Many collectors consider the 1906 Fan Craze baseball card set to be one of the most underrated issues of the early 20th century.
In addition to the fact that it’s now 106 years-old, Fan Craze offers what can be described as some of the best portrait poses of some of the game’s most iconic early pros. While not issued with consumable goods and printed in black and white, it is still a remarkable issue.
At the time, much of America was still very rural and even populated areas often had no access to games that were played in only the largest metropolitan areas, often many hours or even days away by train. Table top games such as this were often one of few ways adults and kids fascinated with baseball could connect to the game at the Major League level.
Fan Craze was owned by a Cincinnati company which created them as part of a table game that was marketed to fans. The small, boxed game came with a game board and instructions. Each card contains a ‘play’. It was a simple concept and not unlike numerous other baseball card games produced in later years. American League players make up the blue-backed cards whereas the red-backed cards feature National Leaguers.
Designated WG-3 in the American Card Catalog, the set features several players who weren’t featured in any other set, and this makes it quite important in the annals of early card collecting.
Fan Craze cards display a striking black and white Carl Horner image showing the player’s name and team name. Some subjects are pictured in uniforms while others are shown in suits.
The condition of Fan Craze cards is largely determined by how much the game was really used at that time. In general, they were kept in closets, taken out only when the game was played. Although that’s great news for collectors, ultra high grade examples are still very rarely found.
In all, PSA has graded over 2,150 of them (over 400 9’s) and SGC has graded only 365.
Fan Craze cards were produced three years prior to the T206 set, making it one of the few sets that include stars from the ‘T206 era’ like Honus Wagner, Miller Huggins, Roger Bresnahan, John McGraw and Frank Chance as well as late 19th century standouts like Jake Beckley, Kid Nichols and Joe Kelley.
One of the finest known complete sets of 1906 Fan Craze cards was sold by Robert Edward Auctions for more than $15,000 last spring. As of this writing, there were over 100 currently available on eBay. Click here to see them.