Thursday, December 30, 2010

Old Judge Tobacco Cards

Cap Anson (in uniform)
***The information in this article was used to write our ebook, Before There Was Bubble Gum: Our Favorite Pre-World War I Baseball Card Sets.  To purchase the ebook, please click here.***

The first set of baseball cards ever printed is considered to be the Old Judge cigarette cards, which have the catalog designation N172.  These small-size cards measure 1 7/16” by 2 ½” and feature some of the earliest professional baseball players.  The Old Judge baseball cards were printed over a three year period from 1887 to 1890.  The Goodwin & Company cigarette manufacturers inserted these cards into packages of cigarettes.  Goodwin & Company also owned the Gypsy Queen brand of cigarettes and released the same images with different advertising on the cards.  

The Old Judge cards are examples of the one of the earliest photography techniques.  Using the albumen from egg whites along with photographic chemicals, a “positive” was created on the paper.  The albumen print technique would later be replaced by color lithography.

King Kelly
The entire set consists of 576 cards, but the actual number of surviving cards is low.  Many of the cards have a population of one or zero, particularly in nicer conditions.  One of the highest population cards is # 48 California Brown in full catcher’s gear.  One of the most expensive cards N172 cards is considered to be # 12A Cap Anson in his White Stockings uniform.  Cap Anson had one of the longest careers in professional baseball, spanning 27 seasons.  He was also the first player to collect 3,000 hits.

The Old Judge cards were the first of their kind, but they quickly changed the future of two major industries in the United States.  Goodwin & Company was bought by the tobacco giant American Tobacco Company, which was owned by James Buchanan Duke.  Duke believed that the future of cigarettes was directly tied to the advertising, which included sports and actress cards.  Duke poured money into producing not only cards, but large-size cabinets.  Despite the very first wave of anti-smoking sentiments across the US, Duke continued to print baseball cards and insert them into cigarette packs.  These early tobacco cards are some of the rarest cards ever printed and is looking to buy more.
If you are looking to sell Old Judge baseball cards, please click here.  To see our selection of Old Judge cards, please click here.

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