The 1932 Sanella set is an interesting issue from Germany. Along with Astra Margarine, the Sanella Margarine cards feature a variety of sports. The key to the set is Yankees Hall of Famer Babe Ruth but there’s much more here to know about this set.
1932 Sanella Basics
To start, many collectors might consider these to be small photographs (measuring approximately 2 3/4″ wide x 4 1/16″ tall) rather than trading cards. The stock of the ‘cards’ is extremely thin and can bend or tear easily. If that isn’t a deal-breaker, however, you might be pleasantly surprised by the images on the cards. Much of the artwork on is above average and lifelike. Full color images are used with a thin off-white border on the fronts. The backs explain a little more about the set but in German.
Another hurdle in collecting this set is determining the checklist. Collectors not only need to be cognizant that the text is written in German but that the titles and identifying names are also written in a small, calligraphic script, which can make it difficult to determine who or what is being depicted. Finally, even the numbering can be confusing. Some of the cards do not have numbers and others appear to have the same number. However, the number presented is the page number in an accompanying album where the card was intended to be placed. Thus, some cards have the same number if they were both reserved for that page.
One great thing about the cards is that, despite their frailty, they are easy to find in high-grade condition. Many were seemingly stored for years without being touched or placed/removed carefully from albums.
1932 Sanella Subjects
By far and away, the biggest drawing card of this set is the card of Babe Ruth. Once a pricey addition, the Sanella Ruth cards have become easier to find due largely to German collectors realizing their value. Ruth’s card features him mid-swing admiring what could be one of his famous 714 home runs. Ruth’s face is somewhat hidden from the angle but it still generally an aesthetically-pleasing card of the Hall of Famer wearing the trademark pinstripes.
It should also be noted that variations exist, at least concerning the Ruth card. Four different Ruth variations are known regarding the placement of the Sanella logo on the back and the presence (or absence) of a page number.
There’s more to the set than Ruth, however.
The good news is that baseball fans will be pleased to know there is another baseball subject in the set. The bad news, however, is that subject remains unidentified nearly 100 years later. The picture shows a Japanese catcher but unlike many other cards in the set, a name is not provided. Still, the card is an intriguing one and one that collectors still value despite the anonymity.
In terms of the ‘big four sports’, an ice hockey card is included as well. The card does not include names of players, but indicates the German teams depicted are Brandenburg and SCC. Finally, forms of basketball and American football are here as well. The ‘basketball’ card actually shows a game of netball – a similar but different sport. The picture is so similar, though, that the card is often advertised as a basketball issue. And while American football isn’t here specifically, a rugby card makes it look very much like the sport.
While many of the sports in the set will be of little interest to American collectors, other popular sports included here are boxing, soccer, and golf. In particular, a horizontal card of boxing legends Max Schmeling and Jack Sharkey is in the release.
Watch Out for Astra
Collectors should also be aware of cards with the Astra logo. These cards were also produced for Astra, another margarine brand. The Astra cards are significantly rarer than the Sanella issues and generally carry a premium.
The two sets of cards are identical, sharing the same checklist. The only difference is that the Sanella logo that appears on the back has been replaced with the Astra logo with simple, large block lettering.
Despite being nearly 100 years old, prices for most of the cards remain very low. Many commons in mid-grade (or even high-grade) can be found for $1 or $2 and it isn’t uncommon to buy large lots of these for much less than that.
The Ruth card offers collectors a chance at an affordable issue of the Babe during his playing days. Even in mid-grade condition, Ruth cards from the set can be bought for around $100-$150.
Aside from the Ruth card, the Japanese baseball player, hockey, and the boxing match with Schmeling and Sharkey are generally the cards most sought after. Those can usually be purchased in the $5-$10 range. There’s also a card of well-known figure skater Sonja Henie.
Plenty of complete sets exist as well, though you are more a little more likely to see sets still affixed to an album instead of individually. The values of those sets always depends mostly on the condition of the Ruth. Full sets without Ruth can usually be found in the $50-$75 range.
You can see 1932 Sanella singles, lots and sets for sale on eBay here.