Monday, October 6, 2014

The Baseball Connection to 1920s British Cigarette Cards

We're not done looking at my incoming wave of British cigarette type cards, not by a long shot. This time, I'm including recent arrivals from Aaron, another friendly trader in OBC. All five of these #5s come from 1920s tree and flower-based sets.

These artsy sets feature their own hand-drawn horticultural charm, but there's no way I'll ignore the baseball connection from their "biggest" example: Ash.

Sorry, this ash.

Ash timber generated millions of bats over baseball's long history and it remains a popular option because ash's softer fibers break less often than fragile woods like maple. Louisville Slugger offers three finishes for their MLB Grade ash models, including this classic "natural gloss" look.

If you're a fan of our pastime's materials and technology, check out "Maple vs. Ash & More: Which Wood Type for Baseball Bats?" That article's more throught-provoking that the back of this #5, which reads like a Wikipedia page of italicized plant parts.

That linked article also calls out bamboo as a top modern material, one I'd never considered for that purpose. Bamboo's easier to grow and regrow, but must be layered with composite glue to reach the proper thickness, so it isn't the "single piece of wood" mandated by current MLB rules. Our league will need to unravel a ton of regulatory red tape before pro hitters can heft a stick made of bamboo or any other "new" material.

Checklists for today's five #5s, four from 50-card sets and one from a series of 25.

That 1923 Player set calls its #5 a "plant hypocrite," but I think each day is a struggle for existence, so hey, let's give those hard-living plants a break. It's a weed-eat-weed world out there.

Thanks for all the flora, Aaron! Readers can look forward to another round of exotic tobacco cards soon.

Value: British cigarette cards proved so popular that modern supply exceeds popular demand, so prices remain low. You can find complete sets for $25 and singles for $1.

Fakes / reprints: Many 1920s and 30s cigarette sets went through one or more reprints after 1990. Look for a "reprint" tag or glossy, thinner paper stock on the modern versions.


Aaron said...

Nice series of British tobacco card posts. Do these same companies make any sports- or baseball-specific sets? Are they as affordably obtainable?

Matthew Glidden said...

Thanks! Lots of sports sets to choose from, if you include runners, cricketers, footballers, rowers, etc. Only a few British sets include baseball, or at least named players.

For example, 1928 Major Drapkin Cigarettes has 4 anonymous baseball cards as part of a larger sporting world profile set.

1928 Major Drapkin tobacco at OldCardboard

I haven't seen many others, but it's possible to find single "baseball" (as a sport) cards in other UK sets and Babe Ruth appeared overseas in some 1920s and 1930s sets as our biggest star. Is that enough to start on?

Mark Hoyle said...

Any idea which day you are heading to the Shriners show. Shoot me an email at