Recently, I wrote a three-part series about the explosion of baseball cards in 1909. Headlined by the famous T206 set, that tobacco card era represented the first big boom in trading cards in the 20th century.
But it wasn’t the first time there was a decided focus on baseball cards. In the 1930s, tobacco cards were out and gum/candy cards were in. And if you’re looking for a year that defined the later candy/gum era, it’s certainly 1933 when a slew of issues was created. Most collectors tend to think of the 1933 Goudey set but that year included so many more releases.
The first part of this series focused on the popular articles from 1933. This one will look at the lesser known ones from that year.
1933 Tattoo Orbit Sets
Two different Tattoo Orbit Gum baseball card sets were offered in 1933 and the difference between the two is striking.
The most popular of the two is the R305, a larger, somewhat colorful set of square-like cards, which were similar in the era. The other was a smaller set of more rectangular looking cards that featured self-developing pictures of players.
Both sets are some popular with collectors that are familiar with them, but the smaller set with sepia toned images (R308) is rarer than the larger more colorful (R305) release. That smaller set, by the way, is actually part of a larger overall Tattoo Orbit set that also featured non-sports subjects. Each of these baseball card releases include plenty of big names. However, the iconic Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig are missing in action from both releases.
Both sets are relatively affordable with even stars able to be found at prices starting under $100.
1933 Butter Cream
Winner of the most distinctive shape of card from this article certainly goes to the 1933 Butter Cream Confectionery set. Measuring approximately 1 1/4″ by 3 5/8″, these narrow cards look almost like bookmarks with baseball players.
The set includes a total of only 30 cards but is not easy to complete by any means. It not only has big names, including Babe Ruth, but is a rare set with cards not easily found. Ruth’s card, ironically, is one of the harder ones to find.
Each card features a black and white player image on the front. Backs sort of explain why these cards may be difficult to locate. They included the mention of a contest where collectors were supposed to guess player statistics and mail their cards in, presumably for a prize. Many cards today are found with small holes in them, which could indicate they were redeemed and returned. But it is possible that some were discarded once they were returned with the holes — if they were returned at all.
If Butter Cream cards win the award for the most unique shape, Eclipse cards probably win the award for the ugliest set featured in this article.
The good news is that the checklist includes the legendary Babe Ruth. The bad news is that Ruth’s may be one of the ugliest cards you’ll ever see, as I’ve written here.
The cards are undeniably rare, which makes them somewhat valuable. Even lower-grade commons typically start in the $30-$50 range and stars/Hall of Famers can easily top $100. And that Ruth card? Just because it’s ugly doesn’t mean it’s cheap. Even in low-grade condition, the card starts in the $1,000-$2,000 range — if you can even find it. To date, PSA has graded only 19 of the Ruth cards.
1933 Uncle Jacks
Uncle Jacks candy cards are yet another rarer baseball card set from 1933.
These cards have distinctive single-color tints with images in colors, including red, green, blue, and purple. The impressive checklist is headed by the likes of Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Cochrane, Rogers Hornsby, and several other Hall of Famers.
These cards have only recently made its way in the collector spotlight. In the 1980s, a box of unopened packs of them was reportedly found that likely increased the awareness of them. These packs were merely cellophane so collectors could easily see which card was inside. Packs are rarely offered but do occasionally make their way into the public, including one that was auctioned last year showing Ruth.
While Ruth’s card is the key, any Uncle Jacks card is worth money. Even commons from the set in decent shape typically start at over $100.
These cards were an offering from Rittenhouse Candy but they have a decidedly strip card look and feel to them. Quality of the cardboard is low and the print job was a low-quality one, to be sure.
Made inexpensively, they are similar to the W560 strip card set, which was issued a few years earlier and has a playing card design. An easy way to distinguish the two sets, however, is the back. Rittenhouse Candy offered a promotion, giving away prizes for collectors who could spell the company’s name using letters found on the backs of the cards. Each card included a different letter.
The cards are similar to the late 1920s W560 cards but are certainly more difficult to find, perhaps in part to the redemption offer. However, they are not quite as rare as others found in this article and commons usually start around $20-$30.
1933 C.A. Briggs
As opposed to the Rittenhouse cards, the 1933 C.A. Briggs cards are a much harder find. In fact, they are among the rarer sets covered in this article.
The set is not a baseball one by any means, but it does include a rare card of Babe Ruth. Instead, this is a multi-sport release and the set is so rare that even checklisting it has proven difficult. A total of 31 cards are believed to be in the entire set but I have never confirmed all 31 with two seemingly missing.
The Ruth image is a popular one and was used in many other pre-war sets. It is the same pose on his easier-to-find 1930s Sanella card. In addition to the Ruth baseball card, the rare set includes basketball, football, hockey, boxing, and other popular sports. While the Ruth card is undeniably the headliner, finding any card from the set is very difficult.