This column shows a number of posters, signs, magazine ads and other items that were used to advertise and promote baseball cards throughout the ages. These advertisements are collectible, rarer than the cards themselves, and often more valuable. Click to enlarge the images.
The below 1888 display poster advertises the N28 Allen & Ginter cigarette cards that included baseball stars, wrestler, boxers, Annie Oakley and more. This museum quality poster is ultra rare and would cost you tens of thousands of dollars.
The below two baseball game scorecards include advertising for the 1880s N172 Old Judge cigarette cards. 1800s scorecards themselves are collectible, and the Old Judge ads just make them more so.
The below ad in a 1909 Sporting Life magazine promotes the T206 baseball cards, including the Honus Wagner.
On the affordable but still highly displayable side is a small 1953 poster advertising the Red Man cards. It features New York Yankees star Johnny Mize. You can pick up an original one of these for under $100, but beware, there are many reprints on the market.
The below 1948 Exhibit Supply company display piece was put in the front of the exhibit machines that dispensed the cards. This piece for the Baseball’s Great Hall of Fame set pictures the cards of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Tris Speaker, Carl Hubbell and other all time greats.
The below is a small window display poster for the 1962 Bell Brand Los Angeles Dodgers cards, including stars Sandy Koufax and Duke Snider.
The below shows Topps and Bowman salesman samples. These were uncut strips with advertising on the backs. The advertising was sometimes printed directly onto the backs, but most often just pasted on. Traveling salesmen brought these along with them to promote the upcoming issues to stores. Salesman samples are highly collectible and can be found for many years in the 1950s-60s.
The below is a rare store window display poster advertising the 1975 Topps cards, including the cards of Thurman Munson, Gaylord Perry, Rich Allen, Al Kaline and Nolan Ryan. How would you like this to go along with your 1975 Topps set?
The examples in this column are just a small sampling of baseball card advertising, and a collector could specialize in just advertising pieces. There are a few examples, especially vintage baseball card salesman’s samples currently for sale on eBay.