After the tobacco card boom in the early 1900s and 1910s, baseball cards began making their way into candy products. While some earlier issues existed, the 1920s was really when candy/caramel cards kicked into high gear. Some 1920s sets, such as the American Caramel releases, are relatively common. Others, though, are much more scarce. Such is the case with the 1928 Star Player Candy set.
These cards were uncatalogued by Jefferson Burdick in his American Card Catalog. And when you consider how rare they are, that isn’t entirely surprising. Burdick did, of course, catalog rarer sets. However, it is easy to understand how he did not come across these or see enough of them to add to his book.
The 1928 Star Player cards had a simple, basic look to them. The fronts included a sepia-toned picture that can sometimes be mistaken for black and white. A relatively thick white border/off-white border surrounds the image and the only text found is the player’s name at the bottom. Cards are not numbered and, unlike the 1929 set, did not have any text on the blank backs. Because of that, they don’t have many distinctive characteristics. One thing that does stick out among them, however, is the presence of an unusually thick border.
Measuring nearly 2″ x 3″, these cards are the slightly larger types that many card companies used in the 1920s.
A total of either 72 or 73 (more on that in a bit) baseball players are found in the set. A football issue exists, too, featuring collegiate football players. But while some group them into this set, I believe it is a separate issue because they pictured college players and also had a slightly different layout, including the name of the college below the player’s name.
Sticking to the baseball cards, there are plenty of big names here. Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb are the headliners, but the set also includes players such as Mickey Cochrane, Lefty Grove, George Sisler, Tris Speaker, Pie Traynor, Hack Wilson (called Lewis) and numerous other Hall of Famers.
Much mystery surrounds one of the biggest names in baseball at the time in Lou Gehrig. Gehrig is reported on some checklists as being included it the set. However, that has not been 100% verified and good luck with finding an image of the purported card. Some collectors feel that the Gehrig cards that have been seen are from the 1929 issue. In other words, it isn’t positively known if he is in the 1928 set or not.
If Gehrig is in the set, that would give us 73 cards. No Gehrig means the checklist sits at 72.
1928 Star Player Candy Prices
These cards are not easily found and generally expensive when they do surface. If any are on eBay, it is usually not more than a few. Commons, even in low grade, fetch a few hundred dollars.
Ruth and Cobb are the most expensive. A Cobb in a relatively low PSA 3 grade was auctioned for more than $11,000 by REA. A Ruth in that same grade (but graded by SGC), brought more than $10,000 at a Heritage Auction in 2008.