|Cap Anson (in uniform)|
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.
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 DeansCards.com is looking to buy more.
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