In 1924, Willard’s Chocolates produced one of the top Canadian sports cards of the pre-war era. Here’s a closer look at this tough issue that has grown in popularity over the years.
1924 V122 Willard’s Sports Champions Overview
Issued in 1924, the Willard’s Sports Champions set was produced by candy maker Willard’s Chocolates in Canada. The set includes 56 cards and, as a Canadian candy issue, was cataloged as V122 in the American Card Catalog.
The cards have an utterly unique look to them. Measuring approximately 1 3/8″ x 3 3/8″, they are tall and narrow (or long and narrow, in the case of horizontal cards). Like other early 1920s sets, the utilized real black and white images. Fronts of the cards have the athlete’s name inside a box and also a card number. Backs of the cards are entirely blank.
Overall, the cards are not too easy to find. eBay will generally not have more than a couple dozen at any given time and PSA and SGC have not even combined to grade 1,000 of these.
A Multitude of Sports
The multi-sport set predated the 1933 Goudey Sports Kings issue by about a decade. While many consider that to be an incredible set (it is), this one certainly holds its own in terms of star power.
Leading the way in the set are baseball icons Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb. There are only three baseball players in it but if you’re featuring that sport, those are the two guys at that time that you’d most want to include. The third baseball player is another worthy addition in Hall of Famer Eddie Collins.
Of note here is that, by comparison with the 1933 Goudey Sport Kings set, the Cobb in the V122 Willard’s issue is a better card (in part) as it still features him during his playing days. Cobb’s Sport Kings card is a key one in the set, but he had stopped playing about five years prior to its release.
But there’s more than just baseball in this power-packed issue. Early basketball fans are treated to a card of the famous Edmonton Grads women’s basketball team and that card is one of the more popular ones in the entire set. One of the winningest teams of all time, the Grads were considered to be the first women’s basketball world champions. Also included were a few hockey cards, including Canadian greats Hooley Smith, Dunc Munro, and Harry Watson. Beyond that, there’s still plenty more to see here, including Hall of Fame tennis players Bill Tilden and Helen Wills.
There’s little doubt that Ruth and Cobb are the keys here but if you collect more than baseball, there is an abundance of other stars as well. As far as multi-sport sets go, this is one of the better ones from the pre-war era.
Collecting This Set is Not for the Weak
If you’re a set collector, this is not an easy one to assemble – despite the fact that it contains only 56 cards. While you will see them around, the cards are not all that plentiful. And because of their rarity, prices are often pretty steep once you get beyond the commons.
You can often find half-decent V122 commons under $50 but the bigger names will cost you. It is quite easy to spend more than $100 on even the stars from less notable sports as you get into the mid-grade condition cards. The Ruth and Cobb are generally the most expensive. A modest Babe Ruth PSA 3, for example, recently sold for more than $2,100.