Adrian C. “Cap” Anson was one of baseball’s first true superstars. A .334 hitter, Anson led the league in all sorts of categories during his Hall of Fame career (often, more than once), including hits, batting average, on base percentage, doubles, and OPS. He led the league in RBI eight times.
While he was not known for his progressive views on racial equality, he’s considered one of the best players of all-time and an important figure in baseball history. Anson was active from the 1870s to 1897 and still holds multiple Chicago Cubs team records.
Since he played in the 19th century, there aren’t a lot of Cap Anson baseball cards but here are five to know:
N172 Old Judge (Uniform variation)
While Anson has a portrait card in the set picturing him in a suit, his ultra rare card in the issue is this one picturing him in uniform. A total of four have been graded by PSA and SGC, and it is one of the rarest baseball cards around. One sold in 2001 for more than $66,000.
If you’re looking for something a little easier to find, Anson’s second card in the set where he is out of uniform is seen much more often. In 2015, an SGC 50 sold for a little under $6,000.
1888 N162 Goodwin Champions
Often regarded as one of the best-looking baseball card sets of all time, Anson’s card in the issue is at the top of many collectors’ lists for the nicest one in the entire release.
This multi-sport set includes all kinds of subjects but there is little doubt that the baseball cards are the most desired. Cap Anson’s is not only incredible to look at but features in full color here with a bright, unique sky behind him. Most cards in the set are very colorful and this one is no exception.
The card is expensive but not ridiculously so given its age and importance. A PSA 3 sold last year for about $2,600.
1888 N28 Allen & Ginter
Another classic contemporary card of Anson is found in the 1888 Allen & Ginter N28 set. The image featuring the baseball legend is a modified one that has been seen on other issues. The half-body shot is desirable as it features Anson wielding a bat as opposed to a portrait pose, which is seen on so many of his cards.
The Allen & Ginter set is a pre-war favorite and its popularity is evident with modern issues bearing that label being produced today. Prices on the card have fluctuated a bit but last year, several PSA 4 examples sold between $2,000 – $3,000. A few can usually be found on eBay.
1888 E223 G&B Gum
Speaking of that same image, it is seen here on the rare E223 G&B Gum card featuring Cap Anson. Similar in appearance to the Old Judge issues, this unique set is often cited as the first gum card issue. The card with Anson features him in that familiar pose, only a full body picture as opposed to the cropped, color shot found in the N28 Allen & Ginter release.
This card is much rarer than most and appears to be on par with Anson’s uniform card in the N172 Old Judge issue. Only two have been graded by SGC (none by PSA) and the card is incredibly scarce, as are most from that rare set. The card’s value is truly up in the air with little known about its recent sale history.
Another attractive Anson card is found in the stunning, black-bordered N300 Mayo set. The card features a striking portrait pose with Anson in uniform and is a popular card for collectors not able to find or afford the rare uniform N172 card.
A sepia pose of the superstar is featured against a blank background and the trademark black borders of the Mayo’s Cut Plug set. Issued in 1895, the card does not come cheap. A PSA 5 sold last year for nearly $5,500.
The Mayo is another card that can often be seen on eBay.