Pre-war strip cards can often be unattractive, a bit difficult to understand, and, well, just a little strange in general. All of those traits apply to the 1928 W565 strip card set. Here’s a closer look at this unique issue from the 1920s.
About the W565 strip card set
Believed to have been printed in 1928, there’s no doubt that the W565 strip card set is a little on the unique side — even compared to other strip issues. The cards, for the most part, have a playing card design. That is similar to some others, like the W560 strip cards, for example. However, a few cards in the set don’t follow that design. More on that in a bit.
Exactly how many cards are in the set seems to be a point of debate. Some sources mention there are a total of 50 cards in it while others say 100. Others, such as Old Cardboard, believe there are at least 75 confirmed. We can safely say there are, at the very least, 50. Uncut sheets are known to exist demonstrate that, with one 25-card sheet of red ink cards (hearts and diamonds) and 25-card sheets of black-ink cards (clubs and spades). It is possible that there are actually two W565 strip card sets — one part of a multi-sport set with athletes and a second consisting entirely of movie stars. The second known W565 sheet of black ink cards includes only movie stars and some of the cards (i.e. Jack of Spades) picture different subjects on the two sheets of black cards.
Regardless of how many cards there are, the set is largely a non-sports one, comprised of many actors and actresses. But the set has its share of baseball players and boxers, too, and those are really the keys. The baseball players are among a handful of cards that do not have a playing card design. No reason for that, however, is known.
The aesthetics on the strip cards are not particularly attractive. Each card is monotone in color, printed either red or black. Further, pictures of the subjects are inside of the shape of their suit. For example, subjects on the diamond cards are pictured inside of a diamond border. Subjects on hearts, clubs, and spades are pictured inside of shapes with those borders. The pictures are often poor ones and, to some degree of annoyance, the font size for the subject names varies. Some have more of a standard type of print while others are typewritten. Others, still, are handwritten. Even the way the names are presented is not uniform as some have full names with others having only last names.
All backs of the cards are blank and have dark blue backs.
The W565 Athletes
Without a doubt, the baseball players and boxers are the highlights of the W565 strip card set. Some non-sports subjects, such as Charlie Chaplin, command interest. But the real value of this set is in the sports cards. And in those baseball and boxing subsets, the baseball cards are the ones that attract most collectors.
The four baseball players included are all Hall of Famers — Lou Gehrig, Al Simmons, Harry Heilmann, and Tony Lazzeri. Gehrig, of course, commands the most attention. Three of the four baseball cards are on red sheets and the lone exception is Heilmann, who is on black.
The popularity of boxing in the 1920s was far greater than it is today. That helps to explain the reason that more boxers are actually featured in the set than baseball players. In all, five boxers are included, though the names are not quite as imposing as they could be. Boxers in the set include Benny Leonard, Young Stribling, Izzy Schwartz, Al Singer, and Ace Hudkins. Jack Dempsey, one of the primary boxing stars of the 1920s had ended his career in 1927. Similarly, Gene Tunney’s career ended in 1928. On the surface, that seems as if it could have been the reason for their absences. But Leonard is featured in the set and he had retired in 1925 (before making a comeback in the early 1930s).
In general, there are nine accepted athletes in the W565 strip card set but a tenth could include actor Reginald Denny. Denny is called a “Universal Star” on his card but he was an amateur boxing champion and also an aviator. Denny, in fact, is actually pictured as an aviator on his card.
W565 Strip Card Prices
Cards in this set are relatively inexpensive. Common non-sports subjects can be bought for as little as a few bucks. Even the sports figures are not too pricey. The cards aren’t overly common but when available, the boxers often start in the $5-$10 range.
The baseball cards are the most valuable but, with the exception of Gehrig, all three of the others can be found in the $50-$100 range. Gehrig’s card is the priciest. His can usually be found starting at a few hundred dollars but high-grade Gehrig’s can be significantly more. A PSA 9, for example, recently sold for more than $2,000 on eBay. You can see what’s currently for sale and auction here.