This simple, woodblock style reminds me of turn-of-the-century book engravings, with its childlike proportions and primary colorization. Like most such sets, kids bought them in vertical or horizontal strips from carnival vending machines for a penny or nickel.
Finding this full set scan made it easy to checklist.
- Training (boxing)
- Athlete (weight-lifting)
- Roller Skating (field hockey?)
- Ice Skating
Old Cardboard's W542 set profile calls out its similarity to the unnumbered 1919 W552 set, which Mayfair Novelty printed not on strips, but as a 3x4 sheet.
Mayfair's lower-right "first baseman" card is a knock-off of HOF Detroit manager Hughie Jennings' well-known half-leap, seen often in the coaches box during early century Tigers games.
Hughie appears in vintage sets from time-to-time and often in the same pose, even if transitioned back to "batting."
|1972 Laughlin Great Feats #23 (red)|
Jennings turned his EE-YAH! yell into a catchphrase, similar to the Marines "ooh-rah" of today, and you can read his biography under that same title.
Value: W542 singles cost $5 or less in low grade.
Fakes / reprints: Haven't seen any in the marketplace. I think they're too unknown (and unpopular) to be worth faking.