Caramel cards, in general, are much rarer than tobacco cards. Millions and millions of tobacco cards were stuffed into cigarette packages while caramel cards were usually printed in smaller quantities. As a result, caramel baseball card issues are often more expensive despite the fact that tobacco cards are more popular. Even though caramel cards aren’t all that inexpensive, there are some good deals to be had. Pre-War Hall of Famers for under $200? Count us in.
Here are five relative bargains.
John McGraw E121 American Caramel
The E121 American Caramel sets (Set of 80 and Set of 120) are a good source for affordable caramel cards. These black and white cards were printed on a card stock that wasn’t all that durable so finding high-grade cards can be challenging. But mid-grade cards from these two early 1920s sets aren’t too hard to find and some of the Hall of Famers are even pretty affordable in that condition.
One is the legendary John McGraw and his card can be found in decent condition for a low price.
Greasy Neale E120 American Caramel
Neale’s name here will surprise many collectors. While he did play some baseball, Neale is probably more known for being a Pro Football Hall of Famer. He split his time in baseball and football, spending eight years in the big leagues and playing and also playing and coaching in pro football. Neale was also a legendary collegiate coach, leading teams in football, basketball, and baseball. He is a member of both the college and pro football halls of fame.
Despite his status in football, his appeal hasn’t translated over into his baseball cards too much. In mid-grade condition, his card is usually under $100.
Honus Wagner E254 Colgan’s Chips
Wagner’s name is not generally synonymous with affordability. The Flying Dutchman was one of the top players of his generation and his cards are often priced accordingly based on that. In other words, they’re usually quite expensive. But if you’re looking for an affordable Wagner caramel card, you might not find a more inexpensive one than his E254 Colgan’s Chips card. In fact, we featured it in a piece called “A Honus for the Rest of Us” a while back.
Produced in 1909-11, these disc-shaped cards were printed in this manner to fit into Colgan’s Chips round packaging.
In low-grade condition, Wagner’s card starts at only a few hundred dollars. The card featuring a portrait image of the Hall of Famer still isn’t too bad in better condition, either, for a playing-era Wagner caramel issue. You can usually find a couple for sale on eBay.
Bobby Wallace E90-1 American Caramel
Numerous Hall of Famers are found in the E90-1 American Caramel set. Issued in 1909-11, the release remains one of the most popular caramel card sets today.
Wallace is one of the many Cooperstown inductees found here. And for whatever reason, his card is plentiful compared to others in the set. Only a handful of other Hall of Famers have had their cards graded more often by PSA than Wallace’s. His E90-1 is routinely seen on sites such as eBay.
Babe Ruth 1930 Baguer Chocolates
Like Wagner, finding affordable Ruth cards isn’t too easy. There are some inexpensive Ruth cards to be had but finding affordable caramels featuring the iconic slugger isn’t easy.
One exception to that is sometimes found in the 1930 Baguer Chocolate set. A Cuban issue, these cards have started gaining more popularity in the U.S. Measuring less than 1″ on all four sides, there is no doubt that these are not your standard-sized caramel cards. Still, they are a legitimate candy card of Ruth during his playing days, regardless of the size. While prices fluctuate a bit due to their rarity, they are sometimes found at bargain prices. In 2016, a PSA 4 sold for only a little more than $400. That was a little lower than the norm for these cards but decent copies can be found for a price that’s usually far lower than a typical card from Ruth’s playing days.