The W504 Strip Cards set is not quite as well known as some others. But given the roster and rarity, it’s difficult to understand why it isn’t more celebrated. Here’s a closer look at this release that is somewhat difficult to find.
W504 Strip Card Basics
Believed to have been printed in 1925, these unique cards include black and white player images. These strip cards were issued in uncut sheets (all told, the sheets measured approximately 5 1/2″ wide x 13″ tall). As is stated at the tops of the sheets, the cards were distributed by the Universal Toy and Novelty Manufacturing Company.
There are a few noteworthy things about the cards from a design and layout standpoint. First, the cards not only include the player’s name and a card number on the front, but also his date of birth. Few pre-war cards issued that kind of information on the front. Second, while the cards do have numbers on them, oddly, the numbering begins with card No. 101.
Only four major league teams are represented in the set and, three of them were from New York — the Brooklyn Robins, New York Yankees, New York Giants, and the Washington Senators. The card numbering also follows the teams with the Robins on the earliest card numbers and the Senators on the latest ones. The Senators cards are by far the most difficult to obtain.
In addition to the individual cards, another unique twist with the set is that it included larger team cards.
The cards are not entirely scarce but are rarer than many other strip issues.
W504 Strip Card Roster
While the set is limited to only four teams, it still packs a large amount of star power into it. A total of 68 cards are found in the set and it includes some of baseball’s biggest names.
Headlining the set is, of course, the legendary Babe Ruth. Other keys include Zack Wheat, Dazzy Vance, Hack Wilson, Waite Hoyt, John McGraw, and Hughie Jennings, and others. Vance’s card is somewhat important here as some consider it to be a major league rookie card, despite the fact that he had a card in the ultra rare international N258 Diaz Cigarettes set.
From a historical perspective, this strip card set also includes another noteworthy card with one featuring Wally Pipp. Pipp was a solid player for the New York Yankees for many seasons in the 1910s and 1920s. But in 1925, he missed a game. Reports for the absence have been widely debated and accounts have varied greatly. Some suggest Pipp missed a game due to a routine headache while others state he was experiencing double vision or had a more serious injury. Nevertheless, Pipp missed a game and was replaced by newcomer Lou Gehrig. Gehrig would not only go on to a Hall of Fame career but also begin a record streak for consecutive games played. Pipp would later join the Cincinnati Reds after the season. His appearance in this set, thus, is one of his last cards featuring him as a member of the Yankees.
W504 Team Cards and Uncut Sheets
The presence of team cards in this set makes it a truly unique release.
Each of the four teams had a total of 16 cards. In all, you have 64 individual cards and four team cards for a total of 68 in the set. The individual cards were printed in four rows of four cards, and the team cards were oversized and printed at the top. Uncut sheets of the cards are still known to this day. However, because the team cards were at the top of the sheets, collectors should be aware that any advertised sheet without the team card at the top is not truly a complete sheet.
As expected, the team card for the New York Yankees is extremely valuable as it features Ruth but the Senators card is as well as the Senators cards are generally the toughest to find. A Senators team card is known to exist but is extremely rare.
Shown above are a pair of sheets that sold for over $6,500 in 2014 through Robert Edward Auctions.
Individual commons from this set are not expensive, despite not being seen as often as other strip issues. Commons from this set typically start in the $10-$20 range with stars selling for more, depending on the player and condition. Ruth’s card will generally start in the $500 – $700 range in decent condition.
Uncut sheets are also available on occasion, too, and the Brooklyn ones are most common. Typically collectors will find those for sale from auction houses with prices starting around $400-$500 if the team card is included. However, sheets for the Yankees and Giants will easily sell for more. A Senators sheet would also sell for significantly more if one became available.