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