In 1923 and 1924, Crescent Ice Cream produced a pair of pre-war hockey card sets in Canada for the hometown Selkirk Fishermen. Two different sets were produced by the company and the sets included some special promotions (with a catch). Here’s a closer look at the Crescent Selkirks sets of the 1920s.
Crescent Ice Cream released two sets in 1923-24 and 1924 -25 (each containing 14 cards) featuring players from the Selkirk Fishermen, a popular junior hockey team. The Fishermen are one of the more well-known junior teams as they are the longest-running club in Canada and still active today.
Both of the Crescent Selkirks sets are eerily similar in their design, so it can be a little difficult to tell them apart from the fronts. Each card features black and white images, and the Selkirks name arched above the player’s picture, and included his name and position at the bottom in a thin, black box.
The differences in terms of design are minor. One is in the font used for the Selkirks name between the two issues. The 1923-24 set also has a plain white background while players were pictured against some sort of wooded or brick building in the following season.
Despite being a small, regional issue, a few players did go on to have professional success.
Most notably, Charlie Gardiner (whose name was misspelled ‘Gardner’) is in the 1923-24 set. Gardiner was a star goalkeeper until his early death (due to an infection) at the age of 29 after seven standout seasons in the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks. Gardiner was so good, in fact, that he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame’s first class.
Cecil Browne is there from the 1923-24 issue as well. Browne reached the NHL, playing briefly with the Chicago Blackhawks until an injury ended his career.
The 1923-24 set also boasted a few players that were very good players, even though they didn’t reach the pros. Leo Benard was a notable player that turned down an NHL contract to go to college and obtain a law degree. Finally, while Harold McMunn didn’t play in the NHL, he made the Canadian Olympic team in 1924.
The 1924-25 set has much less in terms of player name appeal. Browne returned for this set and his card is easily the key one as it was believe to have been shortprinted, as mentioned above. Benard is also present again as well, but this set doesn’t have the big hitter like Gardiner from the previous issue.
Each year, Crescent Ice Cream offered a promotion surrounding the cards. As was the case with other such offers of that era, however, there was a catch.
Collectors with an 1923-24 entire set could bring the cards to Crescent’s offices for a brick of ice cream. Three sets would yield the bearer a hockey stick. However, card No. 6 was either printed in such small quantities (or, perhaps even not printed at all) that it is not known today. Few complete sets, if any, were probably presented.
Crescent’s ran the same promotion the following year with the only change being that no hockey stick was offered. It is possible they received complaints from the previous year because, while No. 6 (Cecil Browne) is scarce, we at least have seen examples of this card today.
As a result of the promotions, some of the cards can be found that have been redeemed and have a punch hole through them.
1923-24 and 1924-25 Crescent Selkirks Prices
The 1923-24 cards are much more scarce than the 1924-25 issue. As a result, prices are generally higher for the first set. There are sometimes cards listed on eBay but collectors should also note that some listings may be incorrectly titled.
Mid-grade 1924-25 commons at the lower end of the spectrum generally start in the $100 – $150 range while the 1923-24 set examples in that same condition can fetch three times that amount. A complete mid-graded 1923-24 set of 13 cards (minus the unknown No. 6) sold for more than $5,000 in 2013.