There were a multitude of international sports card tobacco sets issued in the pre-War era. Many of those sets are multi-sport releases featuring all sorts of athletes from around the globe. One of the tougher such issues is the 1932 Abdulla Sport Records set.
About the 1932 Abdulla Sport Records Set
This German tobacco card issue was released in 1932 by Abdulla and Co. to promote their cigarette products. The formal name of this set is National und Internationale Sport-Rekorde, which, translated, is National and International Sports Records. Today, the set is mostly known as the Abdulla Sport Records set.
The cards have an incredibly understated look to them. The fronts include a sepia style photograph on the front with a generous white border around the edges. The athlete’s name and his/her country is printed at the bottom.
Backs of the cards have the title of the set at the top, as well as the subject’s name, card number, country, and sport. Backs also indicate that a collector’s album for the cards was available by going to cigar shops or by mailing postage stamps. This was a relatively common practice with many companies doing the same for other international tobacco card sets. Of course, all print on the cards is in German.
Stars and Checklist
The tobacco set is unusually large with a total of 200 cards in it. Many of the subjects are of little importance to most collectors as they are from Olympic related sports. More than half of the set, for example, features track and field stars and swimmers. Additionally, given that the set includes athletes from all over the world, most names will not even be all that recognizable. Other sports in the set featured include aviation, weight lifting, cycling, and racing, among others.
For most collectors, the focus is on the final cards in the release. The last ten cards are where the majority of big names reside. And specifically, the cards of three Americans in particular command quite a bit of attention.
Headlining that group is the legendary baseball star Babe Ruth (Card No. 196) of the New York Yankees. He is the only baseball player found in the entire set but there are certainly some other cards of value here. Other important cards include golf Hall of Famer Bobby Jones (No. 200), German boxer Max Schmeling and tennis Hall of Famer Bill Tilden (No. 195). Additionally, famous figure skater and Olympic Champion Sonja Henie is found on Card No. 193. And while on the subject, other Olympic champions can be found in the set, too.
There are a few other cards scattered elsewhere in the set that do attract some attention. Famous swimmer and actor Johnny Weissmuller is found on Card No. 45. Aviator Charles Lindbergh is another popular subject and he’s found on card No. 102. Finally, while the cards of Ruth, Jones, and Tilden are key for Americans, the card of Schmeling, a German champion, would have been the prize for many German collectors, of course. He is found on Card No. 109 in the set.
It should be noted that while most cards in the set would not be affected by forgeries, plenty of counterfeit Ruth cards are around. That, given its value, is unsurprising. Collectors looking for an authentic Ruth should consider that — particularly when buying a raw example.
Rarity and Pricing
All of the cards in the set are incredibly rare. You will usually only find a handful available on eBay and the cards are tough to find even from dealers and shops specializing in vintage.
So how many of the cards have been graded? Can that tell us anything about the rarity? At the time of this article, PSA has graded only 88 cards in the set — but that is a bit misleading. Many of the cards feature obscure subjects that are not likely to be graded. And because their value is not terribly high, even commons in great condition are rarely graded.
Still, the pop reports can be somewhat helpful because even valuable cards have not been graded all that much. To date, only 20 Ruth cards have been graded by PSA. Jones has seen only a few more of his cards graded. That confirms that the cards are truly difficult to find.
The cards can be quite valuable, thanks in part to the rarity. A raw Bobby Jones card recently sold on eBay for more than $500. Ruth’s card is, of course, king. Even in low-grade condition, it is difficult to find for less than $1,000. A couple of graded Ruth cards are listed on eBay as of right now.
Beyond the stars, however, the set is mostly quite affordable. Commons from the set usually sell for very little, often in the $1-$2 range.