tell the whole story. As the Great Depression deepened and fewer fans had pocket change for luxuries, card makers cut costs by creating less "artistic" options to offer alongside their fancier packs. Both companies printed batches of postcard-sized "premium" photos later catalogued as R313 (National Chicle) and R314 (Goudey). Collectors swapped their card wrappers for these photo premiums in stores or via mail.

Since R313 and R314 black-and-white premiums aren't as familiar to modern collectors, let's look at five of them to get a feel for their style.

1. Chicago City Series, Washington Safe

Most R313s show player portraits, but several were action shots with descriptions scrawled on the front. I had to Google "Chicago City Series" for more context on this play at first.


"Chicago City Series" would've been familiar to 1930s fans, but it's a tradition that's gone by the wayside. It alludes to a postseason matchup between the Cubs and White Sox that ran 26 times between 1903 and 1942. After many of those regular seasons, both teams faced off in a World Series-like best of 7. (See SABR's overview of this particular city series.)

I'm not aware of play-by-play from these games, so can't say for sure what play this photo shows, apart from White Sox OF George Washington about to beat #14 (Cubs P Larry French) to first base, as French searches for the bag with a raised foot.

2. Glenn Uses Football Play At Plate

The play below's much more dramatic than #1's infielder grounder and could easily send a guy to the locker room for x-rays. I mean, look at that knee, ouch.


This play's from a preseason exhibition, given its rural background and long woolen sleeves on the runner. "Glenn" is Yankee Joe Glenn, a part-time backstop for several seasons in the Bronx and elsewhere (career stats). Not sure who the runner or umpire would be, but remember the shape of that tree on the left...

3. Joe DiMaggio Slams It, Erickson catching

This 1936 photo shows a dynamic Joe DiMaggio tracking his shot to left field and headed for first. It's one of Joe's earliest pro images and perhaps his first card in a real Yankee uniform. We know this is spring training in part because Joe entered Yankee camp as #18, but changed numbers by Opening Day.


"Erickson catching" is Reds backstop Hank Erickson, who played sparingly in 1935 and failed to stick in the bigs for 1936 (career stats). This is Hank's only card in a Cincy uniform and he appeared on just one other during his career, as a minor-league Toronto Maple Leaf on Goudey's aforementioned R314 Premiums.

Remember that tree earlier? Look behind Joe and you'll recognize the same limb and leaf structure. Also compare the angled roof above that umpire to the circular inset on this postcard from New York's St. Petersburg training site. It confirms where we are: the ball fields at Crescent Lake Park.


Given the similarity in camera angles, I suspect both card photos come from the same 1936 Yankees vs. Reds spring training game. It wouldn't be the first or last time a card maker saved money by creating several cards from the same game!

TIP: Want a DiMaggio card from his playing days? This R313 remains his most affordable, running $100-300 in low grade.

4. Oswald Bluege for WGN


This candid of lifelong Washington Senator Oswald Bluege holding a WGN microphone is ahead of its time and would be right at home in a modern Topps set. High five to National Chicle for including something so whimsical at a time when baseball served as an important distraction from the Great Depression for many Americans.

5. Honus Wagner

The immortal Honus holding a baseball. That works for me.


Wagner turned 62 in 1936 and was inducted that year as part of baseball's "first Hall of Fame class" with Ruth, Cobb, Mathewson, and Walter Johnson. He's shown in uniform as the Pirates hitting instructor and continued in that capacity through 1952.


If you're ever in Pittsburgh and stop by its terrific PNC Park, you can still touch history by visiting the Honus Wagner statue. The Flying Dutchman himself attended its unveiling in 1955 and his likeness followed the Pirates to a pair of new ballparks since. The past is never far away!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

1980 AL baseball TV broadcast slides #5, Earl Weaver

I recently asked Twitter, are these cards?


Computer-driven graphics hadn't taken over sports coverage in the 1970s and 80s, so TV producers leaned on still photos when they needed an inset or single-player highlight. For example, did Weaver get tossed out once again arguing balls and strikes? (He's third all-time in ejections, with 94.) Here's a photo to flash on the screen while talking about it.

I took Earl's HOF visage from what appears to be the "team set," numbered contiguously for convenient storing and use during Baltimore broadcasts.


TV needed to cover multiple teams and sports, so Earl and his Orioles are just one of many, many slides out there. Not sure if it's possible to make a comprehensive list of what "full sets" would be, but the numbering will help someone who wants to take on that challenge.


I expect hunters of specific players are most likely to grab slides for their collections. Here's an interesting one, Pete Rose during his 1984 stint with the Expos (as of writing, it's $17 BIN).


Poll results: Twitter responses voted 10-to-1 that slides don't count as "cards," but commenters agreed they're interesting. Best wishes to those taking on the challenge!

Value: eBay sellers list single slides and team sets for $10-40 (here's an example), depending on the mix of players.

Fakes / reprints: Even for stars and HOFers, I doubt photo slides are valuable enough to spend the time and trouble faking.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

World Series 2016 Giveaway Winners!

Gonna sneak this post in before game 7 ends to avoid the rush. :-)

Remember this guy? I sure do.

WHO WON: My recent World Series giveaway wrapped up neatly. Run totals for game 4-5 (7-2 and 3-2) were 14 runs. Congrats to John Hogan, who got closest at 13!

Runners-up:

Madding (12)
gcrl (11)
arpsmith (10)
Richard (9)
Jon (8)
Admin (7)

Not gonna leave anyone out, so let's get team lots to all six runners-up. :-)

Everyone above, please email me your account name, choice of team lot, and mailing address to glidden dot matthew at gmail for prizes! As always, thanks for reading.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

World Series Game 4 and 5 Card Giveaway!

I will guess that it's been a year-plus since I gave cards away on this site, which is a year-plus too long. Let's turn this World Series of Baseball into some fabulous prizes.

WHAT YOU DO

There will be at least two more games, so predict the total runs scored by both team in games 4 & 5. For example, if you think they'll end up 6-3 and 4-2, your guess is 15 runs. Post your guess down there in the comments.

Run totals must be unique! If you duplicate someone else's guess, you'll need to back up and pick again.

Might be obvious, but guesses must be in before the start of game 4 and I'll contact the winners after game 5.

WHAT YOU GET


Closest guesser gets this truly assorted assortment!

  • Autographed cards of Dave Cash and Greg Luzinski
  • 1980 Baseball Immortals Series 1 of DiMaggio
  • 1976 SSPC Tony Oliva
  • Vintage Mariners cloth sticker
  • 2015 CWS/NYY ticket : Mark Teixeira set MLB record for switch-hitting HRs in one game
  • Choose a team, get a card lot for that team!
Next five closest
  • Choose a team, get a card lot for that team!


May you all be as lucky as this guy!


Sunday, September 25, 2016

1949 Bowman PCL Baseball #5, Xavier Rescigno

This Bowman PCL type card comes from the sort of set that tilts me to extravagance. It's been a white whale in the hunting, vanishing further into the distance each time I got close. Sometimes, one would appear at a show for $150. I'd skip it as "too pricy" and then see the same card appear on eBay for $300. I'd swear at myself, vow to "just buy it" when one appeared at a show, and then see nothing but slabbed copies for $500.

1949 Bowman PCL #5, Xavier Rescigno

This month, at last, a friendly dealer sold me this PCL #5 at a double-digit price, no haggling. It feels trite to say karma delivered at last, so let's stick with "patience is a virtue."

My new #5 looks about the same as "normal" 1949 Bowmans (set profile), so why all the high prices? On the surface, it is like other 1949 Bowmans, with a blasé, block-color design that only looks good on guys like Satchel Paige. But that's not the real PCL story.

1949 Bowman #224, Satchell (sic) Paige 

The real PCL story is rarity. Bowman packaged and sold their MLB packs all over the USA. Probably hundreds of thousands of MLB cards remain in the hobby, but I suspect just a few hundred cards exist for each PCL player.

My new #5 bears a great nickname, Xavier "Mr. X" Rescigno (career story). Kids in Pittsburgh might've remembered Mr. X as the day-in, day-out Pirates reliever during wartime, but his skills declined once peace returned and the rest of Xavier's career happened in the minors.


Pacific Coast League players appeared on cards as far back as the 1900-1920 tobacco era, but almost always for sale in or near PCL cities. Bowman's PCL set was a unicorn: an East Coast attempt to sell West Coast ballplayers.

Philadelphia-based Bowman published this one series of 36 cards, labeled them "PCL No. 1 - 36," and salted them into late-season packs of the "normal" 1949 baseball set. Furthermore, it's believed Bowman test-marketed them in just two cities: Philly itself and Portland, OR. That's a tiny window of opportunity for collectors, so it's fortunate that test marketing wasn't the only way this set survived.


Note the edges of my Rescigno are hand-cut, not factory cut, but it's otherwise the "right size." This means it was never in a factory-wrapped pack of cards. You can bet dollars to donuts that it came from a factory scrap sheet cut up by Meyer's junk shop on Filbert Street in Philly.

Meyer's paid garbage collectors to scavenge for potentially valuable factory discards like uncut baseball card sheets. Shop hands later scissored the sheets by hand into single cards and sold them to collectors. Kudos to Dave Hornish for finding a 1978 article from The Trader Speaks that tells the story.

PCL's hand-cut card story, via Lew Lipset and Net54

If you like similar tales from the dawn of postwar collecting, check the whole thread on Net54 for more. Also catch this thread with personal recollections on the factory-cut cards.

So how rare are PCL cards? A low grade Bowman MLB single might be $2-3, but low-grade PCL singles run $50+. If any of Bowman's 36 PCL players were considered superstars, they'd cost $1000+.

Hand-cut cards represent a hefty percentage of what's known in today's market, so finding cards from this set would be twice as hard without Meyer's efforts to make a buck back in the late 1940s.


Here's another look at the PCL card back. Today's collectors can also find the "baseball game and bank" under the name "Sealtest Dairy Products." The on-box game used white pins to track gameplay on the base paths shown on the panel below.

Hunt Auctions sold this game and bank for $100 in 2010

I suspect Bowman bought a bunch of baseball tchotchkes on the cheap and added them as on-card promos to sell more packs and track how many customers they had in various cities. An earlier MLB series showed this ring ad instead.


Here's that ring in the flesh.


If you do go hunting 1949 PCL cards, bring a lot of patience and/or a lot of money. If possible, bring both!

Value: This #5 cost me $90 and I'd happily pay that price again for a factory-cut version.

Fakes / reprints: Complete reprints exist for the PCL set, both as single cards and uncut sheets. It's likely fakes also exist due to the set's rarity. Bowman MLB and PCL sets use the same card stock and basic design, so you can pick up cheaper MLB cards to familiarize yourself with what real PCL cards will be like, should you want to seek out type cards with some piece of mind.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

2016 National Show Report, Aug 4 - 7, Atlantic City

This is my wrap-up for the 2016 National and what I brought back with me. It's not all in the binders yet, but some things take time.

Girlfriend: "That's kind of a lot of cards."

This National exceeded my somewhat low expectations for Atlantic City as a venue, providing both lots of vintage material to review and quite a few friends from OldBaseball.com to hang out with. Back in 2008, mired in a poor economy, AC's last National felt hollow. Suffering from reduced walk-up visitors and limited live events, its cathedral-like convention center often felt more like a dealer-to-dealer social club. This time, a wider spread of fans and sellers made the trip from all points of the map and kicked up the experience several notches. It's not quite as good as Chicago, which remains the easiest show for most of the hobby to reach, but enough about logistics, let's play ball.

"Get ready to walk." - Bill Freehan

Before the show, I wrote about my 5 goals for Atlantic City. Other than log over 12,000 steps per day, how'd I do?

1. Cut my 1954 Red Heart list in half

Take Billy Pierce off my list

So-so on this, hitting my list just three times. Red Hearts were findable on the floor, but rarely in low-grade. Red Heart's one of those sets whose in-hand attractiveness seems to keep show pricing higher than eBay. Still need eight for this one.

2. Finish upgrading my 1958 Topps set to VG


Thanks to a mix of friends and table finds, I knocked this set to one, #320 Whitey Ford, and plucked a VGEX off eBay for $10 soon after. Call this goal "achieved."

3. Fill out my 1930s non-sports sets


Limited luck finding anything for low grade prices ($2-3) except Indian Gum and a couple of Sky Birds, so hoping for better next year. You can always find non-sport dealers at the National, but I didn't locate any significant deals this time around.

4. 1963 Post Canadian pickups


Fortunately, a couple of trading friends passed along bilingual singles, because the show was a goose egg otherwise for affordable French singles. Zut alors.

5. Unexpected type set discovery: 1934 Sport Kings Varsity Football Game

Baseball comprises 99% of my type set, but I make some vintage exceptions and this is one I've been tracking for some time.


When you see Varsity Football cards in the case, this is the side they show. All the pennants make for an interesting frame and it says SPORT KINGS in big, friendly letters. You can forgive a dealer for not caring about showing the text-heavy "game piece" side, so I asked directly.

Me: "Can you check the number for this Varsity football card? I need a specific number."

Dealer: "Oh, there's a number?" (He picks up card, looks at the back, and holds it up without flipping it over.) "What number do you want it to be?"

Me: "I want it to be #5."

Dealer: "OK." (Long pause) "Well, it is #5. How did you do that?"

Me: "If I could do that every time, I would!"


So why was I excited about Sport Kings Varsity Football? Unlike the ample online love for Goudey's seminal 1933 baseball set, this piece of their history left few traces. Back in 1934, collectors picked up this flipping game from candy counters, but not from inside packs. It used the same kind of customer loyalty promo still evident at this year's National, where card makers offered walk-up, in-person bonuses to those who bought their packs on-site. Here's the guide Goudey included in their Sport Kings Gum deliveries.


In other words, 1930s shop owners gave Sport Kings customers these Varsity game cards and a game board to flip them on. (More details in my Varsity Football set post.) No known Football Score Charts survive today, so we don't know quite what they looked like, other than "probably something like a football field."

Other stuff!

In general, I spend Nationals shopping at tables of ungraded vintage. After two days walking the floor, I located 50 such dealers, which meant plenty to flip through and buy. About 300 new cards came home with me and I (finally) started work on the 1960, 1961, and 1963 Fleer sets, three significant parts of the hobby's competitive landscape. While 1960-61 stuck to retired players, their 1963 set challenged Topps directly by printing active Major Leaguers, including the not-in-Topps defending NL MVP.

1963 Fleer #43, Maury Wills

Many consider this Maury's Rookie Card, since Topps infamously didn't sign him to a $5 card contract in 1959. Their 1963 release saw Topps take Fleer to court, get an injunction on any remaining plans to publish cards of active players, and affirm an exclusive MLB license that persisted until 1981 and once again exists today.


Oh yeah, Topps hosted a custom card booth! Here's me goofing with OldBaseball.com friends Ken and Sal.

If you made the National, how'd it go? If you've never been, 2017-19 are Chicago, Cleveland, and Chicago, respectively...

Monday, August 1, 2016

Top 5 Goals at 2016 National Sports Collectors Convention

The 2016 National Sport Collectors Convention runs this week from Wednesday to Sunday and I'm looking forward to all its pomp and cardboard circumstance. I'm not necessarily looking forward to traveling to Atlantic City for the National, but you have to go where the cards are.


TRIVIA: Speaking of Atlantic City, no native has played a game in the bigs since Joe Cicero hit .158 in 1945. AC is overdue.

Spending four days at the National makes me card-hungry and I have a handful of goals in mind this time around.

1. Cut my 1954 Red Heart list in half


I'm 2/3 through this cherry vintage set and already have the big names, Mantle and Musial. It's a reasonable goal to find 5 from the remaining list of Fox, Pierce, Fondy, Gilliam, Kell, Lollar, Baumholtz, Erskine, Kiner, and Shoendienst.

2. Finish upgrading my 1958 Topps set

One of my past P-FR upgrades, this "Lipstick Larry" Berra

I need just 8 upgrades to finish taking this set from P-FR to G-VG. There are big names in the list: #19 (Giants team), 88 (Snider), 150 (Mantle), 168, 288 (Killebrew), 315, 320 Ford, 475. That's a challenging list on the surface, but 1958s aren't too tough in G-VG.

3. Fill out my Goudey non-sports sets


For all their success with 1933-34 baseball cards, Goudey spent just as much effort on an array of 1930s non-sports sets like Boy Scouts and Indian Gum. This week, I hope to find a variety of low-cost options, although you can imagine that high-quality work (like the scouting set) makes for higher-demand sets.

4. Encore, s'il vous plait



While my American-made 1962 Post baseball set's done, there's a lot of remaining wantlist for the bilingual Post Canadian set. Sometimes they take forever to ferret out and sometimes you meet a dealer from Toronto in the first row and he has a boxful. Hoping for the latter.

5. Unexpected type set discoveries


There's no way to predict exactly what #5s will appear, especially if they're from foreign sets or are uncatalogued. One big reason I go to Nationals is to expose myself to as much cardboard as possible in hopes of netting a white whale. A scan above shows all the types I found last year, three of which weren't even on the list before I spotted them. This year, who knows!

Anyone else making the trip to AC this week? If so, comment below or tweet me @Number5TypeCard and will be happy to meet up.