A quick glance of the baseball Company Sets category on the PSA Registry will show that collectors have attempted nearly 18,000 of these sets. While several sets have been attempted (and completed) by hundreds of individuals, there are many sets that only a handful have attempted (and fewer have completed). However, one set that has escaped even the slightest of attempts by collectors is 1912 Plow's Candy (E300).
The cards feature sepia action photos that were uncommon for the day, with many of the most exciting images being desirable horizontal poses. The checklist is robust with many key Hall of Famers including Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, and Honus Wagner. Examples from the set are considered rare with most players having only a singled card graded.
E300 is a set that seemed to escape the radar of hobby pioneers until a large find in the 1970s. There is still much that is unknown about the issue, and many believe the checklist is still incomplete. In fact, it was just in recent years that Hall of Famers such as Eddie Plank were catalogued by our own Rich Klein.
What is known is that in recent years E300 prices have skyrocketed. In 2001, a group of 55 E300 cards, including all of the major Hall of Famers and several exceptional issues graded PSA 6, 7, and even 8. The lot fetched what was at the time considered a very strong $90,199, but over the next decade that number would come to seem like a bargain. At last year's National, Heritage auctioned the very same PSA 8 Mathewson from the REA lot for a staggering $113,525! That is nearly $25,000 higher than the lot price, with the 54 remaining cards excluded.
Other E300 Plow's Candy cards have hit the market over the past several years with Mastro selling a PSA 4 Ty Cobb for $13,698 in 2007, which later re-sold in Goodwin for $21,494.28 just two years later. REA auctioned off HOFer Johnny Evers for $3,259 in 2012 and realized $5,333 for Stuffy McInnes and Chief Meyers in 2014, whileGreg Bussineau got $3,540 for Stuffy McInnes in 2011.
One collector who quietly attempted the set following the find in the 1970s and 80s was the late Carl Berg of Overland Park, Kansas. "E300 is a beautiful set with large pictures and a fairly sturdy stock that makes an attractive set," explained his son, Dave Berg, referencing his and his father's pursuit of the set for nearly four decades. "They simply don't become available often enough to realistically complete and even commons demand a premium due to rarity."
Today, the younger Berg maintains 11 raw cards from the set - including three key Hall of Famers - but has described the set as 'impractical' and therefore last year consigned his E300 Josh Devore to Goldin Auctions, which sold for almost $3,500. "To own a single example is really a thrill," he told us.
There are other baseball sets from 1912 that are much easier to find. Click here to see them. And if you're one of the fortunate to own a PSA graded example of an E300, then head over to PSA where NO sets are currently registered. With one click of the mouse you'll find yourself with the number one rated 'set' - a feat rarer than an E300 itself.