In 1888, Kimball produced its Kimball Champions set, known today as the N184 release. As a special supplement premium item to that set, the company produced the A42 Kimball Album for collectors. Here’s a closer look at the unique item.
The N184 Kimball Champions product was a set of 50 cards produced for packs of W.S. Kimball Company’s packages of cigarettes. The release included a variety of sports, but the most popular cards from the set are those of the four baseball players. The N184 cards featured color images of various athletes and were printed on thick cardstock that measured approximately 1 1/2″ x 2 3/4″.
As a special premium supplement, the company produced a commemorative album. The album (catalogued as the A42 issue by Jefferson Burdick in the American Card Catalog) contained pictures of the 50 cards from their N184 set.
The album is not a large one, by any means. Measuring just under 5″ wide and 7 1/2″ tall, it’s more of a large booklet than a traditional-sized album. The cover featured a pair of women standing along the shore of a body of water and the words “Champions of Sports and Games” were printed along the top. The W.S. Kimball name was printed along the bottom as was their location in Rochester, NY. Albums were bound by a simple piece of string.
Albums, like others of the era, were likely available by redeeming coupons from the company’s tobacco products. As with other albums, some have been cut up over the years by anxious collectors. The cut out cards do have some value but are not worth nearly as much as the actual cards.
The main stars in the A42 Kimball Album are, of course, the same ones from the N184 issue. Key cards include the four baseball players, Dell Darling, E.A. Burch, Hardie Henderson, and James O’Neill. The baseball players weren’t big-time stars and are relatively lackluster by comparison to other popular 19th Century issues, such as the N28 and N162 sets, which had several Hall of Famers. Still, the fact that they are baseball players has made them desirable to collectors.
Those are the biggest cards for most collectors but a few others of significance are included as well. Rifle shooter Annie Oakley is one of those. Boxers Jack Dempsey and John L. Sullivan are also heavily desired.
A42 Kimball Album Prices
A42 Kimball Albums are not easy to come by but they do surface at auctions from time to time. When they do, the price fluctuates due to interest at that particular time and, of course, condition.
Since the albums were bound by only pieces of string, it isn’t too uncommon to find these albums missing pages or to see individual pages for sale or auction. Complete albums usually start in the $1,000 condition if they are in decent shape. One sold for about $1,000 several years ago while a better-conditioned one brought nearly $2,000.
Those individual pages, by the way, have value, too. Two pages featuring all four of the baseball players and some of the boxers sold for just over $250.