The 1911 Close Candy set (designated as E94 in the American Card Catalog) included a total of 30 baseball cards featuring major leaguers. But the 1911 Baltimore News set also used the same cards as the company created their own promotion for paperboys.
1911 Baltimore News Newsboys Basics
The 1911 Baltimore News Newsboys set, cataloged as M131, is virtually identical to the E94 Close Candy issue. Both featured color images of baseball players and measure 1 1/2″ wide x 2 3/4″ tall – a relatively standard size for earlier caramel cards. A total of 30 players are found in the set with player names and teams printed at the bottom on these white-bordered cards. Backs of the cards conveniently included a full checklist of all 30 players found in the release.
The cards are similar in nearly every way to the E94 Close Candy set with two distinctive differences. First, while the E94 set utilized backgrounds of varying colors, the Baltimore Newsboys sets only used blue backgrounds. Backs of the cards were also different. The E94 set merely has the checklist and, in some cases, overprint advertisement stamps for Close Candy. The Baltimore Newsboys set, however, provides an offer to paper boys at the top.
The cards are extremely rare and we know that from the population reports. At the time of this writing, PSA’s and SGC’s pop reports indicate they have not even graded 100 total cards combined.
A Special Promotion
The simple offer on the backs of the cards included a $1.00 prize to the first 35 boys collecting a full set of the cards. Players listed in the checklist, as well as the cards themselves, are unnumbered.
How children received them is a mystery but if they were distributed only to their newsboys, it becomes easy to see why this set is so scarce. Further, if boys had the surrender their cards upon receiving the prize, reason for their scarcity becomes even clearer. After all, it is quite possible that upon receiving the prize, the cards would have been of little interest. They could have easily been discarded by the newspaper or, even if the boys had received the cards back, they were perhaps not even kept.
The set features numerous big names and is headlined by Hall of Famer Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, and Cy Young. That impressive trio of Hall of Famers is joined by other keys, including Tris Speaker, Eddie Cicotte, Johnny Evers, Frank Chance, Nap Lajoie, John McGraw, Hughie Jennings, and Sam Crawford.
Others in the set include Earl Moore, Eddie Grant, Red Murray, Bobby Byrne, Jimmy Austin, Joe Lake, Hans Lobert, Sherry Magee, Mickey Doolan, Harry Davis, Tommy Leach, Harry Lord, Patsy Dougherty, Josh Devore, Johnny Bates, Red Kleinow, Bob Bescher, Terry Turner, and Art Devlin.
As is the case with other caramel sets from the same era, some poses were duplicated in other sets.
All cards in the set are scarce and while the big names command significant money, even the commons here are pricey. Commons often can $1,000 for cards even in poor condition and mid-grade commons typically start around $2,500. The Cobb card leads the way in terms of value and even in lesser grade, such as this SGC 20, which sold several years ago, is generally a five-figure card. Due to the extreme rarity of the cards, complete sets are virtually non-existent.