The 1928 W502 Game Backs cards are similar to the F50 ice cream/food issues as well as the E210 York Caramel set. The biggest difference, however, is found on the backs. Here’s a closer look at the W502 set.
W502 Game Backs Basics
Classified as W502 by Jefferson Burdick in his American Card Catalog, these cards are believed to have been printed in 1928. They feature black and white pictures of players and were printed inside of a white border. The player’s name and a card number are printed at the bottom. Burdick merely called these “Baseball Photos” with a game on back. They measure approximately 1 3/8″ wide x 2 1/2″ tall. No mention of a producer or distributor is mentioned on them making them an anonymous issue.
As mentioned, the cards are similar to the ones found in the F50 and E210 York Caramel sets. Many of the pictures, players, and names are virtually the same in all of the sets with a few minor variances.
The set includes a total of 60 cards, including several big names. Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Lou Gehrig lead the way and other stars include Rogers Hornsby, Tris Speaker, Grover Alexander, George Sisler, Hack Wilson, and countless others. About half of the set is comprised of Baseball Hall of Famers, in fact, so it’s a star-studded issue.
The biggest thing setting the W502 issue apart from the others is the presence of a game or contest on the back.
Even beyond those types, there are some other variants as well. The most notable is that some have text added denoting that the card could be returned to the storekeeper for a baseball. Some merely say baseball while others say a ‘sponge’ baseball, leading us to believe that there were either two types of baseballs being given away or that all were sponge baseballs and some cards merely did not state that.
It is often said the cards are part of a game, but there isn’t really much in the way of evidence of that. While it would make sense based on the text on the back, the cards could have simply just had that text printed for no real reason and only to add to the baseball theme. Or, perhaps, customers could exchange those cards for various prizes. However, the mention of a redemption program, at the very least, means they were tied to a contest of sorts where customers could exchange them for a baseball.
W502 Game Backs Prices
The cards today aren’t too rare. They aren’t abundantly common but prices on them are generally sort of modest. Commons in mid-grade condition generally start around $25-$50 and even some of the stars and lower-end Hall of Famers aren’t too much more.
Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Lou Gehrig are generally the more expensive cards from this issue and, when you can find them, prices aren’t too out of hand. Often, they are cheaper than their caramel and tobacco issues. A Ruth SGC 40, for example, sold recently on eBay for under $1,000. Some lower grade cards, even fairly well-known names, can often be found for under $50. You can see a few dozen for sale and auction on eBay here.