1938 Churchman’s Boxing Personalities

After my post last week about some Hollywood Exhibit cards I figured I should go back and post about an other set of cards I got last year. The 1938 Churchman’s Cigarettes Boxing Personalities set is another one I acquired after falling down the pre-war rabbit hole. I’m not a boxing guy but I also recognize how important it was to American pop culture over most of the last century.

For a set of 50 guys* who were active over 75 years ago in a sport I’ve never really followed, I recognized a lot of the names. Some of them have had movies made about them. Others are truly legends of pop culture which hearken back to an age when boxing in general and the heavyweight title in particular was of national interest.

*Actually 39 since the last 11 cards are of referees and promoters.

Having Jack Johnson and Jack Dempsey cards are very cool. My favorite card in the set though is the Joe Louis card because this is a 1938 set so it represents the year that Louis won and solidified his Heavyweight Championship.

I also really like that these are photos. While I love the artwork on a lot of pre-war cards, it’s always nice to be able to see real photographic images of these legends.

The backs of these are great in that they mention each fighter’s key matches and titles won. The Louis and Schmeling cards are especially noteworthy since they show that this set came out late enough in 1938 to mention the results of their fight in June.

While that fight isn’t what won Louis the title, the implications of it beyond boxing put this Louis card in a similar category as my Jesse Owens card as cards that are much much more than just sports. They don’t just involve race relations in the United States, they also touch on World War 2 and stick their thumb in the eye of Nazis and white supremacy.

Romance of the Heavens

It’s easy to get sucked into pre-war British tobacco cards. There are tons of sets out there and they’re all mostly affordable. As much as I call this a rabbit hole I’ve been very careful in only buying things that are both cheap and especially interesting to me. What this means though is while I try to avoid making “look what I bought” posts,* my pre-war purchases invariably break this rule because they’re so cool I want to post about them.

*Though I did just do one over on SABR.

The latest addition is a set of 1928 Will’s Cigarettes Romance of the Heavens. I don’t even know where I saw these first but I was floored by how beautiful the cards looked. This isn’t just chromolithography, it’s chromolithography at its best with deep saturated colors and fine details.

Just look at these. Most of the set is dominated by yellows and oranges set against the deep blue black skies. The content ranges from depicting celestial objects to explaining phenomena such as the tides and how the moon was formed.

I especially love the “Earth as Seen from Moon” card since it predates Earthrise by 40 years but still knows how awesome and fragile the blue marble view is. I also like how a zeppelin is used to provide some depth to the image. I grew up with the Goodyear Blimp but that was limited to sporting events and not something that was just seen overhead.

Where this set really sings though are in the horizontal cards. Over half the set is like this and the almost-panoramic proportions lend themselves to incredibly dramatic compositions.  Halley’s Comet* is the first card in the set and each successive image tries to better it.

*Which last appeared in 1910 so its presence here suggests that interest in the comet survived for a long time.

Jupiter from an unknown, imagined, moon’s surface is straight out of Star Wars. Aurora Borealis* is a splash of red that really pops compared to the cards around it. And the gaping black eclipsed sun gives a surprisingly good impression of what it’s like to see one live.

*At this time of year, at this time of day, in this part of the country, localized entirely within this set!?

The backs look like the rest of the Wills backs I have but I enjoy reading them since I can compare to what I’ve learned about these things. Unlike athletes and celebrities, every subject in the set is one that my kids are still being taught about and that’s pretty cool in and of itself too.

A surprise from @prewarcards

While my GiantsNOW has been my main customs card project, this past year has seen it morph into a GiantsTOTAL sort of thing* while my customs-making has expanded into new areas. It’s a fun exercise and I figured it would be especially fun to make cards for various Twitter friends. I don’t have a lot of trade bait so I figured that in addition to blogging, sending out a couple customs of favorite players would be a fun way to say thank you.

Anson over a @prewarcards is one such friend. He got sucked into two collecting black holes this past year. One is Dwight Gooden cards, the other are Ogden’s Cigarettes cards. I figured it would be fun to mash the two together so I created an Ogden’s Dwight Gooden card and sent it off in a plain white envelope.

*Just 70 cards of the guys who appeared for the team plus coaches.

I was not expecting my Cardsaver to be returned to me. I was especially not expecting it to be stuffed with a bunch of pre-war cards including a dozen real Ogdens. But it was and holy moly I can see how Anson got sucked into these. It’s not just that these are not my oldest cards—dating to 1901–1902 and passing up my Liebig set—there’s just something amazing about the variety. In this batch we’ve got sports, artists, actors, comedians, world leaders, and damaged warships.

Starting with the sports cards, we have a card of E.E.B. May who was a champion weight (shot) putter in England in 1901. Googling around pulls up some references to him competing in the hammer throw in  the US in 1902 and losing to a Harvard thrower. This card is especially interesting since it’s an action photo of a 1901 event.

Next we have a card of swimmer James Finney posing with all his medals. It’s noteworthy here that Finney’s accomplishments aren’t speed-based accomplishments but rather have to do with being able to swim the furthest underwater.

And finally we have an equestrian card of the winners of the Queens Prize at Kempton Park. Kempton Park is still a working racecourse but the website doesn’t mention the Queens Prize handicap. As for the jockey, it appears that his name is listed incorrectly on the front of the card.

The last card is of Vesta Tilley who has a wonderful Wikipedia writeup about her highly successful career as a male impersonator on stage. By the time this card was printed in 1901 she appears to have been a bona fide star for at least a decade. This may have been a pack hit back in the day.

Continuing on the performers theme, Sir Henry Irving was the first actor to be knighted and is noteworthy for being the inspiration for Count Dracula. This card came out right around the end of his management of the Lyceum Theatre and only a couple years before his death.

The card of Lily Brayton on the other hand captures her at the beginning of her career yet she’s already playing important roles like Viola in Twelfth Night.

R.G. Knowles doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry but appears to be a music hall comedian who billed himself as “The Peculiar American.” More intriguingly, googling around for “Richard George Knowles” turns up an 1896 book about American Baseball. At first I wasn’t sure if it was authored by the same guy but there’s a photo of him on page 65 and it looks awfully close to man in the Ogden’s card.

Rather than being just a musician card we’ve got a baseball writer. I’ve skimmed the book and enjoy a lot of it. The familiarity of explaining the appeal of the game (no draws, for thinking men) is great. I love the detailed instructions about how to lay out a baseball field through specifically knotted lengths of heavy cord. It’s fun to read rules written for an audience familiar with cricket.

The section on how to keep score is especially interesting since it’s not a method I’ve seen used before (also shortstop is position #5 and third base is #6) and there’s something about seeing different methods of keeping score that I particularly love.

Much of the rest of book is dedicated to describing the nature of baseball in England at the end of the 19th century. I did not skim this part except to note that the five teams appear to be vocational guilds and that one of the competitions was called the Music Hall Review Cup as well as an RG Knowles Trophy which went to the London champion.

Compared to Knowles, Gus Elen is merely a music hall performer. But he had a long career and made it into the age of sound in movies. As a result we can see him singing some his cockney songs on YouTube and really appreciate the way he performed.

Moving to politics. Mutsuhito now known as Emperor Meiji is probably the coolest card Anson sent me. The back text is a huge understatement for what happened to Japan during his era, although since this card predates the war with Russia the West wasn’t fully aware of what Japan had become yet either.

It’s cards like this that are why I collect. We know of him as Meiji and his era transformed almost everything about Japan.Having a card that dates from his era (even if it’s not a Japanese card) is a way of touching that history.

Baron Curzon eventually became the First Marquess Curzon of Kedleston. While he was Vicerory there was a massive famine in India. His “beautiful American” wife was Mary Leiter, daughter of one of the founders of Marshall Field’s who’s probably more relevant today as being part of the inspiration for Lady Grantham in Downton Abbey. Curzon’s hand meanwhile can still be seen on modern maps because the Curzon line he drew in 1919 to mark the border between Poland and the USSR is basically what Poland’s border with Belarus and Ukraine is today.

The HMS Salmon and HMS Dragon are two torpedo destroyers. Neither appears to have been destroyed by the results of what happened in the cards here and both made it to World War 1, during which they reached the end of their utility. It’s an interesting idea to have a set of cards depicting damaged vessels. It does make for more interesting stories but I also wonder if it’s also a bit of the tabloid “if it bleeds it leads” thing too.

All together this Ogdens batch is absolutely wonderful. I’ve seen cheap singles available but they’re kind of overwhelming. I love the variety and way each card is a potential rabbit hole into learning about the past.

General interest sets like this no longer exist. I don’t think it’s really even possible for them to exist now. We like our sets to be much more focused (something I completely understand) but seeing the potential for other directions the hobby could have gone 120 years ago is still enough to make me think about who would be in such a set today.

The dozen Ogdens would’ve been more than enough for a blogpost but they weren‘t the only cards in the envelope. Anson also included two 1932 Sanellas. These German cards are pretty big and printed on paper so thin it’s had to call them cards at all. But the size is otherwise correct and the artwork is all kinds of wonderful.

The shotputter is dynamically posed in the frame with a crisp and clear depiction of the Olympics badge on his uniform. The design of the badge also suggests USA to me. The crew image meanwhile is a nice tight crop and composition with the boat moving through the frame at an interesting angle and the oars balancing out the negative space perfectly.

The backs detail that both of these are from the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. The shotputter is indeed American and is in fact gold-medal-winner Leo Sexton who won with a throw of 16 meters. The crew are the Gold-Medal-winning German Coxed Fours team. Every Sanella checklist lists them as Der Bierer des Berliner but the five men are Hans Eller, Horst Hoeck, Walter Meyer, Joachim Spremberg, and coxswain Carlheinz Neumann.

As I noted in a previous post, one of my favorite things about these cards is the Fraktur Blackletter writing and the way that these cards remind me of the Antiqua–Fraktur dispute.

I also found two soccer cards. George Mutch is from the 1935 Wills Association Footballers set. I already wrote a little about him so the only thing I’ll add here is that as much as I like these old soccer sets it’s always especially nice when they feature a team like Manchester United which is still in the top flight.

The Willie Hall is from the 1939 Wills Association Footballers set and shows a lot more uniform detail. The popped collar is a great way of doing the portrait and it’s pretty neat to see the much fatter cockerel in the Spurs badge. That bird loses weight the longer it balances on the ball.

This card makes a nice pair with the Stanley Matthews card Anson sent me last year as well. Hall’s bio is also kind of interesting  and he seems to very much still be somewhat of a local hero as the teams in Newark, his home town, still compete for the Willie Hall Memorial Trophy.

Moving to the last two cards. The first is from the 1923 Sarony Origin of Games set and is a card that is literally of cards. Am I a sucker for stupid things like this? Yes I am.

Beyond that though this card is the only one of the batch which isn’t printed via halftones. The colors are super vibrant and the artwork takes advantage of this perfectly. Anson has shown a few other samples from this set. The Rounders card is pretty neat for all of us Baseball guys but I love the Football card since it looks like it’s showing some sort of Calcio Storico.

The last card in the envelope was a Don Bradman from the 1935 Gallaher Champions set. I have the 1934 set and it’s beautiful. I’ve been considering getting the 1935 one but aside from Bradman (and Stanford graduate Pete Desjardins) the set just didn’t look as nice to me.

Bradman though is a great card to have and this card shows him doing what he does best. His excellence at batting is so far better than any other cricketers’ that it looks like a mistake. He also makes a nice partner to the Larwood and Jardine cards who inspired me to pick up the 1934 set to begin with.

Anyway, wow. This was a hell of a surprise and a ton of fun to go through. Thanks Anson!

An NSCC mailing from Jason!

Jason went to The National and was nice enough to ask me if there was anything I wanted him to keep an eye out for. Between my budget and my increasingly-specific searchlists I find it more and more difficult to have people search for specific things now.

My Stanford project is down to only a couple dozen specific cards I’m looking for and those are spread out in year from 1955 to 2019 and cover a dozen different names. My Giants project meanwhile has coalesced around stars and high numbers for pre-1973 cards—not exactly the cheapest cards–and has random holes for everything 1994 to the present.

Neither of these as as simple as set building where you can just submit a list of numbers. However on the one set I’d’ve considered asking him to look for I’m down to eight cards—all Hall of Famers and big-name rookies. Meanwhile the rest of the sets I’m building are modern cards which I shouldn’t be buying any of.

So I declined and thanked Jason for the offer. But he said he’d keep an eye out for pre-70s Giants anyway. Then on National Baseball Card Day, after I returned from hitting two card shops with my kids* there was a bubble mailer waiting for me.

*Not enough for a post but we visited my childhood LCS South Bay Sportscards, got a blaster of Stadium Club to share, said hi to Ben/Cardboard Icons, then visited Steven’s Creek Sportscards and picked up a blaster of Big League. We each ended up with three packs of National Baseball Card Day cards and are, as a family, two cards short of a complete set. I love being able to spend a couple hours with the kids at a card shop and it’s great fun to watch the rip party afterwards too.

I was not prepared for what I found inside. Jason, as my committee co-chair likes to send me packages which reference previous posts on the blog. This 1933 Goudey** Lefty O’Doul is a direct reference to his most-recent post about players who appeared in the same set* as both Dodgers and Giants.

*Where “set” includes traded/update sets as part of the main set.

**Full disclosure, as a font/design/typesetting guy I frequently write Goudey as Goudy.

As cool as that is though what’s fantastic about this card is that it’s now the oldest Giants card* and 3rd-oldest baseball card** in my collection. Pushing back that oldest-card distinction is always a noteworthy event and I’m happy it’s a player like Lefty O’Doul who’s important for many different reasons.

*The previous title holder was Billy Jurges.

**The only older baaseball cards I have are a pair of 1917 Zeenuts so this O’Doul is also my oldest Major League card.

Yes he’s a New York Giant here. But he’s also a Bay Area sports legend who spent decades with the Seals and, besides Joe DiMaggio, is really the only Seal player people might be able to name. I’d love to acquire a Zeenut of him from when he was with the Seals and one of the jerseys I covet from Ebbets Field Flannels has his number on the back.

O’Doul is also noteworthy for his contributions to baseball in Japan and his legacy can still be seen there in the Yomiuri Giants team name. I haven’t gone deep into the Japanese card rabbit hole but I have a few—all of which are Giants. As a San Francisco fan I have to admit that the Yomiuri uniforms and colors appeal to me a lot even though I feel like picking them as my NPB team is too obvious.*

*I haven’t picked an NPB team. Not that I have to. But the Giants have an obvious appeal. As does any team based out of Fukuoka (Nishitetsu or Softbank) for family history reasons.

Anyway the O’Doul would have been more than enough to make this a great mailing but there were a couple other cards in the envelope. This one is not a post. Yet. But it should be since we’ve had plenty of discussions about players whose names match their teams. A card of Dave Philley with the Phillies? How fun is that.

It’s also nice to get a black background card from the 1959 set. There’s only one of these in the Giants team set (Billy Muffett) and it’s a bit of a shame since it’s a nice change of pace from all the other colors while still being easy to print.

Two inserts from the 1960s with a 1968 game card and a 1969 deckle edge which are both callbacks to the blog and represent some of the fun, more affordable cards of the 1960s. I love that both of these are mini-sized as well. Modern Heritage remakes of these have been full-size and there’s something about the small size which makes these even more enjoyable.

And the last card of the package is this 1988 Topps Big Candy Maldonado. This card calls back to my post about how Topps has handled Latino double last names. I love the 1988 Big design and its 1980s updating of the classic 1956 design.

The fronts look great—I don’t even mind that there’s no team name or position. And the backs are a nice update of the 1956 backs, updating the name to be the full name, adding full-color printing, all while keeping the cartoon focus and single line of stats. The only problem is that where the spot-color usage on the 1956 backs made the occasional all-same-skin-tone not stand out, on the 1988 backs the cartoons stand out as treating everyone as being white. Not a good look to my eyes.

Super cool Jason. Thanks!

John Player & Sons Film Stars

I don’t usually post “look what I got” posts but I have a feeling that my forays into pre-war issues will be the exception to this rule. There are tons of pre-war cards sets out there covering all kinds of subject matter. In many ways each checklist is a cool and interesting example of the kinds of things that were deemed collectable and represent a snapshot of popular culture of some sort at the time. Now though a lot of that stuff is only interesting for what it says about the past and doesn’t hold much of any current cultural interest.

Those sets though that do retain cultural interest though are super cool and hard to resist when I encounter them at a decent price. For example:

Yeah. I just got a set of John Player and Sons Player’s Cigarettes Film Stars. This is the 1938 Third Series. I love this design with the painted portraits and facsimile autographs.  And the checklist is wonderful with a bunch of 1930s film stars who capture that late-30s era when 3-strip Technicolor and the end of the depression gave us a number of films that still make up our visual literacy.

Being a 1938 set puts this release after Adventures of Robin Hood but before Gone with the Wind. The three Robin Hood stars—Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, and Basil Rathbone—are highlights of this set for me. Robin Hood is one of the first classic films I watched on the big screen at the Stanford Theatre when I was a kid and it’s one I’ve already made sure to show my kids as well.

The backs are also interesting. I enjoy seeing what studios people are with (and who’s without a studio). The bios are pretty bland but frequently include birth names vs Hollywood names. It’s also nice to see real birthdates and, for many of the actors, heights and weights.

Anyway supercool. Superfun to look through and read. I’m very happy to have these in my collection and will enjoy looking at them again and again.

Yo dawg I heard you like printing

Being sort of the resident print expert over at SABR Baseball Cards has resulted in me getting tagged into other print-related discussions online. It also meant that people like Jason have started to alert me about non-baseball-related sets that I should be interested in from a printing point of view.

The most-interesting of those sets was manufactured in 1906 by Liebig’s Extract of Meat Company. Liebig was a massive producer of trade cards around the turn of the 19th century. Most of these appear to have been printed through chromolithography. There were enough sets produced by Liebig and its ilk that in some parts of the world it appears that trading cards are still known as chromos.*

*Where trading cards are known as “barajitas” in Latin America, they’re known as “cromos” in Spain.

Liebig sets are wonderfully printed and fantastically varied in subject much in the same way that American and British Tobacco cards depict subject matter that runs the gamut from sports to geography to history to anthropology to science and nature. The key difference is that the Liebig cards are huge—much larger than the traditional baseball card size and close to four times the size of a tobacco card. As a result the artwork can be much more detailed and informative.

Jason had specifically informed me about a set which details the production of the cards themselves both through illustration and print progressives which demonstrate how the image looks as each ink is added. This set immediately became something I’d occasionally search for on ebay. It’s there but not cheap. While some pre-war cards are affordable, this did not look to be such a case. Jason however suggested he had a source where it was way cheaper and offered a trade where I’d help out with some fast graphic design expertise in exchange for him sending me the set. So I did. And he did.

The cards arrived last weekend and they’re wonderful. I received the French issue* which, while I can’t read French, I have enough experience doing tech support and QA on non-English computers that I can sort of muddle my way through a lot of romance and germanic languages now.

*There are Italian and German versions as well.

They’re in remarkably good shape for being the oldest cards in my collection* and the depth of the printing is indeed fantastic. Chromolithography looks so much different than modern offset printing. No halftone line screens although there are dot patterns in the different inks. Also there are 14 different inks used on these cards and the resulting images have much different tones than anything you’ll get with modern four-color offset printing.

*Though not the oldest cards in the household. That honor is held by a 1901 T-175 Heroes of the Spanish American War card of Albert Beveridge which is in my wife’s collection.

Anyway, because these cards themselves describe how they’re made I’ll take each card one by one.

Card number one is titled, “The artist composes the subject.” The back, rather than going into the detail of this step chooses to offer a brief description of lithography itself. It was invented in 1796 by Alois Senefelder. It’s useful in reproducing signs, designs, colors, etc. from an original artwork. Liebig works with many artists to create all kinds of chromos.

The front shows an artist whose work gives a hint at the diverse nature of Liebig’s subjects. The progressive though is what’s most interesting to me since it shows the first three inks (two colors and gold) that get printed.

I’m intrigued that the gold goes down first. Metallic inks are opaque so the order they get printed can make a big difference in how things look. In modern printing they usually go down first because they’re denser but sometimes they get thrown on last because they cover up everything else.*

*I always had to check with the pressman on how he wanted things to be trapped.

With this century-old printing, the ink order appears to generally be reversed. Where on modern multi-ink printing presses the dark colors go down first for density reasons, back when colors were printed one at a time you printed the lightest colors first so you could register them while you could still see them on the press sheet. Starting with the yellows and light tans produces a faint image but one where you can still distinguish the inks from each other.

Card two, “Extraction of the lithographic stones.” Lithography requires a specific kind of fine-grained limestone.* As this card specifies, the stones are from a Jurassic deposit found in Solnhofen, Bavaria** but can also be found in France in Le Vigan, Gard. They can also be found in America and England albeit of a lesser quality than the Solnhofen stone. The stones are cut to be 5 to 10 centimeters thick and ground flat. They’re colored yellow-grey and on occasion blue-grey—which indicates a stone that’s especially suited for printing fine details.

*Hence the “lith” portion of the name of the medium. This is literally writing with stones.

**Non-printing nerds may know of this deposit and quarry as the location where Archaeopteryx was discovered and as the single source of all Archaeopteryx fossils. And yes this is why one Archaeopteryx species’s scientific name is Archaeopteryx lithographica.

The image on the front presumably shows a picture of the Solnhofen quarry and shows how the limestone in the quarry guides the thickness of the slabs that get cut. To print these cards you’d need fourteen different slabs.

The progressive has added light cyan and a darker tan. Already Mr Liebig’s face is starting to look real with the blue providing a decent amount of shadow detail. The gold is no longer showing up on the list but we’re at five inks used now.

Card three, “Lithographic reproduction,” contains a bunch of details about how lithography actually works. A reversed image has to be drawn using special oils on a polished stone. With colored subjects, the design has to be drawn on multiple stones, one stone for each color although when inks overlap even more colors can be produced. Nothing I can make sense of as for how the different color components are determined though.

This description finally starts to get into the actual process of how lithography actually works. At it’s heart it’s just the oil and water principle. The design gets drawn on the stone in oil or grease. The stone is wetted. Water doesn’t stick to the design. The stone is then inked. Ink is oil based, sticks to the design, but doesn’t stick to the water. Then the paper is pressed against the stone and takes the ink.

The image shows a room with multiple artisans each drawing on a lithographic stone. Note that everyone’s working on a large-scale lithograph rather than something card sized.

The progressive meanwhile has added a brown and a light magenta ink, taking our total to 7 inks used and giving Mr. Liebig a little flush in his cheeks.

Card 4, “Printing proofs.” After the stones have the grease drawing on them they’re cleaned with Nitric Acid.* This cleaning allows the non-oily parts of the stone to accept and hold water so only the oily parts attract the ink. Before the final printing, progressive color proofs (which will look very much like the progressive portraits of Mr. Liebig) are run beginning witt the lightest colors and ending with the darkest.

*Diluted since limestone aka Calcium Carbonate and concentrated acid will react.

It’s nice to see my observation about the progressive proofs being explicitly mentioned. We’ve now got a pair of darker cyan and magenta inks added to the mix as well.

And the image shows a number of printers all working single sheet hand presses that squeeze the paper against the stone in order to produce the print. This is a pretty labor-intensive process where the wetting, inking and paper pressing is all done by hand.

Card 5, “Final printing.” When the proofs are sufficiently close to the original artwork, the rotary pressman can follow them. The original artwork is transferred multiple times to a new, larger stone which undergoes the same polishing, drawing, and acid wash as before only this time it’s wetted, inked, and printed via automated cylinders.

I wish this described how the images are transferred from the small stones to be printed multiple times on the large ones. It’s very interesting however to see a depiction of the automatic press. I’ve only seen lithography done as art prints now so hand-presses are the only surviving production method.

The automatic press shows why offset printing is a commercially more viable process. Instead of a stone which has to be inked by rollers moving across the entire surface, modern offset lithography uses metal plates that have the same oil/water surface but can also be wrapped around a cylinder. The water can get applied via rollers. Same with the ink. A rubber blanket cylinder transfers* the ink from the plate to the paper (also on a cylinder) and, since it’s softer than stone allows for a more-even print while also protecting the stone image from being degraded by paper.

*Hence the term “offset” being used since there’s no longer a direct contact between the plate and the paper.

The printing industry just needed photography to catch up to its needs. We used photography to convert images to halftone screens. We used it to expose plates. And we used to create multiples of a single piece of artwork.

Also I can’t help but point out that a woman makes her first appearance on the cards as the press operator.

Meanwhile Mr Liebig now features dark brown and dark cyan inks and is looking nearly human in his 10 inks plus gold frame.

Card 6, “Cutting and packing.” The sheets are cut mechanically. They’re then counted and packaged for shipping. The rest of the text describes the progressive proofs in twelve colors plus gold and calls out the new colors that result in the completed image.

The bindery is a basic hand bindery with a mechanical paper cutter and lots of desk space for people to count and sort and package everything. This is still a pretty common thing. While super-advanced automated systems do exist, for small jobs doing it all by hand is the way to go. Cutters are safer and counting is usually done by weighing the finished product but otherwise yeah, lots of hand work at this point.

Also, while the progressives specific 12 colors plus gold, the last two inks added on the list are dark magenta and medium grey. Black never gets mentioned despite being clearly in the image not only as his name plate but also the final detail work in Mr. Liebig’s irises.

This isn’t an oversight but instead reflects how Black doesn’t show up much in the images. Black objects usually get there because of mixing the other inks. You only need to generate the black component to save ink or prevent too much getting put on the paper. Black typically only shows up on it’s own Key* plate and is used for text and border colors and so.

*Why it’s assigned K in the CMYK model.

So yeah. Where modern printing would print this in five inks (CMYK plus metallic gold) in 1906 this used fourteen. Lots more work. Lots more effort. All for something that was being given away. Still, super duper cool and I love having these in my collection both as a explanation of how chromolithography works and as a demonstration of what they actually look like. Thanks Jason!

30-day Baseball Card Challenge v2

I’ve been looking back on my 2018 post which reflected the beginning of my reintegration into the hobby and recognizing how much my collection and interests have shifted and grown in the past year. So rather than doing a belated New Year’s Resolutions post, it’s time to revisit Tony’s 30-day baseball card challenge.

I’m not sure if this will become a repeating post. It really depends on how much my answers change year-to-year. And since some of Tony’s prompts do not allow for change there may be a point where doing this again no longer works anyway. but for now I think I have new and improved answers for almost everything.

1. A card from the current year with a photo you like


2018 Topps Big League Ichiro

As with last year’s post, “current year” is going to be the previous year. I just really like this card with the photo of Ichiro’s back and all the fans. It’s a wonderful way to cap his career (yes I know he’s not officially officially retired) and shows how adored he is by the fans. He’s a great player who’s truly distinct in the game and we’re all that much richer for his having come to the US.

2. A card with more than one player on it


1941 Double Play Harry Gumbert / Burgess Whitehead

One of my collecting goals for 2019 is to go older and focus on pre-Topps-monopoly cards. I’m also trying to acquire cards from sets that I have no samples of. This 1941 Double Play card is one such example. It’s a fun set and I love how there are two different orientations—horizontal for portraits, vertical for action. I got my first examples early this year and they’ve made me very happy.

3. A card from the first set you tried to complete


1986 Topps Bob Brenly

I started collecting cards in 1987 so while I didn’t explicitly purchase packs of 1986 Topps, I ended up accumulating a lot of it. I found a couple hundred of them at my parents’ house and decided hat I should try and complete the set the “hard” way now. It’s been fun. It hits a lot of feelings as I look at the cards and reminds me of the great unknown and potential collecting possibilities that opened up to me back when I was nine years old. Collecting the current year was safe. Collecting last year was the first step toward collecting the year before that, and the year before that…

4. A rookie card of one of your favorite players

Matt Williams 1988 Topps
1988 Topps Matt Williams

Not going to get into the “what’s a Rookie Card” discussion this year. Where picking Will Clark last year was easy I’ve found it hard to pick someone else this year. I’ve found favorite in this case to have to be a Giant who I watched when I was little and whose career tailed off about the same time my interest in the game tailed off in the mid-2000s. There aren’t many guys who fit this profile but Matt Williams does.

It was fun to see him go from that pinch-hitting late-game Shortstop to the slugging starting Third Baseman. It was fun to watch him do his Babe Ruth impersonation on Turn Back the Clock day. And it was fun to watch him just field his position and show he was more than a slugger.

5. A certified autograph card of one of my favorite players.


1996 Leaf Signatures Mike Aldrete

Mike Aldrete will always be one of my favorite players because he was one of my first in-person autographs. That I don’t have many certified autograph cards makes this an easy choice for this slot. I like this one because it fills a hole and is the only card representing his time with the Yankees.

6. A card you spent more than $10 to get


1953 Topps Monte Irvin

A bargain bin find but a beaut of a card of a Giants Hall of Famer. This is also the oldest card of a Hall of Famer that I own. It’s a bit embarrassing that it took the Giants so long to retire his number but he totally deserves the honor for his career, his status as one of the first Black baseball players to play for the franchise, and his presence in mentoring Willie Mays.

7. A card you bought in person and the story behind it.


1950 Bowman Mario Pieretti

Sometimes you just can’t say no. While the first night game occurred in 1935, cards depicting nighttime baseball are pretty uncommon until the 1970s—and even there frequently limited to the post-season subsets. Which is a shame because the cards showing the light standards are all kind of wonderful.

This Pieretti is the oldest night card baseball Twitter has found so far. I was unaware of this when I bought it. I was just stuck by the artwork and how nice the light standards looked. 1950 Bowman is one of my favorite sets and yeah, I couldn’t say no even though it doesn’t “fit” anywhere in my collection.

8. A card that reminds you of a family member


2017 Topps Update Austin Slater

My son gave me this card for Christmas a couple years ago. He’d pulled it from a pack and was excited to get a Giant. I told him it was also a Stanford guy. Since he already knows what I collect he took it upon himself to wrap it up nicely in an envelope and slip it into my stocking. So yes whenever I see it I’ll remember that a little boy raided his collection to find a card he knew his father would like.

9. One of your favorite cards from the 1950s


1955 Bowman Roger Bowman

The only reason I own this is because it’s a Bowman card featuring a player named Bowman. It’s a ridiculously stupid reason to buy a card (also why I was fine with it being so beat up). But I’ve yet to run into a collector who isn’t amused by this.

10. One of your favorite cards from the 1960s

Frank Robinson 1961 Topps
1961 Topps Frank Robinson All Star

I mentioned this card previously but for a long time this was my most-favorite non-Giants card. I’m ashamed to say that it was because it was also the highest book value card I owned back then but yeah that was part of it. But it was also a vintage card of a Hall of Famer in that super-cool All Star design. Plus that Reds uniform is fantastic.

11. One of your favorite cards from the 1970s


1974 Topps Dave Kingman

This is straight up modern art. Crazy catadioptric bokeh. High-contrast light and printing. I want to say that they just don’t make cards like this anymore but they didn’t make them like this back then either.

12. One of your favorite cards from the 1980s


1983 Fleer Duane Kuiper

Fleer has a number of wonderfully goofy photos in the 1980s but Kuip with the broken bat is the only Giants card of the bunch. It never fails to make me smile

13. One of your favorite cards from the 1990s

 

1999 Bowman International Ntema Ndungidi

I’ve joked that I could write 2000 words about this card. I won’t but I’ll briefly touch on everything I love about it. I love that it’s a non-English language parallel. I love that it appears to be in Lingala. I love that the height and weight are not only in metric but are written using a comma as the decimal operator. I love that it represents a country that no longer exists—by 1999 Zaire was no longer a country and was instead the Republic of Congo.

And I’ve come to be fascinated by how Topps manufactures Chrome cards. I don’t like Chrome as a product but the process of printing the image on the backside of the plastic* and then fusing it to the foil-faced cardstock was kind of a wonderful thing to realize.

*Chrome printing plate cards are reversed image.

14. One of your favorite cards from the 2000s


2009 O Pee Chee Randy Johnson

I had hard time picking anything from this decade but having had a lot more experience in this area over the past year I’ve found myself increasingly appreciative of the 2009 O Pee Chee release and how it’s one of the few releases in the past tow decades that feels like how cards used to feel without being an explicit rip-off of something else.

We’ve had Fleer Tradition and Topps Heritage and Upper Deck Vintage all trying to capitalize on nostalgia by trotting out old designs, or cards inspired by old designs* but the underlying message is that current-year cards have to look different. Glossy. Foil-stamped. Action-packed. Etc.

*And I get it. I do the exact same thing when I’m making customs.

2009 O Pee Chee is none of those. It’s an original design that feels like it could be from any year back to 1957. I selected the Randy Johnson because his cameo with the Giants is sufficiently weird. But I also like the wide angle photo and sever foreshortening effect.

15. One of your favorite cards from the 2010s


2017 Allen & Ginter Krazy George Mini

I really don’t like Ginter. It just feels so effortful but pleased with itself for being so damn clever. The photo processing bugs me. The gimmicks bug me. The price bugs me. I refuse to buy it and reward Topps for this kind of thing.

And yet I’m beginning to see the appeal. It’s a horrible baseball card set. It’s a fascinating set for all the other stuff and playing with the concept of who deserves to be on a trading card and what other kinds of people should be recognized. The political and famous ones are often interesting but as a Bay Area native I was particularly pleased to see Krazy George make an appearance a couple years ago.

I grew up with this guy and his drum and his jorts. I sort of rolled my eyes when he was at Candlestick* but seeing him in the sun at The Coliseum or San José Muni or Spartan Stadium? Perfect.

*His shtick didn’t quite fit the Candlestick gestalt.

This card reminds me of my youth and a simpler age of going to ball games. The mini makes it just a little more fun. I’m happy Topps threw a bone to the West Coast with this. Now if only they could make a Ginter card of Emperor Norton…

16. A card of a player who you appreciate but don’t like


1990 Topps Paul O’Neill

You know that one player who always killed your team? That was Paul O’Neill for the Giants when I was a kid. He was always the guy with the clutch hit right when the pitcher was about to work out of a jam. He was the one who broke up the only no-hitter I’ve come close to seeing live. He was always there tormenting the Giants.

My family called him “Oh, him again” because it was always him. Again and again and again.

17. A card from the first set you put together hand collated

Still blank. Still working on 1978 Topps, 1986 Topps, 1990 Fleer, 1990 Upper Deck, and 1991 Donruss. One of them should be finished this year though.

18. A card of a player who managed your favorite team


1986 Topps Dusty Baker

May as well pick up with the manager who succeeded Roger Craig. I got this signed in Spring Training 1993 when he was brand new. Have to say that even though the ending wasn’t so great I was mostly happy with the team while he was in charge.

19. A favorite card from a country other than the United States


1976 Calbee Sadaharu Oh

It feels like a bit of a cop out to go with another Oh card but after having these Calbees for a year I’ve found I like them even more than I did when I got them. There’s something just satisfying about these as objects with the thick card stock and the slightly smaller size. Plus the photography is so different from what Topps was doing at the time.

This Oh, with its night game, low angle view from directly behind the plate, and perfectly timed photo which captures Oh’s distinctive leg kick is a winner all around.

20. Your favorite parallel card based on the parallel


1975 Topps Mini Hank Aaron

1975 Minis will always be fun. For some reason I had three of these—including this Aaron—when I was a kid but only the solitary Tito Fuentes from the regular base cards. Because I had this stored with my oddballs I didn’t remember I had a vintage Hank Aaron until I revisited my collection at my parents’ house.

I admit to not understanding the current yearly release of mini parallels but the 1975 ones are special. Something about how they were the only mini cards until Topps started releasing the mini leaders in 1986 made them distinct.

21. A card of a rookie you thought you were “investing” in


1991 Mike Mussina

I sort of covered this previously. This was the only rookie autograph that didn’t bust within a year of me acquiring it and I’m still riding that high of him getting into Cooperstown.

22. A card of a common player that always seemed to elude you


2002 Topps Traded Rick Helling

Not a player who I cant find but a card that continues to elude me. I’ve found it in Chrome, Gold, and Refracter versions but for some reason the base card is impossible to find except when it costs twice as much as any of the others. And yeah I refuse to spend that much on a base card.

23. A favorite oddball card from the 1950s


1952 Mothers Cookies Bill Boemler

I’m an admitted Mothers Cookies fanatic but I never expected to get any from its first sets in the early 1950s. However I found one for a good price recently and am very happy to have this Bill Boemler in my collection. That it’s a San Francisco Seals card is especially nice.

24. A favorite oddball card from the 1960s


1967 Dexter Press Willie Mays

Another card I never expected to own. The Giants Dexters are tough to find ungraded—let alone affordable, let alone Mays—but sometimes you get lucky. Their reputation is fully deserved and the printing is such that they look much better in person than they do in any scans or web images.

25. A favorite oddball card from the 1970s


1970 Kellogg’s Willie McCovey

I love lenticular cards. This McCovey from the first year of Kellogg’s 3D issues was in a surprise mailday of many cool items but stood head and shoulders above them all. Like the Dexter, this card just can’t scan well. Not only does the 3D not translate, the crispness of the portrait is lost too. These 3Ds look so much better in person and are bizarrely sharp compared to the usual standard of late-69s, early-70s printing and registration.

26. A favorite oddball card from the 1980s


1986 Mothers Cookies Greg Minton

If Greg Minton’s 1978 card is famous for its awful airbrushing and colorization, this 1986 Mothers deserves to be as well known for its goofball pose.

27. A favorite oddball card from 1990 or later


1993 Fleer Fruit of the Loom Will Clark

🎶Cards were everywhere, man
Cards were everywhere, man
With food and gas I swear, man
Even in underwear, man🎶

I don’t exactly like this card. I do however love the idea that it came with underwear. If that’s not the definitive example of the nature of the hobby in the early 1990s and how cards were literally everywhere, I don’t know what is.

Also, as with the Fantastic Sams discs, I kind of wonder about the viability of making this a 66-card set. Yes I know that they came in packs of six but that’s still a best-case scenario of purchasing 11 packages of underwear for a set and that’s neither an impulse purchase nor something a kid’s going to save his allowance for.

28. A favorite relic/manufactured relic card


2016 Diamond Kings Mel Ott

I’m still not a fan of relics or the idea of cutting up old equipment to insert them in one-inch squares into cards. I do however find them fascinating in terms of just how they’re made. This Ott is probably the best example I have. It’s not just a relic but a couple different kinds of paper and printing methods.

29. A favorite card from before 1950. Whether you own it or not


1934–36 National Chicle Diamond Stars R327 Carl Hubbell

I wish I owned this. One of these day I’d love to try and get vintage cards of all the Giants retired numbers. I have the most-recent seven of the twelve players. Hubbell (and Ott) are the next most-recent. I don’t have any specific cards in mind for which ones I like but this Hubbell is one I’ve long admired for both the quality of the portrait as well as the wonderful colors and detail in the background.

30. Your favorite card in your collection

Del Baker 1917 Zee Nut
1917 Zeenut Del Baker

Unchanged from last year. My oldest baseball card. My oldest San Francisco card. And one that reminds me of my Grandmothers’ house.

FINAL COUNTS

For the sake of keeping score and breaking things up in various ways.

14: Giants
13: Topps
12: San Francisco
7: Food
5: Autographs, New York, Retired Numbers, 1980s, 1990s
4: Stanford, 1950s, 1970s, 2010s
3: Bowman
2: Mothers Cookies, Orioles, Reds, 1960s, 2000s

Rabbit hole

This thing where pre-war cards get surprisingly affordable when you move away from the heavy hitters of baseball and boxing is dangerous territory. I saw someone post a card on Twitter and did a quick ebay search to see how expensive it was. I was not prepared to find out how low the price was and couldn’t resist plumping for it (as well as some others because of combined shipping reasons).

Oh, and the low price? It was for the complete sets not the individual cards. This confirms that the price I paid for the Kings and Queens of England cards was indeed too high (I still got my money’s worth so I’m not complaining) but more excitingly (and dangerously) opens up world of cards to me that I hadn’t ever considered before.

Am I going off the pre-war deep end? No. But certain sporting figures do hold my interest and of course I’ll get my head turned by them if the price is right.

The card which spurred my interest was the Jesse Owens card from the 1939 Churchman’s Kings of Speed set. Jesse Owens of course is Jesse Owens but the set itself is pretty cool too. It’s a snapshot of all of our speed records at the time—from airplanes to boats to cars to bikes to running to rowing to cycling. Since speed correlates to both our perception of the world and our understanding of human ability it’s really neat to see everything collected together.

This wide-ranging checklist also means that there’s a card of a young Howard Hughes also in this set. It’s great to have an Owens card but it’s also a lot of fun to have a Hughes.

Productionwise there is some interesting stuff going on. The cards look to be simple black and white photos but there’s some extra processing where the backgrounds are screened back a little so as to give the subjects a bit of pop. Also some of the cards, such as the Owens, look to be action photos—semi-advanced stuff for this period in time.

The backs of the set make for good reading with lots of biographical information. I appreciate that Hughes’s card includes his vast inheritance and Hollywood productions. It’s nice to see Birabongse Bhanudej/Prince Bira of Siam have a card which predates his becoming the first Asian driver in Formula One in the 1950s. I wasn’t aware of motor-paced-racing until I read about Léon Vanderstuyft and now that I know I’m just glad he’s wearing a bike helmet. I’m old enough to remember when cyclists didn’t wear helmets (and died in crashes) so seeing a helmet in a photo from the 1930s definitely caught my eye.

Jesse Owens’s back meanwhile is interesting because of how it distinguishes between his amateur racing where he holds numerous world records and his professional career where he races against animals and appears in Hollywood films. I’ve come to side-eye the idea that sports were better when only amateurs could compete but it’s also bizarre for me to see what being a professional athlete used to involve too.

Another set I got was the 1934 Gallaher Champions set. This one has wonderful colorful art in all kinds of action poses. The thin keyline around the players makes everything graphically pop and many of the cards just look fantastic.

The set covers a wide range of sports including dog and horse racing but I got it for the cricket cards—in particular the Jardine and Larwood cards. Those two cards are especially nice but I’m actually more intrigued by Bodyline and the controversy of a technically legal but clearly dangerous tactic that caused the rules to be changed and apparently for many people counts as one of the most important events in the sport.

It’s interesting to me that Jardine’s card refers to “bodyline” while Larwood’s says “fast leg” since this set appears to be celebrating the Ashes victory (there are a number of other cricketers in the checklist).

I also enjoy having a proper Arsenal card which shows off those classic white-sleeved kits on the front and mentions Alex James’s signing bonus on the back. Joyce Cooper meanwhile is one of two women in the checklist and appears to have been England’s best swimmer for her time but suffered some bad luck in the Olympics.

The last set I got was a set of 1958 Kane International Footballers. This set predates the 1958 World Cup* but includes a number of stars from the 1954 World Cup such as Puskás and Fritz Walter. I know Puskás is a Real Madrid legend but I’ve always had a soft spot for him and Hungary and wish the Magical Magyars had won one World Cup to reflect their excellence in the sport and the way they helped drag it into the modern age with some of the first glimmers of Total Football.

*Probably a good thing since I’d expect Pelé and Garrincha cards to command higher prices.

Most of the photos in this set are cropped super tightly. It’s a bit of an odd choice but works pretty well. It also intrigues me that sports cards in England kept the tobacco size format for decades where cards in the US were all kinds of different sizes until 1957 when Topps standardized the form.

The backs of these cards kind of crack me up with their limited bios and emphasis on how the player has done against England. I do enjoy having a second Stanley Matthews card to sort of bookend his career. Paco Gento is another Real Madrid legend who’s won more European Cup championships that anyone else but is also one of Spain’s all-time great players. And Jackie Blanchflower’s card shows that this set also predates the Munich Air Disaster which not only ended his career but nearly killed him.

Now I need to get more pages to file these all away. They’re currently in the British-style 10-pocket pages but I do not have the albums for those nor do I like how they‘re nowhere near as dense as American 20-pocket pages. I’m looking forward to getting them all together where I can appreciate them 20 cards at a time. They deserve to be looked at and read and I’ve been really enjoying getting to know them so far.

Impulse Buy

I love shopping in used bookstores. This is especially dangerous when traveling since used bookstore purchases have a tendency to be both bulky and heavy.* My most-recent trip to California was no exception to this. At one bookstore I found a copy of Charles Conlon photographs. I’d had the libary’s copy of that book on my shelf for months while I worked on a post for SABR and was very happy to have my own. But it’s another, much smaller purchase that needs blogging.

*Yes I’ve been mistaken for an employee before as I walked around carrying a load of books.

At one bookstore there was a small box of trading cards on the table of photography books. Pre-war tobacco cards actually. Cars, airplanes, soldiers, dogs, fish, etc. from Britain. Priced at 10 for $6. Probably slightly high for what they are. Probably could’ve gotten a deal if I asked to buy all of them. I just wanted to flip through and see if there was $6 worth that caught my eye.

There was.

One of the collections was Kings and Queens of England. It had both the most interesting art as well as a hook beyond being just old trading cards.

The way the card collecting hobby ties into history is probably what I like most about it. Not just the history of collecting but also the way that the subjects of the cards themselves have histories and stories attached to them. Yes I know that the fish and dogs and cars can also have this but for me there’s always going to be something extra-appealling about people.

This set is from 1935 and was put out by Player’s Cigarettes (Trading Card Database has a checklist). I grabbed the selection of Kings that were at the store. A shame that none of the kings from Richard II to Henry VII were available since as a Shakespeare fan those would be fun to have. But the nature of Kings of England is that many of them have pop-culture touchstones.

As an American, Richard I (Robin Hood! though I wish John were also there) and Charles I (Monty Python!) both bring smiles to my face for goofy reasons.

Unfortunately (or fortunately for Charles I) there are no height and weight stats on the backs of these. Instead, underneath the informative blurb about how the backs of these are adhesive, there’s a short biographical paragraph.

The biographies are wonderful and seem to be intentionally negative in pointing out the failings of each King. I love it. I’ve become used to reading sports biographies and the propaganda that portrays all US Presidents as being good people. I want more snark on my card backs.

Am I chasing this set now? No. Would I look in the box again next time I’m in the store? Absolutely.

Pre-war cards from @prewarcards

One of my favorite Baseball Card Twitter people is Anson Whaley (@prewarcards). He specializes in pre-war* sports cards so his blog and twitter feed contains almost no overlap with mine; aside from my two Zeenuts, I have no pre-war cards. Yet I feel their call sirening away at me. At some level I suspect every collector of baseball cards does. It’s not just an age thing where old cards are always interesting, there’s something to getting in touch with the roots of the hobby which is deeply appealing.

*Generally defined as anything predating US involvement in World War 2.

I think every card collector is an amateur history geek. Cards connect you to over a century of collecting and the evolution of the hobby is something that you just eventually learn about. My sons, who have only just caught the collecting bug, already know about T206 and Honus Wagner. It’s just something that comes up when you get into the hobby.

Anyway, while I’m spending my time as a cheapskate collector who prefers getting cards via trade or for under a quarter on Sportlots, I’m also educating myself on pre-war issues and getting a sense of what kind of things I might one, day consider spending some money on. And I’m also educating myself on how I could do that responsibly as well as learning about what kinds of things to look for to make sure I don’t get fooled by any fakery.*

*Being a cheapskate collector does mean that my unwillingness to spend even medium money on any cards protects me from getting ripped off.

Anson’s website is one of my go-to locations for this kind of information. Plus he’s very friendly and helpful on twitter as well with regard to posting things, answering questions about them, and even discussing the best ways of storing them.

In the beginning of this month he tweeted out some photos of his set of 1928–29 John Player and Sons Footballers. It’s a beautiful set of cards. As a soccer fan there’s something about the early days of the game where everything is recognizable yet so so different. Despite the game having evolved tremendously from those days, the imagery from those decades is immensely powerful. Any team which can trace its history to those years makes damn sure sustain that visual connection to the past.

There’s also something extra special about seeing the early British uniforms since they’re the model that the rest of the world followed.* So in addition to the weight of history there’s a sense of seeing the source of the game in these old cigarette cards.

*Most famously perhaps with the connection Juventus has to Notts County.

I sent a very enthusiastic reply to Anson’s tweet observing how great the cards were and after we had had a conversation about pre-war soccer cards in general and how to find other examples.* No I’m not planning on getting into soccer cards. But you’re damn right I was curious.

*As a Barcelona fan, I was especially curious about whether there were old cards from Spain or Catalunya. Short answer, there most certainly are but they’re often chocolate cards not cigarette cards. 

Anyway during this conversation Anson asked me if I was interested in a few of his duplicates. I guess he could tell that I liked them for what they are and not as any sort of investment. I was very surprised. There’s a wonderful part of Card Twitter where people just offer to send you a plain white envelope with a few cards.* I never respond to people tweeting their cards with the idea that someone will send me things** so I’m always shocked and somewhat embarrassed*** when it happens to me.

*This is what happened with the 1954 Bowman earlier as well.

**There’s a much-less-wonderful portion of Card Twitter which presumes that anything you tweet is something you’re willing to trade or sell.

***I just respond to things which I like since Twitter is most-enjoyable when you respond positively to other people instead of succumbing to the temptation to tear everything down. I’m not in it for freebies—those are just icing on the cake—and I certainly try not to come across as a prize hound.

A couple weeks ago the plain white envelope arrived. And it was beautiful. Colors were bright and crisp. I love the brushy artwork for the backgrounds and the way the ball is always halfway out of the frame. That one of the cards is a Notts County player in that black and white kit is fantastic. Do I know anything about Paddy Mills? Nothing more than what the back of the card and his Wikipedia page tell me. But the story about those shirts and how they had become Juventus’s kit in the beginning of the century is more than enough to make this card interesting to me.

Given how two of the cards feature black and white kits, I’m glad that the Jimmy Oakes comes from a period of Port Vale’s history when they did not wear black and white. As a card this is probably my favorite of the batch since the colors and the pose with the ball coming directly out of the frame are especially striking.

John Priestley’s card is fun too. I love that all three of these feature dynamic poses which capture a certain sense of the movement of soccer’s gameplay which still feels appropriate to the modern game. I’m also enjoying that all three cards feature teams that are now in League Two since the reminder of how a team’s fortunes can change over the decades coupled with the reassurance that the teams are still in existence and playing soccer is everything that’s great about the game.

But Anson did not stop there with those three Players Cigarettes card as he included some duplicate 1938 Churchman’s Cigarettes Association Footballers cards in the envelope as well. These aren’t as graphically exciting as the colorful Players cards but they do feature early action photography. This is pretty cool and the cards are printed at a fine-enough line screen that you can see that the photos are better than newsprint quality.

As a baseball card guy I’m not used to cards featuring players running or jumping. Maybe a follow-through. Maybe. But action photos on cards were pretty rare except when used as background images, special in-action cards, or World Series highlights.

The standout card here is Sir Stanley Matthews, inaugural member of the National Football Hall of Fame and the first active player to be knighted. There’s no obvious reason why should I recognize his name as being important except that he’s just one of those guys who you end up hearing about as you follow the game. Reading about him now when writing this post and it’s clear he was one of the all-time greats of the game who retired right when the modern era really got going.

Harry Goslin is an interesting card which captures certain poignancy in focusing on pre-war cards. In 1943 he was killed in action in Italy so these pre-war issues end up representing what could’ve been had there been no war. Reading the Wikipedia article gives me the impression that many of his Bolton teammates were in the same regiment as him too and while Goslin is the only one to die in the war, it’s kind of a scary thought for me as a fan that you could have your whole team wiped out in one bad battle.

George Mutch meanwhile is notable for 1938 reasons by being the game-winning goal scorer in the first FA Cup to be televised. Yes a bit of obscure trivia. But also a fun factoid to attach to this card.

That’s not all though. That plain white envelope also included a Sanella soccer “card” from the 1932 Sanella Margarine multi-sport set. It’s not exactly a card since it’s printed on thin paper but that doesn’t make it any less cool. As a type geek I appreciate seeing the blackletter fonts since I find the whole Antiqua-Fraktur debate about fonts and national identity to be incredibly fascinating. The idea that I could have printed ephemera from less than a century ago which is printed in my native language yet uses standard letterforms I can’t easily recognize is an amazing thought.

Along with letterform change that occurs in World War 2, this card also has other interesting pre/post war implications. It features Hanne Sobek whose English-language Wikipedia page is a stub but whose German page is fascinating. He ended up in East Germany after the war. In 1950 when the team he was coaching was barred from competing in West Germany, it defected to West Berlin and founded a new club.

Thanks for a wonderful, generous, beautiful mailing!