Pre-war sets come in all shapes and sizes. Among the more unique issues are transfers sets and one of the more popular ones is called the 1923 German Transfers set.
Transfers are often called stamps and that’s for good reason. They basically look like stamps and often have perforated stamp-like edges to them. But they’re a little different in that they have reverse print. That was done so that, when affixed to a surface, they would appear ‘right side up.’
Here’s a closer look at the somewhat oddball 1923 German Transfers set.
1923 German Transfers Basics
The 1923 German Transfers set is small but packed with big names. It includes a checklist of 25 baseball players and boxers, and the transfers were issued in full unseparated sheets with the complete set. The sheets included five rows of five athletes and you can still even find these today on occasion.
They are called the German Transfers set simply because the bottoms state that they were made in Germany. A more conclusive printer or distributor is not known. Full sheets offer little information with a basic header at the top that only states they are of ‘IA’ quality and that they are ‘Warranted to come of (sic) well.’ No other company name is seen making them a bit of a mystery.
The individual transfers are relatively small, measuring only about 1 1/8″ wide by 1 1/2″ tall. They are printed with mostly red and green ink, leading to some weird looking pictures.
In particular the artwork on them is not good and if you are a collector of old strip cards, you may even recognize them. It is important to point out that the pictures used in these were also the same ones used in the 1923 W515 strip card set. That, unfortunately, means they leave much to be desired from an aesthetics standpoint. The W515 set, in short, is one of the least desirable strip card sets in terms of appearance that can be found. Still, that has not really hurt the popularity of this issue which is known quite a bit by collectors of early cards and baseball collectibles. They do not sell for big money compared to traditional cards but they have found a certain niche with pre-war collectors, many of whom can identify them.
Little information about these transfers as a whole is known. As stated, we don’t know the distributor and even nailing down the date specifically is likely difficult. They are referred to as a 1923 set but that is probably because the images originate from the W515 set and those are dated to 1923. I am not certain that conclusive evidence pinning this to 1923 has ever been found.
1923 German Transfers Checklist
Despite being a fairly small set in size, the 1923 German Transfers checklist has all kinds of stars packed inside of it. One thing to note is that, while 25 different stamps are generally mentioned as being in this checklist, there are really only 22 subjects. Three subjects, baseball players Zack Wheat and Red Faber, along with boxer Georges Carpentier, were double printed.
Counting the double printed subjects, there are a total of 15 baseball subjects and ten boxers. Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb are easily the most notable of the baseball subjects but many other Hall of Famers exist, too. From the world of boxing, the transfer of Hall of Famer Jack Dempsey is generally the one most in demand. Even his, however, does not rival Ruth and Cobb for most collectors.
Here’s a full checklist of the set:
- Grover Alexander
- Dave Bancroft
- Leonard Benny
- George Burns
- Georges Carpentier
- Georges Carpentier
- Ty Cobb
- Jack Dempsey
- Red Faber
- Red Faber
- Luis Firpo
- Tommy Gibbons
- Floyd Johnson
- Art Nehf
- Babe Ruth
- Ray Schalk
- Everett Scott
- Bob Shawkey
- Babbling Siki
- Tris Speaker
- Casey Stengel
- Lew Tendler
- Zack Wheat
- Zack Wheat
- Harry Willis
Collectors have turned to these transfers for their affordability and for the big names. Individual commons, when they can be found, can sell for as little as $5-$10. Stars are, of course, more.
Some Hall of Famers can be found in the $15-$20 range while Ruth and Cobb are generally the most expensive in the set. Prices are all over the board but lower end examples can be sometimes found for $100 or less. You can usually find a few dozen for sale on eBay.
Given what some sellers ask for Ruth and Cobb, a collector may be better off trying to find a complete sheet. Those typically sell for around $400-$600, depending on the venue and condition. REA sold one in 2017 for $480.