They are starkly beautiful, with black-and-white photography. The 101-card Kashin Publications baseball set, produced in 1929, has an eclectic group of players, but relatively affordable cards of two key stars from that era — Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
1929 Kashin Publications Baseball Basics
The cards are also known as R316s (Jefferson Burdick, who created designations for card sets, also referred to this set as “Portraits and Action”) and came in four series — 25 cards per box, and four separate, color-coded boxes. The set actually had 101 cards, as a Ruth card was inserted into each box. In doing so, four cards were removed, making them short prints. The players short-printed were Jesse Haines, Phil Todt, Irving “Bump” Hadley and Harry “Socks” Seibold.
The cards, made of thin stock and not numbered, measured 3 ½ inches by 4 ½ inches and had white borders around the photographs, taken by Charles Conlon. The card backs were blank. On the front, there was a facsimile of the player’s autograph near the bottom of the photo, while the team name and league was underneath in printed letters.
Murderer’s Row and Cheap Hall of Famers
Illinois collector T.J. Valacak stumbled upon the Kashin set almost two years ago while looking to beef up his vintage Red Sox and White Sox collection. He won an eBay auction for nine cards and an original box, and he has more than 20 cards in the set now.
“The set is not only affordable, but it contains the big name of the day — the Babe,” Valacak said. “I thought a set so close to that storied 1927 season would be pretty exciting to collect.”
And for collectors who like the 1927 New York Yankees, that team is represented well in the 1929 Kashin Publications set. In addition to Ruth and Gehrig, other players in the set are Earle Combs, Mark Koenig, Waite Hoyt and Herb Pennock. The set is also chock full of Hall of Famers, with Rogers Hornsby, Mel Ott, Bill Terry, Jimmie Foxx, Frank Frisch, Pie Traynor, Paul Waner and others.
As an aside, Kashin Publications also put out a set of movie star cards in 1929, filled with silver screen favorites like Clara Bow, Harold Lloyd, Rudy Vallee, Fay Wray, Douglas Fairbanks (Sr. and Jr.), Mary Pickford, Joan Crawford and Gary Cooper.
Back to baseball. The 1929 Kashin Publications set is tough to assemble because of the short prints. There is only one complete (all 101 cards), graded PSA set, and that one is owned by set builder extraordinaire Don E. Spence. His set has a 7.93 set rating, with two grading as high as PSA 9. No other collector who has sent cards for grading has anything graded that high. PSA has received 1,937 cards for grading; 46 percent grade out at PSA 5 (449) or PSA 6 (447).
The short prints are scarce in the PSA registry. Haines has just six graded cards, with none higher that PSA 4. Hadley has had five graded, and the top one was a PSA 4. There are five graded Seibold cards and only two have registered as high as PSA 4. Todt fares better, with 10 graded cards and one PSA 7. There are 130 PSA graded Ruths, but only five grade as high as PSA 8. One of those 8s is for sale on eBay for a buy-it-now price of $6,500.
However, a lower grade card is not totally out of range. “The Standard Catalog of Vintage Baseball Cards” lists a Ruth in near mint condition for $1,650 and $500 in VG condition. A Gehrig card in VG books for $375, while according to the magazine, a near mint would book $1,250.
At SGC, there have been 1,398 cards submitted. Only five have grades as high as 96, and only nine at 92. As far as short prints go, there is only one each of Hadley and Todt, five Seibolds (highest grade is 30), and four of Haines (including a 96).
“The pictures used lack the crispness of the exhibits from the 1920s,” stated Valacak, whose biggest “name” card in the set is Hall of Famer Rabbit Maranville, “but I think it is neat to check out these new poses (new to me).”
There are currently over 150 1929 Kashin baseball cards on eBay now, some with starting bids under $1. Click here to see them.