Wednesday, June 17, 2009

1925 Turf Cigarettes Sports of the World #5, Sprinting

Back in the 1910s and 20s, tobacco companies produced all manner of promotional cards to attract and retain customers. Most sets measured about 1.5" x 2.5" and went out one-per-pack, so frequent smokers amassed them quickly. The smaller size proved easier to collect than postcards and printing press advancements made multicolor presentation relatively inexpensive. This culminated in a card production boom that only slowed during World War I and picked up again soon after. (Countries of both sides of the Atlantic produced sets, but US issues retain much greater value overall.)

Card collecting today seems almost inseparable from commercial American sports, but not so in the early 20th century, when just about any subject could pop out of your Piedmont pack. This 1925 set from British "Turf Cigarettes" features "records" from a variety of worldwide activities. Our fifth card shows that most popular of track events, the sprint (or dash). Wooden stakes delineate lanes instead of chalk, but runner outfits differ little from what we see today: shirt, shorts, shoes, and sweat.

Card #50 from this set does feature American baseball and highlights the batting exploits of George Sisler. (Scan courtesy of Given an overseas origin, it's not surprising that the back text comes off stilted and awkward, even verging on Engrish.

"50. - BASEBALL. In America's great Ball-game, G. H. Sisler, of St. Louis (U.S.A.), put up the highest batting percentage known in the history of the American League, with his hit for 41,979. Mr. Sisler's name is to be inscribed on the $100,000 Base Ball Monument, which will be erected in Washington."

The figure "41,979" refers to Sisler's 1922 average of .420, without baseball's typical rounding to three digits and using a European-style comma instead of the American period. Did the planned D.C. "monument" eventually became Cooperstown's Hall of Fame? They certainly paid more than $100,000 for the one that stands there now.


MattR said...

You must have a nice "type" collection. This is an interesting way to present the collection.

Matthew Glidden said...

Thanks, it's been a pleasure to work my way through the various cards. ("Sprinting" is an odd duck, as 99% feature baseball players.)

Anonymous said...

I have an 1925 George Sisler card # 50 PDA/DNA NM 7 but I can't find it's value the card is very,very rare you can find Babe Ruth cards faster than Sisler# 50 turf I'll be buried with this card if you don't own turf #50 of George Sisler you don't have any cards in your collection

Anonymous said...

A 1925 turf cigarettes card #50 George Sisler one of the hardest cards to find in a nm7 psa. Theres olny 1graded higher at an NM/MT 8 the value is what a collector would want to pay I've got a nm7 #50 turf cigarettes GEORGE SISLER. The value at nm7 is between $150.00 and $200.00 so if you the collector can find this card buy it.

Anonymous said...

Hello I'm Walter I'm the Guy with the turf cigarettes. 1925 #50 George Sisler PDA NM 7! And yes I'm very proud of having the turf 1925 #50 in my collection. Out of all of my cards George is the olny one I'm hiding from alot of collectors like I've said I will be buried with this card so if you think its olny worth $150 or $200 your crazy! I wouldn't sell it for $500,000,000 so go buy your Turf 1925 #50 George Sisler at a lower grade. And have fun looking for him keep collections close to your heart

Anonymous said...

Yo Matt what's up I finally got hold of a turf # 50 George I've been looking for a good one for a while thank you and Walter for pointing this card out