The American Caramel Company helped lead the transition from baseball cards being used as mostly tobacco inserts to candy and caramel issues that could be geared more towards children. The company produced numerous sets from the 1900s through the 1920s. Here’s a look at the five most popular ones.
E90 American Caramel
The E90 set actually consists of three separate issues known today as E90-1, E90-2, and E90-3. E90-1 is by far the most plentiful of the three and is also easily American Caramel’s most popular set. The issue includes colorful pictures and is known for producing Joe Jackson’s rookie card.
E90-2 and E90-3 were much smaller and more focused. E90-2 celebrated the Pittsburgh Pirates, who had won the World Series in 1909 while E90-3 featured players from the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox. All three issues were produced from 1909-11.
E90-1 is by far the most widely collected. But amassing a complete set is not easily done because of numerous cards believed to have been shortprinted and difficult to find – not to mention the Jackson card, which usually sells for more than $10,000, even in low-grade condition.
E91 American Caramel
Like E90, the E91 American Caramel set is actually three sets with one classification. Today, we know them as E91A (produced in 1908), E91B (1909), and E91C (1910). Despite the later classification, the first ones were actually produced before E90.
This set is known for generic images of players as the pictures were used for more than one player across the sets. Burdick actually called this the ‘Faked Design’ set.
The set doesn’t include players from every team, so it’s missing several big names, such as Ty Cobb and Cy Young. But it does have a lot of stars, including Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson. These cards are significantly rarer than the popular E90-1 issue and with 99 cards in all (33 in each set), not easy to assemble.
E106 American Caramel
The E106 American Caramel set included a total of 48 cards and had a similar look to the company’s successful E90-1 cards. Cards have colorful pictures and the company got away from its ‘faked design’ look in the E91 series. But while they didn’t use the same pictures for other players in the same set, these pictures did show up in other issues, such as the Tango Eggs set.
Produced in 1915, the cards aren’t scarce but also aren’t real easy to find. The set includes plenty of big names and the highlights are two different Ty Cobb cards as well as a pair of different Honus Wagner issues. Those four make completing an already difficult set even tougher.
E120 American Caramel
Produced in 1922, American Caramel got away from its colorful cards and started producing black and white/sepia issues using real pictures instead of artwork for its E120 set.
The cards were also larger and, seemingly produced in larger quantities and with 240 cards, it is one of the largest (if not, ‘the’ largest) caramel issue out there. Card fronts featured sepia pictures or black and white images of players. They are easily identified by their unique, decorative borders.
The pictures were popular and peddled for all sorts of other sets. Other sets using them had them printed with blank backs and they are often called W573 cards.
E121 American Caramel
While Jefferson Burdick categorized this set as E121, it actually predated the E120 issue. Produced in 1921-22, this was another large, black and white set distributed by the American Caramel Company.
This is easily American Caramel’s most confusing issue. There are actually two different sets as indicated in the backs. Some backs mention a set of 80 while others mention a set of 120. Ironically, there are more than 80 and 120 cards in each of the respective sets. A complete checklist is murky but more than 250 cards are known.
Like the E120 issue, these cards were used by other companies as well. They were printed with either blank backs or different advertisements for the companies using them. In all, there are more than a dozen different backs, some much rarer than others.