In the early 1920s, Babe Ruth was the biggest name in baseball. He was not only prominently featured in mainstream caramel/candy sets, but was, at times, the only subject in some more obscure stuff. One such issue was the 1921 Schapira Brothers Babe Ruth set.
About the 1921 Schapira Brothers Cards
Schapira Brothers – sounds like a law firm, right? Well, in actuality, they were a novelty and candy company based in New York.
They produced several items, including a separate early 1920s baseball card issue called the Big Show Candy set. But one of their noteworthy creations was boxed candy featuring pictures of Yankees great Babe Ruth. The connection made sense as, not only was Ruth a big drawing card, but he was in the same city as Schapira Brothers.
Each box of candy featured Ruth on the outside, and the boxes and cards have a predictable red, white, and blue theme. While most were discarded or have been lost over time, some have survived. Today, these ‘cards’ of Ruth are fairly rare and quite popular. Most of the time, the cards are seen individually and have been cut out. However, some uncut boxes are known to exist, too.
Ruth, Ruth, and More Ruth
Ruth is the only subject on the boxes and each one contains two pictures of the slugger. On one side is a cartoon portrait card, which features Ruth’s head and a redemption offer. Collectors could receive an autographed baseball from Schapira Brothers if they redeemed 250 of those cards. As I explain here, the headshot picture is actually from a 1921 New York Times pictorial. It is also worth mentioning that two versions of the portrait card are known – one that has arrows pointing down to Ruth’s image and the other without the arrows.
The other side of the box included one of five Ruth action shots, featuring the Hall of Famer in numerous positions. Each of those cards comes with a small caption. As the cards are hand cut, you will find them in various sizes. Some, like the card shown on the left here, will be cut with the cream-colored border intact. Others, such as the fielding card next to it, are cut with no trace of a border.
As the portrait card was found on every box, that is by far and away the most common one found. If you come across any of these cards, the portrait one is the one you are most likely to see. Others are available, too, but the portrait is most plentiful. The portrait card is also the one most commonly faked.
The cards are not numbered but the checklist for the set (based on the card captions) is:
- Clearing the Bags
- Home Run
- Over the Fence
- Portrait/Headshot (two variations)
- They Passed Him
- Waiting for a High One
While these cards are not cheap they are actually some of Ruth’s less expensive cards. Due to the rarity, finding complete sets of these is not too common. They do, however, surface from time to time. Heritage sold one in 2017 for over $3,300.
Singles aren’t as common as other Ruth issues but, when found, they usually start around $600. You can see several for sale on eBay here.