Friday, October 17, 2008

1948 R346 "Blue Tint" Baseball #5, John Lindell

This postwar oddball set probably came from fairway vending machines, several cards to a vertical strip. A certain number would be trimmed by the machine itself and eager collectors with scissors would handle the rest. Many card photos I've seen look like copies of studio shots taken for team publications. (John's picture even shows most of a facsimile autograph along its bottom edge.)

My #5 card back features the "mirror" John see below. It's likely a printing accident, where someone placed one card sheet directly onto another, still wet from the press.

Card back (transferred ink)

Surprisingly, several players from the set's short checklist still resonate with today's collectors. Lou Gehrig makes an unexpected posthumous appearance amid active luminaries like DiMaggio, Williams, Jackie Robinson, and Spahn. Despite the low-quality printing, some vendors charge a pretty penny for the big names. If you really want a Ted Williams card from his playin' days, stick with the normal (and beautiful) 1950s Topps cards and leave R348s to the rarity-obsessed.

Coincidental with the year of issue, the set numbers 48 cards, but includes a number of variations for picky collectors. Some show different teams, a few come in black-and-white instead of blue, and others lack a number on the front. Master set builders--and you know who you are--probably find the set tough going because few circulated in the first place, let alone any subgroups.

UPDATE: Johnny Mize's card features an odd STL logo I've never seen on another card. To double up the mystery, he last played for the Cardinals in 1941, several years before this set came out. Anyone have an idea where or when this picture came from?

Value: This #5 cost $6 on eBay, typical for low-grade cards. Superstars like Williams, Robinson, and DiMaggio run far more, even in low-grade.

Fakes / reprints: Haven't seen any, but they probably exist for the big names. Go for the lesser-known players if you want a type card to avoid that risk.

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