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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

1914-15 E145 Cracker Jack Baseball Cards

1914 #88 Mathewson
***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 E145 Cracker Jack baseball card set is one of the rarities of the baseball card world. Vintage Cracker Jack prizes and toys continue to be very popular amongst collectors. The history of Cracker Jack and its baseball cards reflects the history of baseball in the first few decades of the 20th century. Produced by Rueckheim Bros. & Eckstein, Cracker Jack was first sold at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. The mixture of popcorn, peanuts, and molasses was a hit with those who tried it. In 1912, the manufacturers of Cracker Jack started making toys and prizes to insert into the boxes. In 1914, they made the decision to include baseball cards.

1914 #36 Eddie Walsh back
The E145 cards were printed over a period of two years in two distinct subsets. The 1914 set, which is also known as the E145-1 set is slightly more expensive and consists of 144 cards. They are printed on thinner paper than the 1915 Cracker Jack cards. The 1915 set, or E145-2 set, is slightly larger, consisting of 176 cards. The cards from the 1914 set make up the first 144 cards of the 1915 set. The 1915 Cracker Jacks cards can be distinguished by their backs, which are oriented upside down, and their thicker card stock.
The 1915 Cracker Jack set could also be purchased directly from the company in album form. Those who collected the 1914 set noticed that the cards were very prone to becoming sticky from the molasses that coated the popcorn and peanuts inside. The Rueckheim Bros. & Eckstein company took note of the complaints and decided to offer coupons that could be redeemed for an entire set of Cracker Jack cards.

One important characteristic of the Cracker Jack baseball cards is that the set includes three different leagues: the American, National, and Federal. The Federal League existed for only two years, but it happened to coincide with the release of the Cracker Jack cards. There were a total of eight teams in the Federal League, several of which moved or relocated during the league’s two year lifespan. The Baltimore Terrapins, Brooklyn Tip-Tops, Buffalo Blues, Chicago Whales, Indianapolis Hoosiers, Kansas City Packers, Pittsburgh Rebels, and St. Louis Terriers made up the Federal League. In some cases, the teams were simply known as an abbreviated name of their city plus the suffix -fed. For example, the Whales were also known as the “ChiFeds”.

1915 #23 Comiskey
Although the Federal League collapsed after the 1915 season, it left a lasting impression on Major League Baseball. Most importantly, the Federal League brought legal action against the National League in 1922, but the Supreme Court ruled that Major League Baseball was entertainment and therefore not subject to antitrust laws. The Federal League also produced one of the best known ballparks in the MLB today - Wrigley Field. The Chicago Whales originally played in Weegham Park. When the Federal League folded in 1915, the owner of the Whales formed a syndicate with William Wrigley, Jr. and moved the Cubs into what would later be Wrigley Field.

Cracker Jack cards are some of the most popular cards from the Pre-War era. If you are interested in selling Cracker Jack or any other Pre-War cards, please click here. If you are interested in viewing our inventory of Cracker Jack cards, please click here.