Wednesday, November 11, 2009

1916 Sporting News M101-4 #5, Leon Ames

Venerable magazine The Sporting News (aka TSN) distributed a pair of 200-card sets in 1915 and 1916 as promos for their weekly publication. The 1.5" x 3" cards feature players from their photo catalog, printed on thick stock with heavy front gloss. Fortunately for modern collectors, this combo's also durable and a large number survived into the 21st century.

Most "competing" sets from that era used hand-tinted images or awkward drawings, making TSN's photography superior by default. The set suffers from time-lag, however, as Cardinal-in-a-Giants-uniform Leon "Red" Ames amply demonstrates. Let's track the time line!

  • Pre-1913: TSN takes photo for today's card of Ames as Giant
  • May 1913: Giants trade Ames to Reds
  • May 1913 - July 1915: Ames goes 28-40 for Reds
  • July 1915: Ames sold to Cardinals
  • Post-1915: TSN produces Ames card as "St. Louis"

While we call TSN's 1915 and 1916 issues "sets" and catalog them as 1916 M101-4 and 1915 M101-5, I have a feeling the magazine itself wasn't that organized.'s excellent combined checklist details the numerous differences, including swapped players, pose changes, and editorial corrections. (Their card back gallery is also impressive.) M101-4/5 seems like a rolling release, updated sporadically over at least 2 years, that we--90 years later--are reassembling like a puzzle, in search of a coherent image.

Value: My card's trimmed down to the photo and player name, so cost me only $15. Full cards with a complete, white border cost significantly more.

Fakes / reprints: People have reprinted both sets and singles for TSN and fakes can be hard to distinguish for modern collectors. Look for white stock that's slightly thinner than modern cards with a yellowy gloss on the front. (When in doubt, buy from dealers who specialize in pre-war.)


Steve Gierman said...

One of my favorite "teen" sets.

Matthew Glidden said...

Oh yeah, have you obtained any White Sox from the set? Would Comiskey would be the "biggest?"

Steve Gierman said...

I keep getting outbid for Joe Benz cards from this set, so I don't have any yet.

Cicotte, Felsch, Gandil, Joe Jackson and Buck Weaver are in the set. I would say that those would be bigger than Comiskey at this point. Especially the Shoeless Joe.

Matthew Glidden said...

Right! I find it easy to forget about Shoeless Joe, maybe because his cards prove so hard (expensive) to obtain. Good luck!