The following article was published in 7 installments in 2004 and 2005 by Sports Collectors Digest and is reprinted here with their permission. A condensed version appeared in the inaugural edition of Old Cardboard Magazine in 2004


The 1930s



By George Vrechek, OBC Member


I have found that collectors enjoy the nostalgia-clouded recollections of their youth and don’t even mind going back to the nostalgia-clouded recollections of someone else’s youth. When most of us got interested in card collecting as a hobby we were fortunate to have checklists, price guides, auctions, dealers, stores and shows to choose from as to how we increased our collections and our knowledge of cards. But what did collectors do in, say, the 1910s or 1930s? I actually don’t have much of an idea of what they did in the 1910s, although that seems like a worthy question for a future endeavor. Fortunately I do have some information as to what went on in the 1930s that helped organize collectors’ efforts.


Jefferson Burdick

Any reporting of early collecting has to mention Jefferson Burdick, called the father of card collecting. Burdick (1900-1963) published, collected, organized, donated and researched, all in the field of collected cards. Burdick was a 1922 graduate of Syracuse University who amassed a collection of over 300,000 cards that he donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. He spent nearly 30 years writing about card collecting and developed the system of card classifications known today. However Burdick has to be understood as being one of the many dedicated collectors who were active in the 1930s. To get a sense of how long people have been enthused about collecting you could probably start with Neanderthal man. However the Neanderthals didn’t publish much so I will jump to the 1930s and look at Hobbies Magazine.  Hobbies advertised themselves as the magazine for collectors. It was a consolidation of the following previously independent endeavors: Sports and Hobbies, Philatelic West, Hobby News, Collector’s World, Post Card World, Hobby World, The Stamp Collector’s Magazine and about a dozen other publications. Otto C. Lightner of Chicago was the editor. (Lightner was called the father of the antique show.) For example the December 1932 issue has some 150 pages, professionally typeset, with numerous illustrations, ads and articles. Subjects covered included stamps (44 pages), coins (8 pages) but also rocks, minerals, Indian relics, razors, cameos, books, porcelain, moustache cups, earrings, firearms, match boxes. You name it. Just don’t name baseball cards because there weren’t any articles on baseball cards – until December 1935. Subscriber Jefferson Burdick, age 35, must have been tired of reading about all those silly other hobbies with no one really getting into cards and contacted the editor. In December 1935 J.R. Burdick has an article near the back of the magazine titled “Cigarette Cards.” (In Burdick’s The American Card Catalog he mentions cataloging cards in a short magazine article in 1936. I guessed that it was Hobbies Magazine but was surprised to find his first article in 1935. In the interests of full disclosure, there was a brief article in the December,1932  Hobbies written perhaps by the editor. The article reports the increase in popularity of collecting cigarette cards as reported by a London dealer, probably The London Cigarette Card Co. which advertised on the same page.)


December 1935 Hobbies Article

Burdick’s published writings always impressed me as very efficient. He may have been encouraged in this by Hobbies Magazine. It appeared that the editor allowed each writer only so much space. Stamps, coins, rocks and the like all had their assigned spaces. Cigarette cards as a collectible was a new miscellaneous category near the back of the book with a little under two pages available to Burdick. He thanked Hobbies for their kindness and then used the space given him to the fullest. Burdick opens with “At one time these interesting cards were quite extensively collected and attic searches would probably reveal many boxes laid away and forgotten. There are yet, too, some active collectors.” You can quickly tell that Burdick is one of them in that he gives a brief outline of the tobacco manufacturers and the cards they produced – when they felt like producing them. He describes the tobacco cards from the 1880s to the 1910s, calling them “neglected” by 1935. He divides the cards between the pre-1900 “old style” of cards on thicker stock, sometimes being actual photographs versus the “new style” cards printed on thinner stock. Burdick mentions that he has seen the catalogs and price guides on tobacco cards from England where the “hobby is quite flourishing.” Burdick wants to see the same enthusiasm and organization in the U.S.


Burdick covers albums, silks, leathers, flannels and the coupons needed to obtain gifts. There is one small illustration: a buffalo card. The closest he comes to baseball is mentioning athletes on cards. He finishes by giving complete checklists for two 50-card sets: Indian Life in the ‘60s (as in 1860s) and the Lighthouse Series both by Hassan. Readers are encouraged to contact Burdick at 417 S. Crouse Ave, Syracuse.


Hobbies January 1936

Burdick is given one page in January and uses it to list 189 sets from Allen & Ginter, Duke and Sons, Goodwin, Kinney and others. Buried in the listing which includes “Prize and Game Chickens” and “Histories of Poor Boys Who Became Rich” is the only pure baseball set: the “Goodwin & Co. baseball player photos.” Burdick again encourages readers to write him or better yet to include a sample card of other issues that “will be returned promptly.” Burdick sums up with: “The bare listing of the sets gives but a faint idea of the beauty and interest of these old sets. They rank favorably with other illustrations and prints of the period which are so cherished. They represent a cross section of the art, styles, humor, sports, and other activities of the Gay Nineties and the preceding decade. Lillian Russell was in her glory, baseball players wore big mustaches, and prize fighters were tough guys who were going good at the end of thirty rounds. Some of our Western states were still Territories and a lot of foreign nations of the day have passed out of existence. We wonder if another fifty years will show such great changes.”


Hobbies March 1936

Burdick took February off and comes back with one page in March 1936. He thanks the many readers who contacted him with a renewed interest in collecting cards. Burdick estimates that there were probably 20,000 cigarette cards that had been issued. He then continues his cataloging ways by listing large-sized cards as Sets A through DD, medium-sized cards as Am through Rm, small cards as As through Ts as well as many other sets. Burdick mentions that the “new” cards seem more attractive but the old designs intrigue many “perhaps by the somewhat revealing ‘leg shows’ of the old actress cards.” The listings include Set X Baseball folders triple Hassan, set Y Baseball folders double (50) Fatima, Set Z Baseball team (photos) Fatima, Set Ps Baseball players (400) gold framed cards, Set Qs Baseball Champions 1910 Fireside, Set Rs Baseball players (brown background), Set Ss Baseball Players (white framed cards), and Set Ts Domino Baseball Discs Sweet Caporal.


The Kaw Chief Stamp Journal Articles of Lionel Carter

No one else seems to have written about the U.S. card collecting hobby at the time other than eighteen year old G. Lionel Carter of Colfax, Illinois. Carter subscribed to the Kaw Chief Stamp Journal, a weekly newsletter for stamp collectors that set subscribers back 25 cents – per year! Carter was a stamp collector first but got very interested in baseball cards when the DeLongs made their appearance in Colfax in 1933. Carter asked the Kaw Chief editor if he could do a column on baseball card collecting in the general hobby section of the publication. (Kaw, Kanza or Kansas was an Indian tribe originally on the plains but eventually moved to Oklahoma in 1873. The last pure-blooded Kaw died in 2000. Check out an interesting website on the Kaw at – http://www.rootsweb.com/~itkaw/KanzaNation.html, but I digress considerably.) While Hobbies Magazines have been retained or transferred to microfilm by libraries and even show up fairly regularly on ebay, the Kaw Chief Stamp Journal is much harder to find. I only found that it is in libraries at Yale, Brown, the University of Illinois and the Smithsonian.  The University of Illinois provided copies of two articles by Carter.


First Article on Baseball Cards?

Carter’s first column appeared in the Kaw Chief Stamp Journal of December 2, 1936. Burdick’s articles mention baseball perhaps 5% of the time. Carter mentions baseball 100%. From what I found this article by Carter appears to be the very first published article written exclusively about baseball cards. The title is “The Baseball Card Collector.” Carter starts with: “Greetings, baseball card collectors, how’s the ole collection coming? The purpose of this first column is…to ‘get acquainted’ with a new hobby – baseball card collecting. Perhaps it would be the right thing to state the different types and publishers of the cards we collect: Leading the list is the series of 240 Big League Cards published in 1933 by the Goudey Gum Co. of Boston. This set shows a colored picture of the baseball star while his life history is typed on the back. In the 1934 series, these histories were written by Lou Gehrig and Chuck Klein.” (It did say that right on the cards.) Carter describes the Batter-Ups, DeLongs, York Caramels Series of 60 and mentions corresponding with collectors in Connecticut and Georgia. “A Georgia collector recently notified me of an old type in which players are printed four to a large sheet and in yellow, red and green colors. Please notify the writer if you know of any other types, but whether you have a new series to report or not, write to this column if you are interested in baseball card collecting. Then if there are enough collectors, I’ll organize a club.”


In the second article in February 1937, Carter writes: “Since the last column, several bits of very interesting information and important news have reached us…. Edward Golden of Noroton Heights, Conn. and Joe Barwicki of Youngstown, Ohio have both notified this column that the Batter Up series of cards has been extended from No. 80 to No. 180…. Mr. Golden also reports that a new set of Big League Cards (presumably the 1936 edition) are now on sale in Connecticut. These new cards are not numbered and might be classed as ‘photo cards’ due to their resemblance to the 1936 photographs.” Carter lists many of the players on the sets and then makes a pitch to issuers Goudey, National Chicle, DeLong and York Caramel to consider adding new stars to their sets such as “Yankee slugger Joe DiMaggio or the strike out king of the A.L. Bob Feller. Let’s all hope for a bigger and better 1937 for baseball card collectors.” Carter is searching for other collectors interested in baseball cards but doesn’t find much of an audience in a stamp magazine. He has found maybe a dozen baseball card issues from his perch in central Illinois. He has yet to see a tobacco card or hear of Jefferson Burdick, but it’s not much longer before he finds a much wider collecting world.


Card Collectors Bulletin Issues 1 Through 4 in 1937

A year after the first Hobbies Magazine article Burdick began publishing himself with the Card Collectors Bulletin beginning with a two-page issue mimeographed on one side dated January 1, 1937. In his first Bulletin he mentions that the interest in his Hobbies articles “shows that the hobby has real possibilities for development.” He writes that he is expecting to resume a small column in the magazine and the “cooperation of all collectors is asked in order to make it permanent. These Bulletins will supplement the magazine notes and will furnish the needed technical details while leaving historical material etc. to the magazine.” He lists 15 known collectors, describes his opinions on the prices of tobacco cards (two cents each), and describes what will be in future issues for those interested in sending 25 cents for the next three issues. He mails the first issue to “over 55 names on my list and to others.”


Burdick continues with 4 or 5 page issues from February to April 1937, listing sets, prices, adding collectors’ names and writing about the hobby. Not surprisingly, for those familiar with Burdick, each of the issues came out exactly when he planned to the 23 paid subscribers. Burdick starts by giving even the subscribers numbers with  #23 being a Noyes Huston of Chicago. At 25 cents each Burdick was already grossing about $5.75 for the year’s effort!



One of the important features in these early issues was including prices for cards in a set. In Issue #1 Burdick writes:

“The question of values is one on which there has heretofore been little attempt at agreement. For the good of the Hobby some price schedule should be worked out. The following suggestions are my personal ideas formed after considerable dealings and correspondence with dealers and collectors throughout the country. It should be remembered that they are suggestions only, and I wish to hear opinions all for the purpose of stating more definite prices in set listings of future Bulletins.


I am told that certain cards have changed hands at from 50 cents to $1.00 each. I doubt the justification of such prices and I think it ridiculous to expect the Hobby to thrive with such ideas in effect. Cards at the present time are distinctly a minor hobby….Supply and demand varies for different sets, but I would place a basic catalogue price of TWO CENTS each for want list and approval purposes and as a basis for trading. There are exceptions in both directions. This price is for cards in FINE UNDAMAGED CONDITION. Many cards are quite common are usually found in worn condition and so are not worth two cents unless perfect.” (Hence the apparent origin of the expression “I wouldn’t give you 2 cents for that….bent up old 1933 Goudey Ruth.”)


In issue #2 Burdick lists about 100 sets with prices per card as a “checklist of tobacco cards issued since 1900.” He adds “50 copies of this Bulletin will be printed. About half will be sent out immediately and half reserved for future orders.” As to advertising he writes: “A collector asks to purchase space in the next Bulletin in which to list his individual wants. There is no objection to this but, it will be necessary to charge two cents per line (6 lines per inch) to cover the additional cost.” (This may have been a little rich or more probably Burdick didn’t have the room in that the first small ad didn’t appear in the Bulletin until 2½ years later.)  He then lists the sets. Set #521 is called “Baseball Series (players) white borders, Sweet Cap; Cycle; Piedmont; Old Mill; Soverign; Obak, etc Same designs on baseball Caramel cards. Several hundred designs known…   .01” (As in 1 cent each.) The #520 gold borders run the same. The 16 large Fatima team photos are the priciest cards listed at 10 cents each. They list at about $8,000 each today. If these cards continue to escalate at the same rate in the future, Fatima team photos will book for about $640 million each by 2071. Burdick’s next two issues continue the listings with pre 1900 tobacco cards. The sports cards in all cases are a small fraction of the listings but the Old Judge’s and Leading Baseball Players hang in there with the best of the other sets such as Feminine Occupations, Dogs of the World, Ballet Queens and Homes of the Poets at two and three cents each. (It is quite painful to read this stuff!)


In Issue #4 of April 1937 Burdick writes: “No plans for additional bulletins have been made at this time. It is quite probable that later on sufficient material will be gathered for other issues. If, and when, such issues are ready all who receive this Bulletin shall be notified….The card column in Hobbies Magazine is yet to begin, but it is hoped that room may be found soon.”


Articles Resume in Hobbies in 1937

The card column Burdick referred to finally appeared as “Card Collecting” in Hobbies in May 1937, a year after his last article. Burdick writes about the ‘80’s – the 1880’s. Similar to today’s insert cards, someone had the idea of inserting a $5 gold coin in a very small percentage of cigarette packages. Soon every package of tobacco had card inserts with the practice peaking in 1890. However inserts disappeared as quickly as they had arrived as competition relaxed.


Burdick continues his history with an article in August 1937 on how inserts reappeared by 1909. Turkish tobaccos were the fad and Burdick writes: “the important thing to us is that the early importers of Turkish tobaccos were small independent concerns. To increase popularity of their new brands they turned to inserts.” Burdick explains why the inserts disappeared for the second time in 1915. Given the small space available to him Burdick can’t really write much about individual cards let alone sets.


The last article I found in the 1930s (before getting bleary-eyed from reviewing microfilm) was “Card Collecting” in September 1937. Burdick’s subject this time is variations: “Nothing seems to intrigue a collector so much as a mistake….In the small baseball cards with team symbol in top left corner we find Dougherty of the Chicago White Sox but the sox are red, like the rest of the background and not white. In the extra large cards we find Doolan of the Phillies with the name spelled Doolin. Both these errors were corrected.” We find Burdick was into the details and sounds like he is interested in baseball although he spends an equal amount of space on variations involving cowboys, aviators, and prize fighters. Burdick writes: “For extreme specialists, and there are such, every minute difference such as color of ink, and factory number, make a new variety. In some sets there is seemingly no end for such a collection…Collectors who love to search for mistakes and varieties will be well pleased with card collecting. There is plenty of proof that we all make mistakes or at least change our minds.”


Hobby Shows With Baths

Hobbies Magazine was crammed with information on many hobbies although none that I saw with the detail presented by Burdick. Collectors had the opportunity to entertain themselves in the middle of the depression at many antique and hobby shows across the country. The Hotel Sherman in Chicago advertised in the magazine that the Chicago Hobby Show had again selected the hotel as their headquarters for a one-week show. Why not? They advertised 1,700 rooms and 1,700 baths from $2.50. The Carter Hotel in Cleveland hosted a one-week hobby show the next week – and matched the $2.50 per day rate. Who would pay say $17.50 for a “white framed” Wagner if you could stay the week in Cleveland for the same? 


While Burdick’s first column in Hobbies ran nearly two pages with an illustration, the last three articles in 1937 were still buried in the back of the magazine and were about one-third of a page each with no illustrations. Apparently Hobbies didn’t give Burdick a permanent column or perhaps Burdick felt that the space allowed would never be adequate. Burdick’s column does not appear in Hobbies after September 1937.


The Bulletin Resumes With Issues 5 Through 8 in 1938

As he had advised his Card Collectors Bulletin readership of perhaps 27 subscribers, Burdick didn’t return with a fifth issue until nearly a year later. In Bulletin 5 of March 1938 Burdick reported “a satisfactory advance in card collecting can be reported – not a boom but a slow and steady growth. Several collectors have gone after cards via advertising and many fine collections are being built. Most collectors are finding the Bulletin prices to be a fair indication of values for sale or exchange.” He makes no mention of Hobbies Magazine. Subscriber #30 is Howard Myers who shortly thereafter furnishes a surprisingly complete checklist of T206s. The next issues in 1938 are all five-pages increasingly jammed with detail on card sets and prices.


Carter Finds Burdick

Issue 6 of June 1938 welcomes three new subscribers: Jack Holland of Brooklyn, Harry Lilien of New York City and Lionel Carter of Colfax, Illinois who is listed as a “baseball card specialist.” Carter is the first to be so listed and per Burdick’s numbering system for subscribers/collectors he is #35.


Lionel Carter, now twenty years old, had been searching for other hobbyists. Carter found collector Edward Golden in 1936 and Golden let him know about Jefferson Burdick’s publication. Carter was delighted in finding Burdick and a handful of other subscribers including future trading buddies Harry Lilien and John Wagner. Carter is most likely the only subscriber from the 1930s still alive today. Carter quickly subscribed to the Bulletin and obtained the five prior issues, the very issues on durable 8½ by 11 yellowish paper that I have read to research this article. Carter discontinued his efforts on the Kaw Chief Stamp Journal and began contributing information to Burdick’s Card Collectors Bulletin. (Carter struck out on his own with a small publication in 1940. He got out four issues before being called off to World War II.)


Card Collectors Bulletin Continues

Issues 6 through 8 from June to November 1938 show the gradual evolution in Burdick’s enthusiasm for the hobby. No one else seems to have written a word of text in any of these first eight Bulletins. Early on he writes that he has done about all he intended to by listing the tobacco inserts, then he writes that no other card listings are contemplated except those of candy and gum cards (including those of course issued with ice cream, cracker jack, etc.) You can tell he is addicted. Carter zeroes in on baseball, Burdick expands. Burdick lists more tobacco cards, corrects previous listings, lists coffee cards, soda cards and bread issues. He even lists all the other card types that he won’t “be listing” such as old trade merchandising cards, Bible cards, playing cards, foreign cards, etc. (except he winds up listing Canadian issues anyway). While Burdick doesn’t have room to list individual cards in the Bulletins, you are encouraged to write him to borrow his individual card listings for a short time. 


Burdick gives three tips for happy collecting:

  1. “Be honest – it is the foundation of everything including collecting.
  2. Be prompt – make full returns in 10 days, or less if possible.
  3. Be fair – in a swap be sure you have enough of the right material – and remember in any real deal – both sides must be satisfied.”


Burdick reports on prices. “It has been noted by several that the Bulletin prices need revision of some sort. This is quite natural as information on supply and demand is being accumulated continuously.” He mentions the idea of prices for individual cards desired from want lists versus buying a dozen or more cards in bulk. He mentions discounts for poorer conditioned cards. If several cards are needed he recommends buying lots. If a few cards are needed, the want list or approval method is best. “It is hoped that a permanent ‘United States Card Collectors Catalog’ may be printed at some future time incorporating a new pricing system and furnishing much additional information about the sets….Only a few sets of these Bulletins are now left (subscribers must be up to about 45) and when exhausted must be replaced in some way” (no copy machines at work in 1938). 


Other subjects include listing about 150 recent (since 1930) candy and gum cards, album mounting methods, and the increase in card collecting. “No boom (which is not wanted) but a gradual spread which is absorbing supplies as fast as they are found. Dealers of all kinds are watching closely for card finds.”


The United States Card Collectors Bulletin, 1939

The Bulletins stop momentarily after November 1938. Burdick devotes his efforts to producing The United States Card Collectors Bulletin in 1939. This “Bulletin” was professionally typeset and had prices for cards in each of the listed sets. It had 72 pages with 3 punch holes. Future updates and corrections (which turned out to be numerous) could be added to the binder to keep the catalog up to date. The bi-monthly Bulletin returned with the same style of paper (6 inch by 9 inch green paper) so that the issues could be added to the original 72-page production. Burdick mentions feedback he has received on the United States Card Collectors Bulletin in his August 1939 Volume II Number 1 of The Card Collector’s Bulletin (Burdick had been a little loose as to when and where he used the apostrophe). He reported producing 500 copies of which 100 were sent to the initial subscribers. The cost of everything to produce the catalog was about $300. Receipts from purchasers and advertisers were expected to be about the same. When all 500 copies were sold Burdick would break even. The method of describing sets was not the N, E, T and R system that we know. Burdick had categories for tobacco and “candy and gum” and listed sets in each category by numbers getting up to about 709.


The Bi-Monthly Bulletins Begin an Uninterrupted Streak

The six yearly issues of the Bulletin could be ordered for 30 cents per year which was “intended to cover the bare cost of production and postage.” Burdick reports each year thereafter that the Bulletin has enjoyed another year of continuous publication. Many of the early Bulletins contain numerous additions and corrections to the 1939 catalog. The reader needs to buy the catalog to keep track of the set numbers that Burdick uses to report changes. He provides checklists of individual cards in a few sets including very recent issues such as the 1936 Goudey game cards. The Diamond Stars are covered as well: “There are but 96 designs as numbers 97-108 repeat various earlier designs. The series was issued in 1934, 1935, and 1936 with players’ statistics revised for each year. A complete collection contains 156 cards.”


Other miscellaneous bits of news as you page through Volume II, No. 1 that has grown to 10 pages:


  • “In Europe “Postage Extra” is the established custom. In America we seldom hear it except for parcels to far postage zones. In the East it is common to ask an additional charge for shipments West of the Mississippi.”


  • “Present day card issuers in the candy and gum field watch sales closely, and if not satisfactory, a series may be suddenly stopped. A series of cards costs thousands of dollars to produce and must bring the desired results. ‘Horrors of War’ first series of 240 was highly successful but the continuation was stopped with No. 288.”


  • “There are seldom remainders of cards. In recent gum cards there are few. Gum, Inc. sold a Collectors Outfit of Nos 1-240 Horrors of War for $1 and Maywood Candy Co. sold Dick Tracy (144) for $1.10. These may still be available. (No, not to you SCD readers! You needed to follow up on this in August 1939.) The writer has a number of Goudey and Nat. Chicle remainders now being sold at a low rate mostly as an accommodation to collectors.”


  • “The Bulletin (as in Burdick) has recently acquired its own printing equipment. Any inferior work may be blamed to unfamiliarity of the part of the staff (as in Burdick).”


Volume II, Number 2, October 1939

This is the first Bulletin with anything written by anyone other than Jefferson Burdick and the first issue with any advertising – three ads that took up less than half of one page.


The news continues:

  • “Collectors are asked to report errors and omissions so that they may be noted in subsequent issues. As time goes on it will be necessary to print many incomplete lists as many sets are not now, and may never be completely known.”


  • Burdick has the 1936 Goudey puzzle set figured out at 108 cards or maybe 120. At any rate he goes to much greater lengths than most current guides in trying to determine how many front/back/border variations there may be in the set.


  • “Catalog Sales. Three mediums, other than Hobbies (Hobbies Magazine), are now being used for catalog advertising. The widest possible publicity is desired and all are asked for ideas and suggestions.”


  • P.M. Nagle of Freeport, NY is the first advertiser in the Bulletin – “a collector of cigarette cards and menus prior to 1892.”


An editorial by Donald Van Brakle (subscriber #11) praises Mr. Burdick in “the matter of valuation. In his adoption of one cent as a basic or minimum value he has made a wise choice. While every collector will naturally hold a divergent opinion on certain series, in general I find myself in close accord with his scales of RELATIVE valuations…He has wisely avoided the pitfall (of pricing cards for which some are willing to pay 5 or 10 cents). The law of supply and demand does not function satisfactorily in a field like this where the supply of material new to collectors is scanty and uncertain, the floating supply is exceedingly small and usually taken quickly out of circulation, and demand is satisfied as soon as a few collectors have been supplied…He has been immune to two temptations that might assail a less honest compiler. One is the assumption that certain series of which he has or has seen few subjects have a high value. The other is the deliberate undervaluation of certain items which the compiler needs for his own collection. On both counts Mr. Burdick’s performance is beyond reproach. Mr. Burdick deserves all credit for his pioneering in this field, for his intellectual honesty in his dealings with fellow collectors and in his preparation of the catalog, and for his single-minded devotion to this hobby to the exclusion of personal gain.” Mr. Van Brakle had Mr. Burdick pretty well analyzed. (It was nice of Burdick to give him a full page to share his opinion.) His opinion was echoed by many over the next 24 years.


December 1939, Issue No. 3 Closes the 1930s

The final Bulletin of the decade offers an observation by Burdick that the year 1939 “has continued the slow tempo of the past two years in new card issues. Most issues were gum cards and the trend has been to larger sizes. Lionel Carter advertises in this issue looking to fill his wants in Batter-Ups, Big League, Sport Kings and many other sets. The guest editorial is by John D. Wagner, one of the first 14 subscribers to the Bulletin. Again the subject is card valuation and the focus is on the almighty penny. “Cards when bought in large lots of 500 to 1,000 or more should always be had at a fair discount of say a third or half of catalog value at least. One must always figure on numerous duplicates as well as many poor copies…I feel that 1 cent per card is a safe guidepost when dealing in unseen accumulations. It seems to me that the early (prior to 1900) cards should be worth close to list price even in quantities. I would say 1 cent each as a basis for large lots of the 1910 era, 1½ cent for the 1887-1900, and $3 to $7 per 1,000 for the recent gum cards. To those of you in search of cards why not try your local paper. Results may indeed surprise you. (I would have certainly been surprised had I gotten a response to an ad that I was looking to pay ½ cent each for Ruth, Gehrig or any of the other 1933 Goudeys.) Often when the owner is allowed to set the price you may get the cards at considerably less than your own offer might be. Should a hobby magazine be tackled you can rest assured they will cost more than catalog prices. So don’t be surprised to hear from parties who will put a $1 per card tag. I have had several and one with even $2.50 per card. All this means nothing, of course, and we are darn near crazy to fall for this stuff, so these may be eliminated altogether.” 


In four years the hobby’s visibility went from the first small article in the back of Hobbies Magazine to a well-written and organized catalog followed by a regularly issued newsletter with prices, ads and editorials. Except for Lionel Carter’s articles there has been nothing written about individual baseball players, let alone other sports. All card set subjects are treated with equal enthusiasm by Burdick and many other early collectors. Prices are escalating, but a dime will buy you most any card you can find. After many years of being “laid away and forgotten” as Burdick wrote in his first Hobbies article, the cards were coming into the light.



The Early 1940s


When we last left our heroes Jefferson Burdick, Lionel Carter and the rest of the card collecting/hobby publication gang in December 1939, Burdick had just completed issue number 3 of the Card Collector’s Bulletin that he founded in 1937. A few other collectors had begun writing for the Bulletin and running small ads. As I read the yellowed pages of the Bulletins from 1940 to 1945 retained by Lionel Carter, I imagined that I would see a disruption in the hobby during World War II due to paper shortages, players as well as collectors going into the service, and the lack of new card issues. Reading the bi-monthly issues I found, although World War II impacted the hobby, life went on and hobbies and sports remained useful diversions. There was a tremendous flow of information among the few active collectors. Articles in the Bulletin were serious, thorough, and accurate. Subjects included scarcities in the T206 set, correspondence from collectors in England, additions to the catalog and research into the earliest tobacco cards. When I found something of interest in the Bulletins I marked it with a yellow sticker. I ran out of yellow stickers. It was much harder to find an article in these early 1940s Bulletins that wasn’t of interest. While there were a few other articles on card collecting, there were no other hobby publications that I found during this period.


 1940 Card Collector’s Bulletins

Burdick begins the decade by inviting his subscribers to allow him to list their names, addresses and a few lines about their collecting interests to publish in the next few issues. There is, however, a one cent charge per listing to help defray additional postage costs – seriously. These guys watched their pennies. Fifty collector listings subsequently appear. The majority are not sports specialists. Instead they are collectors of post cards, greeting cards, British cards, “post cards showing Presbyterian Churches,” tea tags, and Americana. Included in the listing are:

  • Charles Bray, Easton, Pa., (future long-time Bulletin editor) dealer and collector of early tobacco cards
  • Jefferson Burdick, Syracuse, N.Y., advertising and inserts of all kinds U.S. and Canada
  • G. Lionel Carter, Colfax, Illinois, specialist baseball cards, photos, pins, etc.
  • Edward Golden, Noroton Heights, Conn., all cards picturing sports desired
  • Noyes Huston, Winnetka, Ill., baseball pioneers, fighters, World War subjects (as in the only World War at the time)
  • Jim Keyes, San Francisco, Calif., all sports cards, programs, photos, magazines, etc.
  • Harry Lilien, New York, N.Y., general collector
  • E.L. Lancaster, Lancaster, Pa., general collector – both cards and silks
  • Howard Myers, Buffalo, N.Y., insert cards, U.S. and British albums, silks, buttons, etc.
  • H. Bruce Spencer, (in an office in Chicago that is about 50 feet away from my current office), playing cards
  • Samuel Tanenbaum, Hartford, Conn., collector tobacco trade adv. cards, non insert
  • John Wagner, Harrisburg, Pa., specializing baseball and military subjects


The Bulletin of the Cartographic Society of Great Britain reports in February 1940 that new issues of cigarette cards are robust, averaging about 80 sets per year. However by the April 1940 issue, Burdick reports: “Due to the paper shortage cigarette cards are being entirely eliminated for the duration of the war.” Burdick covers the options for mounting cards. He believes that “some sort of pocket will be developed making it easier to remove cards for reading descriptive matter on the backs.”  Subscriber Alfred Phillipp also writes about mounting: “My chief satisfaction in card collecting as a hobby is the pleasure derived from the study and contemplation of these thousands of cards in sets, in subject matter and historical associations, or in the zest of watching the straggling odds eventually grow into complete sets. In other words, I like to look at my cards. So they are arranged permanently for exhibition purposes. I have tried, and discarded, every orthodox arrangement known, and have perfected a method of my own. 13,895 of my cards, all in complete sets, are now mounted on 441 Bristol-board show-cards, mostly with Nu-Ace Junior art corners.”


Advertisers include Lionel Carter looking to complete his T206 set, although at the time the set was called the #521 series. Burdick congratulates Carter “on his ‘Carter Council Chamber’ paper. Enterprise like this is good for the hobby.” Unfortunately neither Lionel nor I have (yet) been able to locate a copy of his short-lived publication. Burdick “solicits short articles on any card topic…. Literary ability is not essential but the subject should be interesting and helpful to collectors. No payment can be made.” Burdick issues subscribers a free 20-page supplement to the 1939 catalog thereby changing it to “a 1940 edition, bringing all listings up to date.” Burdick writes: “We have 3 objectives: to make card information available to all collectors – thus making collecting more interesting and a bit more organized; to give dealers the assistance they need to handle cards and cooperate with collectors; to assist card issuers in every possible way. We are making progress in all directions, but it is a bigger job than most realize, and we solicit all, and thank all, for any assistance.”


A Battle of Tights and Paintbrushes

Subscriber Harry Lilien reports his research on early tobacco cards and quotes from “George H. Duke/Master Builder by John Wilber Jenkins (G.H.Doran 1927). “Duke began to popularize his cigarettes in 1885 or 1886 by putting photographs of stage celebrities in each package. Then coupons were placed in the packages entitling the holder, for a given number, to a crayon picture of some historical notable…. Later pictures of baseball players, sovereigns, rulers, and flags of all nations were placed in cigarette packs. Boys began to make collections of cigarette pictures, to trade and preserve them, and the craze extended to every town and village…. While Duke sent out sign painters who blazoned the names of his products on walls, barns and billboards, Allen and Ginter stuck to tradition, putting in each package of cigarettes a bright picture of a lady in tights. It was a spectacular fight, a battle of tights and paintbrushes” Duke started manufacturing tobacco products in 1865 and began making cigarettes in 1882 by buying the newly invented cigarette-making machine. Burdick added: “It was hardly correct to imply that nearly all early cards showed actresses. (Certainly none of Burdick’s subscribers professed in their write-ups to have the slightest interest in actresses. They stuck to more wholesome subjects such as post cards showing Presbyterian Churches and tea tags.) One collector who remembers ‘way back when’ thinks A&G Flags of Nations came first. It is more probable that neither A&G nor Duke were the first issuers, and that the honor belongs to some small firm long since forgotten. Definite proof on the matter may never be established, but should be sought for.”


Lilien returns with three more articles after finding the trade magazine Tobacco. This journal was sent to retailers and reported card issues, albums, and censorship. Cards designed for the retailers to advertise cigarettes quickly evolved into insert cards put into the packs of 10 cigarettes. Information from 1887 and 1888 issues included: “Portraits of baseball players used to advertise Old Judge cigarettes attract much attention in the midst of the present baseball furor.” Lilien deduces that the photos (Old Judge) preceded the colored litho types (A&G). The small colored cards were issued at the same time as albums to hold the cards, but by 1892 were virtually eliminated. “The small flare-up of cards about 1899 were mostly issues with cigars.” Tobacco gives the dates of issue of various sets (mostly non-sport) that seemed to come out at a rate on one new set per week in 1888, 1889 and 1890. (Sound familiar?) Censors in Charleston, Chicago, and Atlanta go after the tobacco companies for the use of such cards as “Harry’s Girl,” suggestive descriptions, “photos in the semi-nude (actually, all the girls wore tights in those days),” and the like. Tobacco reported “this is a dangerous piece of business.” The Atlanta city council passed a strong prohibition against “such obscene, vulgar, or licentious pictures.” You would think the baseball themed cards would be safe, but apparently those lewd issuers put together the best of both worlds by depicting actresses or young women who worked at the cigarette factory in tights playing baseball. One set was called the “Black Stocking Nine” and another the “Polka Dot Nine.” Wild stuff.




The Bulletins of 1941 and the Possibility of War

Burdick reports that Dixie Lids has a new issue of Defend America series showing various units of the Army and Navy and that in Canada St. Lawrence Starch Co. has a series of hockey stars. “All these current issues should be gotten before becoming obsolete.” Good advice. The outbreak of war for the U.S. is still nine months away as Burdick writes: “It is a peculiarity of hobbies that slack conditions are conducive to their growth and vice versa. Right now, with the National Defense Program getting well under way, the usual situation is one of too little spare time. Dozens of letters mention that fact, and it has doubtlessly curtailed nearly all lines of collecting….Thus far we see no changes which will effect the Bulletin as scheduled, except that work on it must be started earlier.”


Burdick resists including any personal information in the Bulletin for 20 plus years, but he is suffering from the effects of crippling arthritis and will be classified as a 4-F 41 year-old when the war comes. The 24 year-old Lionel Carter had already been drafted and sent to the 112th Horse Cavalry Regiment of the U.S. Army. Burdick reports that Carters Council Chamber hobby publication has consequently (as it turns out - permanently) suspended operation. Carter reports “at the end of my year of service, I shall be pleased to hear from all my friends.” The year turned into over four years. Burdick later writes that when Carter’s publication resumes the “Bulletin will have outlived its period of usefulness, and growing aged and decrepit, will gladly step aside and pass the torch to younger and more active publication. (The Bulletin kept going another 40 years.) Editor Carter also hopes to establish a real exchange proposition – something vitally needed…. Many times in the past a card club has been proposed but has been tabled due to sheer lack of time.”


The April 1941 Bulletin covers three sets of recently discovered mint “Abdul Tobacco” non-sports cards. The backs of the cards include a copyright date of 1881. “The copyright attracts notice as this is 5 or 6 years before such cards are believed to come into use.” Burdick investigates and gives several reasons why this issue may be a fake including the observation that they would have failed to comply with the requirements of the copyright law in effect at the time. Although he acknowledges that the 1881 date may have been the date the “Abdul” name was copyrighted and not the date of the card issue. Always the gentleman, Burdick adds: “This represents the charitable viewpoint.” Also: “There may have been strong temptation to produce some ‘rare early’ cards.” In the process Burdick also writes “nearly all old sets were in series of 50 – that being the number of packs in a carton. Originally a carton contained a full set but that practice was abandoned after awhile.”


Burdick reports on using cellophane for mounting cards: “A plan adopted by some is crystal mounts, a prepared cellophane tubing made in various sizes especially for blocks of postage stamps. They fit many sizes of cards and are said to be injurious to paper and printing. Your better cards deserve the cost of much better mounting…. Tests by the National Bureau of Standards show that any type of celluloid or cellophane is harmful for use as protective coverings. However, the best grade of cellulose acetate is recommended and is being used to protect documents in the National Archives…. Still we suggest that collectors test to determine results under varying degrees of heat, moisture, pressure, and to make certain that they obtain the correct grade of material.” (Where have we read of these same issues in plastic sheets?)


Wagner on Wagner

The Bulletin has been running Howard Myers’ still accurate 1938 checklist of the “#521 Series” (T206s) and Burdick writes: “The scarcest cards are Plank and Wagner. Amounts of 50 cents and $1.00 are being offered for these. All Southern Leagues are also uncommon and worth 5 cents to 10 cents each according to condition. A few others are also worth premium rates.” These prices are a bit academic in that there weren’t a lot of Planks and Wagners to sell – neither Burdick nor Carter had one. I don’t imagine you could have actually picked up the pair for $1.50 anyway in 1941.


Subscriber John P. Wagner reported that on August 12, 1941, the Pittsburgh Pirates played a game in his hometown against the Harrisburg, Pa. Senators and “I had the great pleasure of talking with old Honus Wagner. The lowdown on the cigarette card is that he would not let them put his picture on such cards since he did not think an athlete should smoke. I found the old boy is still pretty active and he gave me his autograph with fancy scrolls and letters due to our name similarity. I am sure glad to get the straight dope on this long unverified statement.” John Wagner went on to collect two Honus Wagner cards and gave one of them to Burdick in the 1950s so that it could be added to Burdick’s donation to the Metropolitan Museum. The two Wagners were about the same age at the time, 44. “Old boy” indeed! Burdick added: “It would seem that a few of the cards must have been issued before his edict became known. A second copy was found recently, also three more of Plank, the runner up in the short column. We wonder why the Plank shortage – in a 350 series.” Every other page of these Bulletins from the early 1940s seemed to have a golden nugget like this.


Wirt Gammon contributes a newspaper clipping: “Wagner refused $1,000 a week to go in vaudeville with Cobb and Lajoie. ‘I’m no actor.’ John Gruber, late official scorer in Pittsburgh was offered $10 for a picture of Wagner that could be put in cigarette packages. Gruber wrote Wagner, received this reply: ‘Dear John: I don’t want my picture in cigarettes, but I don’t want you to lose $10, so I’m enclosing a check for that sum.’ Gruber framed the check.”



The first issue after Pearl Harbor is February 1, 1942. Burdick writes: “WAR. Since our last issue the United States has become engaged in active warfare and, without doubt, there will be numerous resulting effects on even such a minor activity as our card collecting hobby. More collectors will be entering the Services, and other like the writer, will be putting increased time into defense production work. No one, in these days, will argue against the benefits and needs of hobbies, even in war time, although as to their importance, there is full agreement that the war needs must at all times be given every possible consideration at the expense of all else. The Bulletin hopes to continue regular publication but nothing can be assured as needed spare time may not be available if war continues. Our English collectors continue their hobby despite war conditions that surpass anything yet in this country.” To prove the point that the hobby will go on subscriber Bernard Keeves “pens an interesting letter which was 88 days in reaching us from his service station in South India. He reports that India has no card issues but that he picked up a large number in South Africa last July. The April 1940 issue was over six months in reaching him via London.”


Complaint Department

“VALUES. A book dealer in Maine writes us as follows: ‘Cigarette card collecting is a misleading hobby with no security of basis value. No one is interested in trading, buying or selling; and nothing is worth catalog prices to anyone. I’m disgusted.’ He sites an example which does not have quite the right ring to it…. We do think though that he has a mistaken viewpoint on the value of tobacco cards, and we feel sure that quite a number of collectors and dealers will be glad to purchase any lots of them that he may find, and on the basis of catalog prices.” Burdick discusses supply, demand, condition, lots, want lists, duplicates, dealers, and collectors. The examples used range from 1 cent to 10 cents per card.


Burdick on the Earliest Insert Cards

Having run several articles by Harry Lilien on the question of “What was the earliest insert card?” Burdick adds his thoughts in the February 1942 Bulletin. He comments on sources of information feeling that trade magazines from the period of issue are more reliable than magazines or articles written later. The least reliable source would be newspaper articles “in recent years as experience has indicated such writers all too often marshall an array of ‘facts’ which in reality are little more than the writer’s own guesses. It seems well established that the first inserts were of the photo actress type, being miniatures of similar larger cards which just previously had been extensively used for advertising purposes in shops and stores. These were soon followed by the colored lithographic cards of all sorts, although photos were used for years with some brands. Study of the careers of certain actresses and ball players will possibly reveal dates which can be connected with the card designs and so fix approximate dates. In only a few instances do the cards themselves bear dates. Many Goodwin baseball players are copyrighted 1887 and one small section of this series shows the Champions of 1886….Gold Coin colored cards are likewise copyrighted 1887 and were probably one of the first if not THE first, of the lithographed inserts. The most obvious sources of information are the tobacco firms themselves who issued the cards and the printing firms who made them.” Burdick states that not much concrete information has been found however and even the recollections of older collectors might not be accurate. “For instance, Mr. Clayton W. Rosencrance of Indiana writes: ‘My late father had a department store in Port Jervis, N.Y. and when I was 5 years old he handed me the first card and told me to save it as he would get others from salesmen and customers. I am now 65, so you see the collection began 60 years ago.’ That would have been 1880, as this letter was written in 1940. We daresay that this is all quite correct, but we think probably that 1880 card, and probably many others shortly thereafter, were the old advertising cards rather than inserts. They may have included many tobacco ads. Such cards were given out for nearly 20 years before inserts were first used and old scrap albums full of them made in the 70’s and 80’s are quite common.”   In a later issue Burdick reports on Thos. H. Hall tobacco cards as a likely 1880 issue with actresses (of course), a few athletes (oarsmen and pedestrians) and the 1880 candidates for President and Vice President.




The Hobby During WWII



Bray’s Small Ad

The 10 page April 1942 issue of The Card Collector’s Bulletin includes articles on the small number of new card issues, upgrading cards through exchanges, exhibit cards, book match covers, checklists of Obaks and Baseball Comics, a long editorial by Burdick on the lack of commercialism in the hobby and a short note that subscriber Charles Bray had purchased an old collection from someone in New Orleans and was offering it for sale. Bray ran a 5-line ad offering “mostly small 19th Century issues…at reasonable rates.” In this modest manner Bray began selling and later auctioning about any piece of cardboard under the sun through the Bulletin. To this point the largest advertising space in a Bulletin had been less than one page. Things were about to change. It was ironic that in Burdick’s editorial he applauded the lack of commercialism in the hobby “But guard must be kept, as commercialism like inflation creeps in without warning. Opinions may differ, but we believe that present conditions are for the best interest of the hobby and should not be changed.” The long editorial got his readers’ attention and in the next issue Burdick reported on the mostly favorable feedback from readers. Burdick begins hinting about his future involvement: “In spite of the many difficulties, we hope to continue publication during the war and thereafter as long as feasible. Quite a number of checklists still await publication although most of these are now of the scarcer sets not largely held by most collectors.”


Other excerpts:

  • “Our friend, Mr. Alfred O. Philipp, a strict cartophilist, pens us a fierce diatribe for suggesting that book match covers have anything in common with cigarette or gum cards…As a definer, we leave the field open. As a cataloger, we list everything and let all take their choice in collecting.”
  • “In case you haven’t heard it before – spend part of your spare cash on your hobby – BUT – with the rest – BUY U.S. WAR STAMPS AND BONDS.
  • The Exhibit Supply Company of Chicago has a current line of 40 sets of cards for a total of 1,760 cards while International Mutoscope Reel Co of Long Island City has a line of 25 sets of 32 cards each.
  • Burdick skeptically relays the report that the London Cigarette Card Co. has 60 million cards, 3,000 different complete sets, and “employs ten girls and an accountant.”
  • Variations are found in the Celebrated Indian Chiefs series issued by Allen & Ginter. In typical fashion Burdick researches the origins, development and scarcities in subsequent sets depicting Indians.
  • Burdick uses 2 ½ pages to suggest a method of sorting and organizing the massive quantities of  old actress cards” (the cards being old, not the actresses.) He recommends a rainy day to sort them by issuer, name, size, clothing, heads, hats etc. Actors are pretty easy to sort in that the girl/boy ratio in these cards is about 200 to 1.
  • Charles Bray runs an unprecedented one page ad selling complete sets of Allen & Ginter and Dukes insert cards in “excellent condition at reasonable rates.” He lists A&G World Champions Series #1. This issue known as N28 is from 1887. The set price of $3 was a bit less than the $5,000 current book value for just the 10 baseball players in the 50-card set.
  • James Colkitt of Los Angeles reports that want lists are not new and produces his insert card want list from 1891. “Even in those days the Colkitt collection of small 19th Century was in a most advanced stage.”
  • Subscriber B.K. Edwards reports purchasing the cigarette card collection of the late actor, John Barrymore.
  • Burdick continues his findings in researching Dixie Lids, the early tobacco companies and provides background on matchbook covers. Give Burdick a card and he will try to trace it back to when it was part of a tree.


Prices 1942 and 1943

In his spare time Burdick issues a 1942 supplement to the catalog. He explains the reason for increased prices and that he has had inquiries from people wanting to buy cards in large quantity at low rates. “Years ago it was possible to buy in that manner to some extent but today nearly everybody obtains at least a general idea of value before selling, and snap bargains are the exception.” (Sound familiar?) But then he goes on to report that: “During 1942 at least four collections have changed hands at $70 or more each.” (about $820 in today’s dollars). Burdick’s general guide at the time is that “selected items from want lists” and complete sets are selling for double catalog and a minimum of 5 cents per card. Short sets are at 1.5 times catalog and mixed lots and collections at catalog – except that harder to find cards in T206 for example are running $2 or even $3 each! Cutouts and actresses are of modest if any value. “Many collectors will pay a bonus for the last few cards needed to complete a set. In England the first and last cards of a set, in fine condition, are priced higher as being on the outside they are subject to more damage….In these days much is heard of the investment value of hobby material. It is a safe prediction that these cards will prove as good a value as any. There will always be a strong interest in them and values have been gradually rising in a healthy manner. Any good collection if properly handled should eventually realize as good returns as the better stocks and bonds. Values seem surely destined to go considerably above their present levels with the next few years.” Jefferson Burdick, December 1942.


In 1943 Burdick writes: “The Bulletin does not customarily devote great space to the matter of prices, but at present they are prime topics in all lines…The current season has been notable for the unusual quantity of cards which have been offered collectors. This has been due to the considerable advertising done by collectors and what we may call a streak of collectors luck- fulfilling the ‘never rains but it pours’ adage. While we believe that untold numbers of old cards are still hiding in old stored collections, the recent rate of turn-up is not liable to continue, and the general trend, we believe, will be for supplies to gradually decrease in the coming years….We cannot emphasize too strongly that present rates are real opportunities for collectors.”


A few months later Burdick writes: “In these days we hear about a 30 cent dollar and while the actual purchasing power of a dollar may not have shrunk by 70%, it is quite evident that there is a material shrinkage. Government price controls on most of the necessities of life have kept their prices from rocketing. (Remember the high prices of World War I)…There is the probability that decreasing (card) supplies will be coupled with greater demand from at least two types: soldiers returning to civil life and resuming their collecting, and the increase in foreign demand when the present financial restrictions are removed and normal free trade is resumed…Card collecting is an international hobby.”


Readers in Service

War news on hobbyists: Lionel Carter checks in from Fort Clark, Texas and is packing up for overseas duty. He writes: “Whether it be Australia, Panama, or Alaska; Private Carter is on his way to make the world safe for card collecting.” “Two Connecticut collectors, Edward Golden and Samuel Tanenbaum, are now with the Army Air Corps in training at Miami Beach, Florida. Hugh Johnson of Bowling Green has received a commission in the Navy and expects an early call to service….Lt. Lawrence Kuzrock is now on the Navy Medical staff. Pvt Steve Vanco of Chicago is at Fort Knox, Ky….Sgt. John Wagner finds time in a busy recruiting and induction life to add several more names to the American Caramel Baseball Series…Mr. Warshaw of the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana has stored his vast collection and is at an Army training camp in Georgia”…English collector William Brooks “will be pleased to meet and entertain any Bulletin reader who may be serving with American forces in England…The Medicos say Ye Editor is 4F and we trust it is due to physical reasons rather than mental although there may be complications.” This is about the only reference that I found about Burdick’s crippling arthritis.


Hobby Recollections of the 1880s

In the December 1943 issue subscriber C.G. Sturtevant recalls his card collecting days as a youth in the 1880s. “I clearly remember my enthusiasm in collecting picture cards of all kinds. Many were the advertising giveaways, and for those we used to worry the drug and drygood stores about crazy. Thread companies and patent medicine firms had a big variety. Unground coffee had many series. Many were the sources of cards gotten free….By the summer of 1888 I had accumulated a couple of thousand which I kept more or less assorted in shoe boxes. Constant handling caused wear but was preferred to pasting in albums. During the summer of 1888 a collector showed me several of the small tobacco or cigarette cards of flags and rulers. Ours was a small town where cigarettes were not sold, which accounts for my not seeing them until about two years after they had appeared in other places.” Moving to a cigarette-using town, Sturtevant quickly gathered the tobacco inserts left behind in stores even arranging with store owners to give him all the cards left behind in the store. “I cannot begin to tell you what a fine lot of cards I received here during the winter of 1888-1889.” The cards multiplied, were put in cigar boxes with rubber bands, but eventually were completely soaked by a driving rainstorm. He turned to stamps but then swapped them all with a boy from the East who had a great box of mostly Allen & Ginter cards. But quickly they stopped inserting cards, Sturtevant entered the Army and returned home to find “relatives and other kids had left little of my collections. Throughout the years since I had often thought of the cards and became much interested when the Card Catalog was published. I cannot again recover my losses and so must confine myself to mostly recollections and reminiscences.”


Auctions, etc.

Partial checklists of certain tobacco sets are provided thanks to the joint efforts of readers Bray, Wagner, Van Brakle, Gammon, Ross and Wise….Burdick also writes about advertising cards, the various Allen & Ginter sets,  and foreign cards, particularly Canadian and English cards in that Burdick subscribes to some of their publications (Cigarette Card News and Cartophilic World) and has a number of English subscribers to the Bulletin.


The first of what will be many obituaries of long-time collectors appears in August 1943, that of James N. Colkitt of Los Angeles. He had the 1891 want list. Lionel Carter wrote an article for the Bulletin in 1969 shedding light on Colkitt’s collection: “It was the death of Mr. Colkitt that prompted the first Card Mail Sale in October 1943. Mr. Colkitt collected only small 19th century cards, and the sale of his collection was handled by Jeff Burdick who broke the collection into 71 lots. The entire collection was purchased by one collector for slightly over $400, but the name of the collector was never made known as Mr. Burdick noted: ‘No publicity is desired at this time.’ (Most of the complete sets went at $4 or $5.) Due to ill health, Mr. Alfred O. Phillipp then offered his collection for sale in February 1944 and this sale was (the first) handled by Charles R. Bray.” Burdick was disappointed himself that the Colkitt collection went to one bidder. He received a bit of heat from his subscribers and was probably delighted that Bray took over any future mail bid sales that Burdick described as “more work and a bigger headache.” With a flurry of bidding activity and considerable interest among collectors the Andrew Phillipp collection went to 21 different bidders. Bray reported: “All of the baseball cards were in great demand and brought good prices.” (like up to $15 for 19th century tobacco sets.) Another “enthusiastic and colorful card collector” who offered to help on the first catalog, B.K. Edwards died September 1943.


Other notes of interest in the “war” Bulletins:

  • “In these days it is common to hear ‘I haven’t had time’ and everyone should bear in mind that this is true of most card hobbyists. Many Bulletin readers we know are working in war industries, some even seven days a week and without vacations.” (Most likely Burdick himself)
  • Complete past issues of the Bulletin are now entirely gone. “No reprints are possible.” (No copy machines either.)
  • A March 12, 1944 article in the Philadelphia Record covers the Wagner card. “We (Burdick) are still looking for the Wagner card but would hate to pay the amount which the writer says it is worth. Mention of our name in the article has resulted in our receiving about a dozen letters…More articles in the press like this are needed. Why not arrange for one in your local paper?”
  • “As far as we know there are no cards being issued anywhere at present, except possibly a very few in Canada.”
  • Burdick vacations in New York City and meets with three leading dealers: Burton, Rothschild and Warshaw, and collectors: Mrs. Hills, Mrs. Landauer, Lt. Kurzrok, and Charles Bray. He is unsuccessful in finding two collections supposedly at the New York Public Library or in getting assistance from them on research. 


Looking for Cards in 1944

In August 1944 The Bulletin returns to 6 pages that are 8 ½ by 11 rather than 10 half-sized pages. Gum cards in the last auction brought only about 1/3rd of catalog. Burdick predicts that they will increase in value and popularity in coming years. He suggests buying in lots rather than just going after want list items in that you can upgrade sets and get something for your duplicates, perhaps putting them back in the next auction. Readers have noted the difficulty in finding that final card or two for a set. Burdick describes similar experiences and logically attributes it to the last cards issued in a long series (high numbers), errors and corrections (the initial error is usually scarcer), and advises to never give up the search – it is what makes collecting interesting. He also says that you undoubtedly will be taking chances in buying certain lots, but that the pleasant surprises outweigh the unpleasant ones. He surmised that despite the interest in cards that many are still going the way of “the current scrap paper drives.” Bray organizes the 4th Mail Card Sale with 131 lots from various owners. A set of 12 bidding rules is added.


The War Draws to a Close

Catalogs are out of print and Burdick advises that there won’t be another until after the war because of paper and printing shortages. He also feels that the numbering system will have to be redone. (T206s are still known as the #521 Series.) Burdick updates the status of certain subscribers in service or returning from service, including Lionel Carter. “After three long years fighting in the South Pacific, PFC Carter was home in November (1944) and we enjoyed a fine letter from him just before he left for reassignment.”  Wirt Gammon has an article on baseball cards in the Sporting News. Walt Corson has a detailed article on Baseball Blankets and the years of issue. Charles Barker’s name appears for the first time in August 1945 reporting the existence of ballpark souvenir sets.


As the war is about to end Burdick describes his trip by train to see “the Charles Brays, whose beautiful home has become a rendezvous for Eastern collectors for more reasons than a mutual interest in cards….We recommend this trip down the Lackawanna Trail of Eastern Pennsylvania for its beauty and pleasure, either way by train or auto. The mining sections, the mountains, and at the end, the Delaware Water Gap, are things that all should see. Pulling over the high Poconos, the smooth gliding train, the changing scenic panorama, with an undertone of rhythmic puffing of two powerful locomotives make a touching combination.” I drove through this area of Pennsylvania for the first time a few days before finishing this article and could easily see what inspired Burdick to take time and to enjoy the moment.


The Bulletin made it through World War II without missing an issue, still at 30 cents per year, still with Burdick writing nearly every word. There is yet to be a photo, drawing or anything other than typed pages duplicated onto whatever paper was available; but it was all great stuff.



                     1945 to 1953 – Burdick to Bray


World War II ends and The Card Collector’s Bulletin keeps rolling. The December 1945 issue includes the recollections of Harry Lepman as a boy in the 1910s: flipping, matching, 20 cigar boxes full of cards. Other subscribers remember blowing, twirling and other ways of winning cards. Burdick recalls cards that came with chewing tobacco got sandwiched while in the bag and frequently came “mint” but bent. The Bulletin has grown to 14 pages and Burdick returns money to a number of advertisers that he didn’t have room for in the publication. Lionel Carter is just back from the Pacific and runs a full-page want list ad offering to pay 5 cents per card. Paul Masser offers $25 for a Wagner.


1946 Catalog

A new catalog is now possible and is scheduled for release in 1946, 7 years after the first catalog. Seven years becomes the schedule for future catalogs: 1953 and 1960. In typical fashion, Burdick shares all financial information about the catalog with his readers: 128 pages, 1,250 copies, cost around $1,000. A catalog will sell for 75 cents but they will throw in a year subscription to the Bulletin. Advertising revenue gets the catalog to a breakeven, eventually, in that it will take awhile to sell 1,250 copies. Burdick introduces the T,E,C nomenclature and the American Card Catalog comes out as Burdick predicted albeit with a few errors and omissions which are reported. The October 1946 issue mentions: “Resumption of card issues is said to depend only on the availability of paper stock and collectors are trying to clear their decks in preparation for these first post war issues.”


Variations, etc.

The December 1946 Bulletin has an article on “varieties and errors.” Burdick’s observations include:

·        Variations can be caused by printer’s waste that erroneously reaches the public, the correction of errors, or intentional changes in design during the process

·        Reprints include A&G plates reused in 1912 for early candy cards

·        Counterfeits – “If new plates are made and exact copies of originals attempted, we have imitations, facsimiles, counterfeits and other bogus productions. These can usually be detected by careful examination but so far nothing has occurred in this line as far as known. The high cost of such work, plus risk of detection, make it a hazardous undertaking.”


Burdick reports his trip to Chicago where he tried to visit every subscriber and hobbyist… Insert cards for tobacco products have been delayed because of the post war paper shortages both in the U.S. and England…A collector sent a deposit to a “Mrs. Brooks of Minneapolis for a big card collection she was going to send. Nothing arrived, and an inquiry came back marked ‘moved, no address.’ This is an old racket, but its first trial in cards, as far as we know.” (It did not prove to be the last.)….Each issue now includes an auction of cards by Charles Bray. There might be 250 lots with 40 to 80 cards typically in each lot. Sports cards are a relatively modest portion of the cards auctioned, but Bray reports that “the boys are bidding up those pretty good.”


Early Tobacco Inserts

C.G. Sturtevant returns with his scholarly findings on the early tobacco cards based on a “Cigarette Photo” article in an 1887 amusement journal. Considerable fuss is made over the revealing “leg-art” pictures of “ballet girls” on A&G insert cards. If you’ve seen some of these cards, you noticed that the legs were quite ample. Large sized photos were originally used to help market the cigarettes and evolved into smaller versions inserted into packs. Anthony Comstock was on his high horse to protect “small boys” from such leg-art lewdness. The net effect was to put pressure on the manufacturers to eliminate the “revealing photos.” The photos did “their job of popularizing cigarettes and manufacturers could carry on (in 1886) with designs which would break no laws” – like baseball players.


Burdick chips in again with his research on this continuously pursued interest in the earliest tobacco inserts. He finds a Frank Leslie Illustrated Magazine of 1883 that covers a visit to the Allen & Ginter factory in Richmond, Virginia. In 1874 they produced “2.5 million cigarettes, while in 1882 it was 550 million (compare with today’s 430 billion). The Industry was second only to cotton in the South.” Cigarette roller girls packed the boxes for wages of $4.50 per week. “The earliest known Virginia Bright cardboard boxes of 10 bear the inscription ‘Crop of 1884’ and so must have come into use about 2 years afterward…Insert cards are not mentioned, although a few may have been used (in 1883), such as photos of Cigarette Making Girls and some Little Beauties issues.”


Burdick Decides to Donate His Collection

In December 1947 Burdick announces in the Bulletin that he has decided to donate his collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City citing: uncertain physical condition, no immediate survivors, and a desire to see his collection preserved and expanded as a research tool for the hobby. The Met is chosen because of its location and the enthusiasm of the curator of the Print Department, A. Hyatt Mayor. Burdick guesses that it will take him 3 or 4 years to organize and deliver the collection to the museum. It took over 15 years. Also Mayor’s enthusiasm is not infectious with his successors. Mayor writes Burdick that “As far as I can see, your collection, once it is mounted, will always be open to anyone.” That is certainly not the experience collectors have had in recent years in many unsuccessful efforts to see the collection.


Burdick regularly updates Bulletin readers on the status of the transfer of the collection. Long-time subscribers such as John Wagner, Howard Paul, Fanny Traynor, Harry Kenworthy, Paul Masser, Howard Myers and Samuel Tanenbaum begin assisting Burdick in his efforts to complete various sets prior to sending them to the museum. Burdick seeks additional help because he is “too busy to keep up with collectors in the baseball field.” He is looking to add 2 Fatima team cards, a host of Obaks, Old Mills, Red Suns, Contentnea, Ramly and similar issues. He then finds that another brand has popped up on the T206s – Ty Cobb Tobacco, unknown to the hobby until nearly 1950. He runs want list ads in the Bulletin offering to buy cards that he needs. He is not expecting too much in that his “wants are pretty tough propositions” with many obscure or perhaps non-existent cards on the list.


In October 1948 Burdick reports that John Wagner has given him an extra Hans Wagner card in order to complete his T206 collection to be sent to the Met. Burdick is thrilled in that he had sought this card for many years. “This is the original ‘discovery’ card which Mr. Wagner first spotted among his duplicates. Early lists of the set did not mention this title and it came near being traded off without being noticed. Since then one or two others have been found but the card remains in such demand that several copies could easily be sold at the catalog value of $25 or more.” In the same paragraph Burdick is also enthused to be back organizing the actress cards into 2,037 varieties.


Concurrently Burdick works on the next Catalog and updates, trying to get copies of sets such as Sport Kings extra large R340. He also begins work on a small pamphlet as an index of cards at the museum. It isn’t fully developed for another 13 years, but as with most of his initiatives it is finally printed and is used at the museum’s print room to this day.


Actresses Slow Down Burdick

The vast numbers of photo actresses in the tobacco cards slow Burdick down in his efforts to ship early tobacco inserts. He sends 13,590 actress cards to the Met. Mayor and Burdick also find that it is going to be complex to properly mount the collection in albums. Burdick later reports that they (Theodore Starr of the print department) would be pasting the cards into the albums if there were no descriptions on the back even though he wouldn’t recommend this for a private collection. The “museum cards, of course, will never be sold or removed from the albums.” The pasting job apparently is hard to staff in that a few years later “Mr. Starr could not continue and Mr. Mayor has been unable to find anyone to take his place….No cellophane has yet been employed but this can be added later if desired, and a suitable type can be found.” A few years later Burdick rationalizes in the Bulletin that “The mounting, unfortunately was begun years ago before the cellophane era and consists of merely pasting on blank album pages. This will seem ruinous to some collectors, but all can be saved if at some future time it is necessary to remount. A moment’s dip in water and all will come free and undamaged. To show the better way, one album uses cellophane. I found genuine acetate very expensive and too thick, and regular moisture-proof cellophane is now off the market.”


On March 10, 1948, Harry Lilien of New York City announces the formation of the “Card Collectors Society.” Meetings are to be held monthly at the home of Dr. Lawrence Kurzrok. Dues are $1 for 6 months. Most of the long-time subscribers like Carter, Lilien, Corson, Lancaster, and Van Brakle are still running large ads looking for cards on their wantlists. In August 1948 Corson advertises the sale of his Collector’s Haven store in Philadelphia and his 30,000 cards. “I do not like indoor work and wish to get back in the auction business,” he explains. Auctions must have been outdoors in those days…Burdick reports that the 1949 Bowmans “are said to be available from certain dealers and printers in sheet form at low prices….only time will disclose the real situation and values.”


Charles Bray Becomes Bulletin Editor

The big news in the June 1949 issue is that Burdick is turning over the Bulletin to Charles Bray who had taken over the auction portion of the Bulletin several years earlier. “Mentally I have enjoyed it (putting out 60 issues over the past 10 years). Physically, however, it has been a bit different and many issues have been gotten out under somewhat distressful conditions. I have been bothered considerably (the master of understatement) by chronic arthritis, and in recent years it has precluded any unnecessary activities….all in all, I am not in proper condition to continue magazine publication.” He will contribute articles in the future and asks others to do so as well to help Charles Bray, a “square shooter.” Burdick later confided that in the 1950s the new drug of cortisone helped delay what he imagined would be a crippling disability. In the last 20-page issue of the 1940s, Burdick uses one page to update readers on the 40,000 cards he has sent so far to the Metropolitan Museum, Bray lists 378 items in the 35th mail auction on 8 pages, advertising for cards covers 7 pages, and Bray writes one page.


The Early 1950s

In the early 1950s a few writers other than Burdick start to contribute to the Bulletin. Walt Corson writes about the minor leaguers in the T206 set with finally some references to the players themselves. Charles Bray describes his visit to the hobby museum of O.C. Lightner, the late editor of Hobbies Magazine. Bray also reports on the 1951 Topps Connie Mack All Stars being the result of substituting Connie Mack for Ty Cobb, “because Cobb would not allow his picture to be used.” Also 1951 Bowmans omit most of the big stars of the day. Burdick announces the publication of the Tobacco War Booklet by Wharton-Tigar, a superb job of research on cards from around the world. 


A refreshing ad is run by subscriber Lowrance Swayze looking to trade 1950 and 1951 Bowman baseball and football: “I am just a poor collector who’s trying to keep from buying any more bubble gum than he has to.” Buck Barker runs an ad apologizing to all his friends “if I have any left. If I don’t then the apology is directed to my former friends. I am not dead. I have not been actively collecting for several years. In fact my collection is in storage. However, I will be back someday, and I hope that I will be forgiven. Charles ‘Buck’ Barker, Baseball Collector.” The collection of the late W.J. Christie is auctioned by Bray with suggested prices of $14.63 for a T205 set, Mecca double folder set for $3.50, a 1948 Bowman baseball set for $1.34, a 1950 Bowman baseball set for $5.52, and a 1941 Playball set for $2.02 – just typical junk cards at extravagant prices.


The 1953 Catalog

Burdick announces plans for a 168-page 1953 Catalog that will be priced at $2 with 1,400 copies printed. The staff consists of Burdick as Managing Editor, Bray as Associate Editor in charge of Prices, Gene DeNardo as Associate Editor in charge of Copy Revisions, and Woody Gelman the Associate Editor in charge of Advertising and Publication. John Wagner contributes artwork including drawings for the Catalog Stationery. The staff meets on May 12, 1952 and takes the classic photo of the foursome, only the second photo to ever appear in the Bulletin. In August 1952 Burdick attends the Hobby Club Convention at the Morrison Hotel run by Hobbies Magazine with “extensive card exhibits and hundreds of collectors from Maine to California.” While in Chicago he meets Lionel Carter for the first time after 15 years of corresponding. Carter recalls it today as a memorable collecting experience in that he had long been an admirer of Burdick. Carter drives Burdick around Chicago to various appointments in that Burdick did not drive. He also meets with Larry Brandt, Ralph Decker, Windy City Post Card Club folks, and calls on the Exhibit Supply Co. This trip is typical for Burdick. In 1952 he “traveled over 3,000 miles to interview leading collectors and dealers from all parts of the country.” Burdick makes progress adding many cards to the collection with thanks to: Wharton-Tigar, Bray, Gelman, John Dowling, Larry Brant, L.W. Ball, Harrold Ross, Bob and Dick Jones among others.


Bray takes the opportunity in the October 1952 issue to discuss pricing in the Catalog. “A lot of people think that because a card is seventy years old it is, ipso facto, a valuable item. It is a valuable item, only if the quantity of surviving copies is considerably less than the collectors who want them and are willing to pay a good price to obtain them….Every group, set and card has to be considered individually in the light of the particular factors which most influence its value.” Sets will continue to be priced at a significant (50%) premium over the price of the individual cards. Of course, all the individual cards are priced the same with no particularly distinction for high numbers or stars.


In a 1953 issue Lionel Carter returns with an article on the front page thanking Burdick (“Thanks to a Grand Guy”) for his great work in putting out the 1953 Catalog and his past efforts. Carter writes: “When I started collecting baseball cards in 1933, I thought I was alone in the hobby until I was introduced by Edward Golden to Mr. Burdick’s ‘Card Collectors Bulletin’ in the spring of 1938. From that moment, my interest zoomed, my collection flourished. The first catalog proved an inspiration, the second saving my interest in the backwash of the war service. Moving to Chicago in 1946, The American Card Catalog brought me for the first time into personal contact with other cards collectors; fine fellows with whom I can share my elation over a rare find, fellows who share my thrills at sporting events. It is highly unlikely that your own fortunes in the card collecting field have varied greatly from own; your prosperity in friends and cards is due to the efforts of Mr. Burdick.”



The Rest of the Story

Other Early Hobby Publications and

The Card Collector’s Bulletin from 1953 to 1984


This series started as the history of hobby publications. Until the early 1950s the history of the hobby publications and the history of The Card Collector’s Bulletin were pretty much the same. However in January 1951 Bob Jasperson’s Sport Fan appeared. The publishers were Helen and Bob Jasperson of St. Paul, Minnesota. Most issues were nicely typeset, well written and targeted to sports fans and collectibles although not necessarily cards. Wirt Gammon wrote a monthly article and Lionel Carter later contributed as well. Jasperson tried to organize a national convention in Chicago in 1956. without a mention by the Bulletin. It wasn’t until 1955 that Lionel Carter reported in the Bulletin that he had discovered Sport Fan. How had Sport Fan escaped previous recognition by Bulletin readers? Bob’s son Mike has remained active in the hobby and would do a much better job than I can of telling the rest of the Sport Fan story.


Other Hobby Publications

A want ad in a 1969 Bulletin gave me many names of other early hobby publications. Subscriber O.A.Alley, Jr. was looking for The American Card Collector, Association of Sports Collectors – Bulletin, The Autograph Hobbyists, Baseball Card Hobbiest, Card Comments, The Card Hobbyists, Card News and Comments, Diamond Dust, The Foul Tip, Grandstand Manager, Hobbys to Enjoy, Sport Collector, Hobby Enthusiast, Sport Fan Who’s Who, Autograph News, Sport Fan, Sport Hobbyist, The Sports Exchange, The Sports Exchange Trading Post, The Sports Journal, The Sports Line, The Trader Speaks, Treasure Magazine, The Trading Card Gazette, and Western Hobby News. Everyone seemed to have their own preference for the plurals of Hobby and Hobbyist. As you can see from O.A. Alley’s list there were many enthusiastic and sometimes short-lived publications by collectors and dealers starting in the 1940s. Many of them were undoubtedly superior to the Bulletin in its later years.


Collector Dave Hornish provided me information on the Sports Exchange Trading Post from a 1987 SCD article by Richard Miller. John Seifert of Youngstown, Ohio published the Trading Post beginning in 1945. It had photos (!) and covered collecting scorecards, autographs, books and cards. They even issued their own set of cards listed in the SCD Standard Catalog as “1946-49 Sports Exchange All-Star Picture Files” and the “1947 Sports Exchange Baseball Miniatures.” Vintage hobby publication collector Richard Rubin provided me a copy of the September 1945 issue. This issue was professionally printed, included cartoons, ads and a drawing of Chuck Workman of the Boston Braves – a “Drake’s Sports Pin-Up.” They advertised they were “looking for regular contributors…and will pay $2.50 in war stamps for each story accepted.” They also wanted “all copy to be original!” Presumably they would also take copies of original copy.


Uncle Bob and other Editors

Richard Rubin also provided copies of several other publications from the 1940s and 1950s. Most publications tended to be more like baseball team fan club newsletters geared to a young audience. Issues were a few typed pages, probably mimeographed. There were limited references to collectibles such as programs and guides. For example, Diamond Dust began in 1945 with articles on major league baseball players and teams. Ned Catrone was the “club” president. The ad section included subscribers looking for autographs, scorecards, books, pictures, pennants but not too many cards since none had been issued since 1941. Baseball Parade also started in 1945. It was edited semi-monthly by Russell Weston of LaCanada, California and had at least six contributors who seemed to be aspiring sportswriters. A few issues were missed “because of a serious illness in the editorial offices” (an apparent early case of a sick office) and they “would like any ideas, improvements and criticism that the reader has.” Some of these publications from the early 1940s I would describe as embarrassing (Baseball Data); others were atrocious (The Double Play). It didn’t take much to get into the sports publication business. A high school junior, Dave Webb, edited World of Sports from 1949. The problem was staying in business. I didn’t find any names of Bulletin subscribers or serious old-time collectors in these publications. Their subscribers seemed to be in different circles. One of the better-looking publications I found was Issue Number 1 from 1949 of The Collector published by Bowman Gum, Inc., Philadelphia. The editor was “Uncle Bob in care of Bowman Gum” and the purpose of the publication was clearly to promote Bowman products to young collectors but it was pretty good stuff. You could join the Picture Card Collectors Club that was “dedicated to the advancement of child, church, home, school, and community through the fellowship and interest of cartophily” not to mention selling Bowman gum.  It would be interesting to trace the history of many of these publications. However, in order to finish this series in our lifetimes I am forced to restrict this article to continuing the story of The Card Collector’s Bulletin after 1953.


Back to the Bulletins of 1953

In 1953 legendary English collector E.C. Wharton-Tigar provided a two-page article. He had met with Burdick, Bray and Canadian S.C. Hall. He considered Burdick’s 1953 catalog to be “a land mark in world cartophilic progress.” He noted that in the U.S. he observed “a strong contingent of collectors of cards dealing with baseball subjects.” (Pretty observant.) In April 1953 Walt Corson wrote there were probably thousands of cards that had never been seen and in some cases there were known sets where not a single card had been found. He wondered whether there weren’t some other unknown scarce cards out there in the T206 set in addition to Wagner, Plank, and Magie. Howard Myers compiled the original checklist in May 1938 and there had been no additions to the list since. Corson found that while some minor league teams had 2 players each in the set, others in the same or comparable leagues had none. Corson felt that there might have been as many as 28 cards issued for these “missing” teams. Corson counted 523 cards at the time. The Sports Collectors Digest 2004 Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards lists 524. The extra card appears to be the Cobb with the Ty Cobb brand back that I don’t think Corson counted although Burdick reported its existence in a 1948 Bulletin. Myers did quite a job in check listing this set 66 years ago.


Need any Recent Topps for Double Last Year’s Price?

In 1953 Sam Rosen of New York City ran the first ad I saw offering 1952 Topps at 2 cents each, except the high numbers were 5 cents. 1951 Red and Blue backs were both $1 a set. Rosen was Woody Gelman’s stepfather and passed away 5 years later. In January 1955 Lionel Carter returned with a nice article on recent baseball cards. Buck Barker discovered Walt Dropo as a 7th card in the 1951 Topps All Stars set. Kiner was still to be discovered as well as the 3 unissued (with gum) cards of National Leaguers Konstanty, Roberts and Stanky. There were only 2 outfielders in Connie Mack’s 1951 All Stars in that Cobb refused to allow his name to be used. Carter reported on the Sports Illustrated insert cards that added 12 more of the 1954 Yankees to bring the total to 27 players. The Carters visited Burdick in Syracuse that year, remembering Burdick living in a modest apartment and having great difficulty getting around due to the arthritis. Carter was entirely up to date on the “explosion” of regional sets in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s and encouraged collectors to pick up the Johnston Cookies, Glendales, Wilsons, Remars, Red Hearts, etc. while they lasted. Carter wrote an article “Baseball Cards” for Hobbies Magazine – a good 20 years after Burdick’s first article for Hobbies.


Buck Barker contributed a fact-packed, breathless article continuing the baseball theme. He recalled the Goudey Fine and Wide Pens were given out by storekeepers with the Batter-Ups and Puzzle cards. You got a card, gum, and a large card thrown in all for 1 cent. He followed with another “breathless” article on baseball card errors and variations and yet another recalling the early days of the Bulletin, noting many of the things I did in the initial article in this series.


Woody Gelman added a short note in April 1956 that, by the way, Topps had purchased Bowman and “plans to issue long series of baseball gum cards continuing with Bowman novelty gum production. Their plans are to produce more issues of cards in their expanding business.” In June 1956 APBA Game Company ran a full-page ad announcing their new card game. Write for details and a free card of Duke Snider. The Catalog was sold out, required updating, and a 1956 revision to the 1953 Catalog was announced.


The Late 1950s

In February 1957 Walt Corson recalled collecting strip cards “beginning in 1921 until the supply became exhausted several years ago.” They were given away with candy purchases. Most strip cards were issued by Underwood and Underwood or International Feature Service. Corson had the foresight to collect and retain them despite their relative unpopularity. By December 1957 Corson reported that he has had an operation for cancer and was selling his collection of over 300,000 cards in which there were 616 different complete sets. He had already sold $2,400 worth of baseball cards….In June 1957 Charles Brooks advertised his monthly The Sports Hobbyist publication….In April 1958 Barker was back with comments on key players missing in baseball sets. He even wrote a letter to Stan Musial telling him that he owed the kids a chance to get his picture. Musial then appeared in the last series of 1958. Barker gave a detailed breakdown of the players included in the T205 and T206 sets. The T206 minor leaguers were issued a good year after the 150 Series backs of early 1909. He contributed many articles with an exhausting wealth of information, all focused on baseball cards over the next several years…Preston Orem contributed a three-page article on the Old Judge cards…In early 1959 Burdick reported that he intended to move to New York City to complete the mounting of the collection. Burdick had also been working on a postcard collection and catalogs the last few years….Bray’s auction was up to 640 lots….Fleer announced they were returning to the baseball card market in 1959….Burdick, Bray, Gelman, Barker and Orem will publish the upcoming 1960 Catalog. The catalog will include many newly listed cards including three of the four 1894 Honest (Duke) Cabinets (N142) discovered by dealer Sam Tanenbaum. The 4 known cards that are 6 by 9 inches book today at a total of about $60,000. The catalog will be priced at $4, include over 200 pages, and have a print run of 3,000…Barker reported that Sports Illustrated noted that 110 million Topps football cards were printed in 1958 with royalties paid of $15,000 while baseball players got merchandise in return for their consents…Barker wrote about “type card” collecting which is an English term. He also frequently kidded with fellow veteran collectors Carter, Jack Wise, and Howard Leheup….510 of the 798 lots in one auction were of postcards reflecting Burdick’s increased emphasis on this part of his collection in the 1950s and Brays collaboration….Burdick reported making photostats of the back of the cards for those he had glued down at the Met….In December 1960 Bray changed his sales commission on auction lots from 10% to 15%.


The Leaf Mystery

The 1948-9 Leafs are now listed as a 96 card set. When this set was first issued only 49 cards were known. Collectors assumed that the skipped-numbered set of 49 was cut short by legal action from Bowman. However in 1958 eight more cards surfaced. In August 1960 Lionel Carter reported: “It is our belief that the same dealer/collector who held back the 1949 Pacific Coast League cards for a number of years then turned them loose one set at a time, also held back the 8 cards mentioned above. This exploded the myth of a 49 card set….We were quite unprepared by the bombshell dropped by Lloyd Hendrick of Lawton, Oklahoma who reported 28 unlisted cards of this set bringing the total up to 85 known cards….Since that time ‘Detective’ Hendrick was found an additional card of Dick Sisler….Perhaps all 168 numbers were issued.” It appeared that 49 cards were printed in quantity and 49 more were “single printed” and distributed regionally. It took collectors years to find them all.


End of an Era

The October 1962 issue had every color of paper in the rainbow with every page different – Bray’s attempt at high design. Jefferson Burdick had reduced the frequency of articles at this point. He wrote his last article for the Bulletin: “Collecting Notes on an Autumn Day.” His subject was collecting and recalled a friend who initially limited his collection to three ferryboat pictures. “There are probably many who limit their collections much more than they should. Even the sports collectors, after a period, reach a point where little can be obtained other than new issues and those -as vast as they are - do not quite satisfy the full-blooded collector. There are but two legitimate limiting factors: available time and money.” Burdick went on to describe ways of collecting within your means, expanding your horizons and buying lots. “Rather than quit in a flurry of frustration, the remedy is to expand the interest to balance the time available for collecting. The field is sufficiently large to accommodate all normal collecting needs and a bit of exploration in these untried fields will make you wonder why you passed them up for so long.”


The June 1, 1963 Bulletin was printed “In Memory of Our Friend Jefferson R. Burdick” “Jeff passed away in the University Hospital N.Y.C. on March 13th and was buried in the family plot in Syracuse N.Y. He was survived by a sister. For the past 30 years he suffered terrific pains from arthritis…Previously he graduated from Syracuse University, then sold advertising until struck down with crippling arthritis. Later he was employed by Krause-Hines Co. in Syracuse working at a job he could do with his hands until his retirement. His card collecting started when a boy, but from the beginning, his must have been a single definite purpose: to cherish all kinds of paper Americana and to acquire more knowledge than anyone else on the subject, then leave his vast holdings to a museum for all of us in the future. He succeeded in all these accomplishments. Well done. Charles Bray.” Tributes were also written by Fred Baum, Fanny Troyer, John Wagner, Woody Gelman, Buck Barker, Dorothy Bagnall of the London Cigarette Card Co., Lester Morris, A. Hyatt Mayer and two pages by Lionel Carter. Post card collectors added their praises as well for Burdick’s The Handbook of Detroit Publishing Co. Post Cards and Pioneer Post Cards.


The Bulletin Continues for 20 More Years

The directory that Burdick wrote for his collection at the Met was finally published in 1964. Gelman, Carter, Barker, Bray and others continued with articles, but the Bulletin increasingly became an auction publication; some 1,083 lots in one 1965 issue. In October 1968 Bob Jasperson had one-fourth-page ad advertising the sale of the collection of the late Frank Jock – three fourths of a ton of baseball memorabilia. In April 1969 Paul Masser advertised the break up of his collection.


Obituaries appeared for Preston Orem by Barker (12/73) and Howard Leheup by Carter (3/75). Now in his eighties, Charles Bray decreased the number of issues from 6 to 4. The issues started to be numbered by the auction number, reaching #204 in 1982. Incredibly Bray kept going with 400 to 500 lots but with very little in the way of articles or other ads. The commission increased to 20%. The last issue that subscriber #23 Lionel Carter has is 7 pages apparently from 1984. It had 298 auction lots and stated “The Card Collectors Bulletin is issued 2 or 4 times a year.” Bray died January 5, 1988 at age 90.


The Bulletin from 1937 through much of the 1950s was the leading hobby publication with serious research, an array of information efficiently presented, and well-written articles. Writers and publishers in addition to Jefferson Burdick also showed enthusiasm for the hobby and had a greater interest in the sports themselves. Collectors could pick up 60 year-old cards for pennies and enjoy their appearance and share in their history without too many worries about values and condition. It was great fun. 



Contact George Vrechek at: vrechek@ameritech.net. George is always interested in information about the history of the sport card collecting hobby.





O B C :   A   T r a d i t i o n   o f   E x c e l l e n c e   S i n c e   1 9 9 1

Old Baseball Cards (OBC), copyright© 1991 - by OBC.
Unauthorized use of the material contained on this page is strictly prohibited.
This page was last updated on