Monday, August 17, 2009

1886 Allen & Ginter N48 / N508 #5, Lady Baseball Players

It's already a fortnight since Cleveland's 2009 National Sports Collectors Convention, where I talked briefly with Page 2 writer Paul Lukas. Afterwards, he found and linked to this blog, which sent visitor counts through the roof for several days. All was normal Monday and then Tuesday jumped to 75 times that amount. (Baseball bloggers take note, on the outside chance that happens to you.)

Paul's show summary highlighted my best find, a 19th century #5 from Allen & Ginter tobacco. My card's the "Sub Rosa" version, but the set also appeared in packs of their "Dixie" and "Virginia Brights" cigarette brands. (A 2007 Robert Edwards auction listed it with both N48 and N508 catalog numbers; the "N" prefix means "19th century" in most cases.)

Card front (blank back)

The picture looks innocuous, but there's a lot going on. Let's break down the (very) old school details.
  • Produced by Allen and Ginter tobacco for their "Sub Rosa" cigarettes
  • Released between 1886 and 1888 (catalogs differ on exact year)
  • "Sub Rosa," "Dixie," and "Virginia Brights" brands marketed to women
  • Inserted one-per-pack
  • Mixes numbered and unnumbered cards, highest number seen is 7
  • Cards have blank backs
  • Pictures uniform-wearing models in studio poses
  • Some cards show multiple "players" (see first auction picture)
  • Titles describe baseball situation (#5 is "Double Him Up!")
  • Foil stamp in upper right with Sub Rosa logo (which shows poorly on this scan)

N48/N508 cards have a similar feel to their famous contemporary, Old Judge Cigarettes.

Old Judge used somewhat higher-quality studio photos and printing techniques, while today's Allen & Ginter card looks relatively muddy. These 19th century gallery links show many other examples.

BONUS CONTENT: check out Wikipedia's entry for the Latin phrase sub rosa. Is that what cigarette companies market to our 21st century governments? :-)

UPDATE: eBay Bidding recently concluded (at $1300!) for this larger cabinet card with a similar concept. It's also printed by the Allen & Ginter tobacco company, bears the title "Black Stocking Nine," and advertises their Virginia Brights cigarettes.

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