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Not Quite Cards: A Look at Sports Card-Related Memorabilia

The sports card hobby has always included ‘not quite cards’ and other related collectibles. It’s a group that includes items like 1911 Sweet Caporal tobacco pins, 1950s-60s Topps stamps and mini-posters, 1950s Armour Hot Dog labels and 1960s Salada Coins, 1980s Fleer stickers and 1911 S74 Baseball Silks.

This column looks at some other popularly non-card collecting memorabilia. All are printed paper or card stock items, many closely resembling sports cards.

1930s Diamond Matchbooks from their popular football, baseball and hockey issues.

1930s Diamond Matchbooks from their popular football, baseball and hockey issues.

The sought after Bronko Nagurski Diamond Matches matchbook

The sought after Bronko Nagurski Diamond Matches matchbook

Matchbooks
Matchbooks picturing sports and sports-related advertising have long been an inexpensive substitute for collectors, especially those on a budget who love vintage material.

In the 1930s, Diamond Matches issued baseball, football and hockey player matchbooks and most are very reasonably priced. The sets include big stars from Dizzy Dean to Bronko Nagurski. The Nagurski is highly sought after as one of the few cards–or card-like items–that were actually issued during his playing days.

Beyond these issues, there is a seemingly limitless number of different matchbooks for sports teams, stadiums and athletes from nearly all sports. Matchbooks from restaurants owned or managed by athletes almost always pictured the player.

Matchbook from boxer Jack Dempsey's restaurant

Matchbook from boxer Jack Dempsey’s restaurant.

Baseball Scorecards
Baseball scorecards can be found from all eras, including the 1800s. They often have colorful covers resembling baseball cards, and are usually filled with interesting advertising.

1880s baseball scorecard Tony Mullane

1880s baseball scorecard picturing Cincinnati Reds star pitcher Tony Mullane

1888 baseball scorecard

Rare 1888 baseball scorecard featuring Old Judge Cigarettes advertising.

Tobacco and Food Product Labels
Colorful lithograph paper labels were affixed to product boxes for everything from cigars to apples. Labels featuring sports scenes and athletes are highly collectible.

1920s Best Strike apples box label

1920s Best Strike apples box label

1800s tobacco box label

1800s tobacco box label

vintage baseball cigar labels

Vintage baseball cigar bands featured popular players or leagues.

Flip Booklets
Often issued as premiums, flip booklets were small stapled booklets that showed animated action when the pages were flipped. Pre-War flip booklets of baseball stars are highly collectible and famed baseball card maker Goudey Chewing Gum issued a number of them.

1906 flip booklet Modecai Brown

1906 flip booklet of Chicago Cubs baseball star pitcher Modecai Brown.

 1922 Babe Ruth flip booklet

Rare 1922 Babe Ruth flip booklet shows Babe Ruth in street clothes.

Notebook covers
Pre-World War II children’s school notebooks can be found with wonderful baseball images. These are popularly collected by many early baseball card collectors, and early 1900s examples featuring the day’s stars can fetch good money at auction.

Circa 1910 Baseball Stars notebook cover featuring Ty Cobb

Circa 1910 Baseball Stars notebook cover featuring Ty Cobb

circa 1910 Ty Cobb notebook cover, reminiscent of the popular 1911 T3 Turkey Red Cabinet Cards

circa 1910 Ty Cobb notebook cover, reminiscent of the popular 1911 T3 Turkey Red Cabinet Cards

Sheet Music
Before television, sitting around the piano and singing was a popular pastime. There is a variety of sheet music available depicting sports stars. These can make wonderful display pieces.

1907 Chicago Cubs sheet music

1907 Chicago Cubs sheet music

1903 Boston Red Sox sheet music picturing Hall of Famer Jimmy Collins

1903 Boston Red Sox sheet music picturing Hall of Famer Jimmy Collins

1950s 'I Love Mickey (Mantle)" sheet music

1950s ‘I Love Mickey (Mantle” sheet music

Season Passes
Sports stadium passes, including season tickets, are highly collectible memorabilia. They were often issued to VIPs, including former stars.

1901 University of Michigan season pass, including for football and baseball games.

1901 University of Michigan season pass, including for football and baseball games.

1994 Minor Leagues pass issued to former baseball executive Harry Dalton. From his estate.

1994 Minor Leagues pass issued to MLB baseball executive Harry Dalton. From his estate.

1924 New York Giant Silver Season Pass.  Silver Season passes were given to VIPs, including players' wives, and the receiver's name is engraved on back.

1924 New York Giant Silver Season Pass. Silver Season passes were given to VIPs, including players’ wives, and the receiver’s name is engraved on back.

rare 1900 Cincinnati Reds Silver Season Pass

rare 1900 Cincinnati Reds Silver Season Pass

Christmas Cards
Teams sent out Christmas and holiday cards to VIPs, including advertisers, players, team executives and radio announcers. They are often signed by a team representative. Players also sent out their own cards.

Early 1980s New York Islanders hockey team Christmas card with a team photo.

Early 1980s New York Islanders hockey team Christmas card with a team photo.

1930 Christmas card from the Babe Ruth family

1930 Christmas card from the Babe Ruth family.

Business cards
Sports executives, radio personalities and retired athletes often had personal business cards, and they can be found at auction. Some are autographed by the person. Business cards are neat because the usually came from the person.

Satchel Paige autographed business card

Satchel Paige autographed business card from when he was a minor league team executive with the St. Louis Cardinals.

1931 Honus Wagner and Pie Traynor business card

1931 Honus Wagner and Pie Traynor business card

Standard business card signed by Mordecai Brown

Standard business card signed by Mordecai Brown

About David Cycleback

David Cycleback is an art and artifact historian and an internationally known authentication expert. He has advised and examined material for major auction houses and institutions, and was an articles writer for the Encyclopedia of Nineteenth Century Photography. Reprinted by Beijing's Three Shadows Art Center, his guides "Judging the Authenticity of Prints by the Masters" and "Judging the Authenticity of Photographs" were the first comprehensive books on the subjects published in China. You can find his books for sale on eBay here: http://bit.ly/1mixAcg. He can be reached at [email protected].

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