A new year has ushered in an early candidate for one of the top vintage baseball card finds of 2019.
A Virginia man recently visited the offices of Robert Edward Auctions, carrying with him a collection originally pieced together by his grandfather more than a century ago. Luckily for all involved, grandpa had the good taste (or good luck) to associate with one of the rarest and most desirable sets from the pre-T206 era. In total, 37 newly discovered cards from the Breisch-Williams (E107) set were consigned to REA’s upcoming March auction. Eight different Hall of Famers highlight the grouping.
Few pre-War card issues compare in rarity or significance to the E017 set. Produced in 1903, they represent one of the few sets of baseball cards to be issued during the years between the popular photographic cards of the 1880s (such as Old Judge) and the many tobacco and caramel card issues of the 1910 era, for which E107s can also be credited with establishing the general design.
Assembling any quantity of E107 cards is quite a challenge, and many collectors are content to have only a sample card in their possession. This newly discovered grouping instantly jumps to one of the largest assemblies of cards from this series and ranks as one of the largest introductions of new E107 examples into the collecting world. The current graded population of each player in the set is generally well under ten.
According to REA, the consignor’s grandfather was an electrotyper in Philadelphia around the early part of the 20th century. Electrotyping was introduced as a printing application in which reproductions of printing plates were combined with movable type to create printing forms for mass production. While not much is known about the exact origins of the Breisch-Williams set, there are some signs that point to the greater-Philadelphia area and some potential interconnections with other Pennsylvania companies, like Oxford Confectionery and Williams Caramel.
Most Breisch-Williams cards are low-grade. PSA has rated only eight of the 182 it has examined as better than 4 (VG/EX).
While the condition of the consigned collection varies, it is the Hall of Fame representation that immediately caught the attention of REA President Brian Dwyer. “Naturally any contact that says they have a few dozen E107s is remarkable, but when we had the opportunity to examine pictures, and we began to count off some of the biggest names in the set, we knew this was an extra special collection.”
Hall of Famers Eddie Plank, Addie Joss, Jimmy Collins, Elmer Flick, Rube Waddell, Bobby Wallace, John McGraw, and Ned Hanlon were all part of the collection. According to Dwyer, the Hanlon card is one of the more notable in the find as Hanlon and fellow Hall of Famer Frank Chance consistently rank at or near the top of collectors’ want lists as the toughest-to-find subjects.
The entire collection has been submitted to SGC for grading and encapsulation. It will be presented in its entirety in REA’s March auction, set to open March 6. To register for bidding, receive a free catalog or get more information, visit the REA website.
Additional note: As reported previously, REA is increasing the number of auctions it conducts each year from two to three in 2019. Those dates are now set and include:
- Wednesday, March 6, 2019 to Sunday, March 24, 2019
- Friday July 26, 2019 to Sunday, August 18, 2019
- Wednesday, November 20, 2019 to Sunday, December 8, 2019