|W502 card front in SGC holder|
Hall of Fame catcher Gabby Hartnett got #5 in this full-length warm-up shot. Even to a vintage collector's eye, these hazy photos on white stock resemble photocopies in real life. Unfortunately, set rarity also means reprints and fakes exist--it's hard to separate the real from the chaff and few collectors attempt to build complete, authentic sets without sticking to graded cards.
|Card back with game text|
Each of the involved food companies customized their card backs with promotional info, a brief player bio, or trade-in contests that encouraged kids to swap Babe Ruth or complete sets for ice cream. I profiled TCMA's reprint of one such set in 2010.
|1972 TCMA Tharp's Ice Cream reprint (back)|
It's not clear if kids kept their cards after getting free ice cream, but I suspect not; companies might've recirculated redeemed cards to save on further printing costs.
Here's a list of companies known to use this front design with varying backs, followed by catalog number. (Links go to their Old Cardboard set profiles, which include checklist and back variations.)
- 1927-28 York Caramel (E210, 3 types)
- 1928 Sweetman Candy (F50)
- 1928 Yeungling's Ice Cream (F50)
- 1928 Tharp's Ice Cream (F50)
- 1928 Harrington's Ice Cream (F50)
- 1928 Game Backs (W502)
The "Game Backs" include simple baseball situations like "ONE BAGGER" above. With enough cards, I assume kids could flip their way through 9 innings a la 1951 Topps Red Backs and Blue Backs or the 1978 Topps game.
It's hard for me (or collectors in general) to get excited about crude black-and-white sets when soon-to-follow 1930s Goudey cards look so great.
|1933 Goudey #202, Gabby Hartnett|
Yeah, that's better. A lot better.
UPDATE: Here's the rarely-seen Babe Ruth card, scarce thanks to the ice cream bar trade-in offer.
UPDATE #2: Here's a #5 back with Yuengling's ice cream offer, Babe Ruth for a bar or the whole set for a gallon.
Value: This graded #5 cost me $40 on eBay. Sellers want to believe singles are worth hundreds of dollars, but dozens of dollars is more likely. Bigger superstars legitimately run $100 and up, with Ruth cards netting $1000s.
Fakes / reprints: Reprints and fakes exist, so buy from reputable dealers if you're looking for a type card and aren't familiar with the sets themselves.