Sunday, February 17, 2019

Surprise! Baseball!

I was planning on posting about another tobacco card set I got, but it is a 50 card set and I haven't decided yet which cards to scan, so I am going to divert back into something that might actually interest readers: baseball!

I haven't paid much attention to my 1960s Fleer autograph project for over 7 months. The last card I added to my collection was the 1961 Joe Sewell and I posted about it on June 23.  Recently, on a lark, I looked at the eBay store for one of the key autographed card sellers, Mill Creek Sports.  I found two cards on sale for 50% off, making them around $25 each.  Quite coincidentally, one of them was Joe Sewell's brother, Luke:

Sewell enjoyed a 20 year career as a major league player and managed in 10 different seasons. Sewell was a catcher by trade and, if Baseball Reference is to be believed he was about replacement level, totaling 3.8 WAR over his career. Even if you discount is 1939 and 1942 seasons where he played a total of 22 games and hit .125, he still averaged about 0.23 WAR per season. He did catch three no hitters: Wes Ferrell on 4/29/1931, Vern Kennedy on 8/31/1935 and Bill Dietrich on 6/1/1937.

 During that 1942 season with the St Louis Browns he was actually in his second season as manager.  He led them that year to their first winning record since 1929. Two years later, he led the Browns to the AL pennant, only to loose to their Sportsman's Park co-tenant, the St Louis Cardinals.  Since both the Browns and Cards played at the same ballpark, they were never home at the same time.  So, Sewell shared an apartment with Cardinals manager Billy Southworth.  Since they were both in town for the Series, they flipped a coin to see who got the apartment.  Sewell won the toss.

By 1946, the Browns were basement dwellers again and Luke was fired prior to season end.  He faired no better at a second managerial stop in Cincinnati. He took over the helm with 3 games left in 1949 and continued through the 98th game of 1952. He managed a few years in the minors before leaving the game and going into business as owner of Seville Centrifugal Bronze in Akron, Ohio. He retired from business in 1970 and passed away 17 years later at the age of 86.

The other card I picked up was Johnny Mize.

I wrote about Mize when I got a signed version of his 1960 Fleer card. You can find that post here.

So, where am I on adding autographed 1960 Fleer cards?  Here is a chart:

Year Total Cards Possible Have Percentage
1960 79 40 7 17.5%
1961 154 95 19 20.0%
1963 66 66 63 95.5%
Total 299 201 89 44.3%

What I am listening to: Fisherman's Blues by The Waterboys

Monday, February 4, 2019

A Familiar Name

If the baseball card blogosphere is to be believed, one of the most anticipated Topps releases each year is the quirky Allen & Ginter set.  As most of you know Allen and Ginter was a 19th Century American tobacco company that issued a large number of trading card sets during it's short life from 1872 until 1890, when it was part of the multi-company merger that formed the American Tobacco Company.

According to the American Tobacco Cards Price Guide and Checklist book,  A&G produced card series N1 through N68, with 5 designations in that series unused.  What follows are cards from the N32 series, The World's Racers, that was issued in 1888.

These cards are on a nice heavy stock and are all in good shape considering that they are 131 years old.  The backs show a checklist of the subjects of the 50 card series.  Each of the 5 cards above show some level of minor paper loss indicating that they may have been mounted at one time.

Up next: A slightly younger (only 114 years old!) British issue

What I am listening to: Sailing to Philadelphia by Mark Knopfler

Thursday, January 31, 2019

When is a T Card not a T Card?

I realize that I am going heavy into my horse themed tobacco card set and have virtually ignored my sports card collection.  I am guessing this turn doesn't interest many of you, so I feel a quick explanation is in order.

I haven't forsaken my sports card collection, but I have put it on hold for a short time. I have been going to the OKC card show 4-6 times a year since 2011.  I've also been a periodic attendee at a very small monthly show at a local LCS. Both show are pretty much always the same sellers and while their inventory does change, they are routine experiences.  That isn't bad, but sometimes I'll go a couple shows without making progress on my sets.  I've only attended one non-local show and that was the National last year in Cleveland. I intend to change that.

While the Tristar show in Houston is a tempting destination, it is also a 7 hour drive from here.  That distance makes it, at a minimum. an overnight stay.  I'm not ready to take on that expense. So, I've decided that I may go to a show in the Dallas area on February 16 (proximity to Valentines Day may alter that plan.) It is a small show, with only 45 tables, but with different sellers it may be productive.  Because it is in the North Dallas suburbs, I am only looking at a 3 hour drive which means I can do it in a day.  Additionally, there is a larger, 200 table show in Dallas from April 26-28 that I may also go to.

Anyways, back to the subject at hand.  The post title may seem cryptic, but it is a marginally clever play on words.  Most of the cards in this collection have been the traditional Jefferson Burdick cataloged T (for tobacco) cards.  The cards I am about to show are not amongst those T cards.

So, when is a T card not a T card?  When they are tea cards. (Geddit?)

These cards were distributed with Typhoo tea in Great Britain in 1935.

Typhoo tea was created in 1903 by John Sumner, Jr the proprietor of a pharmacy/grocery in Birmingham, England for sale in his store. As these things are wont to do, Typhoo has changed hands numerous times over the years. It was part of Cadbury-Schweppes from the late-60s through the mid-80s.  It still exists as a brand controlled by the Indian company, Apeejay Surrendra Group.

While I have not done significant research into their card offerings, it does appear that they did offer cards with their products from the mid 1920s through the 1930s and again from the mid1950s through at least 1976, when they actually offered a Doctor Who set.

The cards are approximately 1-7/16" by 3-7/8" in size. As such they don't fit into any available storage sheet.  I have had to put them into a 6 pocket sheet, which is both too wide and too tall for the cards, but it was the best I could find.

This set, 25 cards strong, has horses as the subject. Although it is a bit odd that some cards focus on various breeds of horses, while others focus on horses by their use.  You can samples of each above,

The back is basically an advertisement for where the Typhoo customer can purchase golf and/or tennis balls.  Go figure.

What I am listening to: East Side of Town by Lucinda Williams

Sunday, January 27, 2019

1927 Josetti Show Jumping

Many of these tobacco sets I have been working on are from outside the United States.  I've only showed a few so far, but only one was from the US (N231 Kinney Brothers Great American Trotters.)  The others have all been from Great Britain.  Today, we are going to adventure across the Channel and show a small set from Germany: the 1927 Josetti Show Jumping Series, consisting of only 6 cards.

The cigarette manufacturing company was formed in Berlin in 1888 by Oskar Josetti, but he sold out in 1892 when he emigrated to the United States.The company continued and in 1896 introduced the popular JUNO cigarette.

The company itself was run, starting in 1905 by an affiliate of the American Tobacco Company. This continued for 10 years, until Deutsche Bank bought out the foreign shareholders. It became part of the Reemtsma company in the mid 1920s and continued production of JUNO until 1943 when, apparently, the factory fell victim to an Allied air raid.  Production began again in 1951 and continued until 2016.

The stock for this set is rather thin.  It is more akin to heavy magazine stock than what you would typically associated with a tobacco card.  Perhaps the thin stock inhibited a lot of handling, as the cards I received are in excellent condition.

This guy above better be careful. His leg is swung back behind the girth leaving him off balance and without a base of support.. If the horse stumbles on the landing, he is dismounting in a rather spectacular, and ultimately painful manner.

There is an interesting story behind this card.  The subject, Prince Friedrich Sigismund died on July 6 of 1927, the year this set was issued.  He was riding in an international competition in Lucerne, Switzerland when he fell from his horse. He got his foot caught in a stirrup and ended up underneath the horse where he was trampled, sustaining significant thoracic injuries that he succumbed to shortly thereafter.  I find this somewhat ironic because, of the several cards in this set, his depicts the rider with the best and safest position over the jump.

Coming up next, we'll go to the mid 1930s and take an ever so slight detour from tobacco cards.

What I am listening to: Thumbelina by The Pretenders

Tuesday, January 22, 2019


First unanimous selection to the Baseball Hall of Fame!

Two thoughts:

1.  He shouldn't have been the first unanimous selection.  There are others players that should have been unanimous previously. Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial, Sandy Koufax, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron all come to mind.

2. There are those out there who don't believe relief pitchers are deserving of enshrinement in the HOF. And, certainly, modern metrics like WAR bear that out. However, Rivera was, without a doubt, the most dominant reliever of the modern era. And possibly any era. Being a Yankees fan, I watched him pitch many, many times and it is hard to state how consistently dominant he was.  Even as a 43 year old coming off a torn ACL that cut his 2012 season short, he was fearsome.

Oh, and one final note:  the card above was sent to me a few years back by Night Owl. Also, one of my best Christmas presents ever came from my wife three years ago:

Friday, January 18, 2019

Cleanup in Aisle Sports

Not too long ago, Night Owl ran a giveaway to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his blog.  I entered, but was fairly far down on the order of selection and a lot of really cool cards had already been picked over. I ended up choosing the 2008 Topps Babe Ruth you see below. 

It doesn't really fit in my collecting wheelhouse, but it is a nice card and is apparently fairly rare.  The 1994 Rawlings Yoo-hoo Bobby Bonds was included and is a nice card as well. I like the design and it is the type of modern oddball I might consider collecting.  

The following cards arrived from the inestimable Mr. Haverkamp.  He sent me 8 cards from 1972-73 Topps basketball, a set I started working on last fall.  Of the 8 cards, I needed two and three others were clear upgrades. I am not sure why I didn't scan all five of the cards before they went into the binder, but I didn't. So, here is four of the cards that found their way into my binder.

And finally, a card from 1968 Topps Baseball:

In terms of my sports card collecting, I am working on 1968 and 1970 Topps Baseball and am less than 100 cards from completing each set.  Specifically, I need 76 cards to finish 1968 and 99 to finish 1970.  Even though the number of cards is lower for 1968, I am probably further away. The only major stars I need for 1970 are Roberto Clemente and Al Kaline. However, for 1968 I lack most of the star cards, including the dreaded Tom Seaver rookie card and the Killebrew/Mays/Mantle Super Stars card.

I got this on an Ebay auction. My approach to set building is to get as far as I can with local shows and card shops. Once those sources are exhausted, I generally look to Greg Morris Cards set breatk auctions to fill out the set.  It takes a while because I usually only end up winning a few auctions at a time.  With 1068 and 1970, this is the point I am at. Although, my tentative trip to a Dallas show in February may help me knock a few more off in person.

So that may be about it for a while. I'll still keep an eye on Ebay, but my expectation is that I'll add more cards to my horse themed tobacco card collection and keep my powder dry on everything else until February.

What I am listening to: Jacob's Dream by Alison Krauss (sorry)

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

1938 Gallaher Racing Scenes

It may seem like I have foresworn sports cards lately, but that really isn't the case.  I swear it isn't.  It is just that these horse themed tobacco cards are really quite affordable.  Take for example, the 48 card 1938 Gallaher Racing Scenes set which I am about to show  These cards are in excellent condition and I was able to get the complete set for $11 delivered.  I still collect sports cards, but am going to skip the January OKC show in favor of saving up and going to a show down in Dallas in February.  So, the sports card posts may be a little skimpy for a while.

This set is my favorite horse themed set yet.  While it does show various scenes of horses and jockeys, it also shines a little light backstage, if you will.  For this post I'm going to focus on those cards.

This is interesting. I am not sure if it is indicative of the casual racism of the early 20th century or not, but it certainly speaks to tensions between the Gypsy/Roma/Traveler community that came to Surrey each year for the Epsom Derby and the local gentry.  There is an interesting BBC photo  story about this topic. Here also is an interesting history of the Gypsy presence at Epsom.

Here is a picture of a young horse being trained.  This is still a common training technique known as lunging.  It is often done on a lunge line, as seen here, or in a round pen without.   Part of the training is to train the horses to move through the three gaits. But, lunging is also a fairly typical  in various natural horsemanship techniques to develop a rapport between horse and trainer.

Ah, the farrier.  One thing you need to understand is that the horses hoof is the equine analog to our finger/toenails and as, such are constantly growing.  So, the farrier needs to come out periodically to trim the hoof and reset the shoes, if they are used.  It is a matter of preference how frequently the farrier comes out.  We normally go seven weeks between visits. We are lucky that most of our horses have good feet and don't require shoeing, only trims. Now something that isn't commonly known, sometimes even amongst horse owners, is that the farrier is an important contributor to the health of the horse.  For example:

This is an x-ray of the front foot of a laminatic horse.  The triangle shaped bone is the coffin bone and is equivalent to one of our finger phalanges.  The surfaces of the coffin bone should be parallel to the hoof wall.  The hoof is attached to the bone with a fibrous tissue known as lamina.  If the lamina breaks down, the bone rotates, as you can see above. This is painful for the horse (imagine having to stand on your tiptoes for an extended period of time.) While this can have a mechanical cause, it is quite often attributable to a diabetic reaction to something in the horses diet. A good farrier is every bit as important as a vet in treating laminitis.  Generally, they will in the short term do some corrective shoeing to better distribute the pressure of standing more evenly across the foot. Over the longer term they will gradually trim the foot to get the angles back to normal.

But, I digress.

The motor horse box.  I am told this is still a common configuration for vehicles in Europe. Here is the US, as most of you have probably seen, is a separate trailer pulled by a pickup truck.

I just thought this was funny.  A local horse racing track does something similar for charity, but with ostriches instead of donkeys.

What I am listening to: Redemption day by Sheryl Crow