Pre-war cards are often expensive and often something that the average collector avoids. But there are numerous affordable options to collect as well and some of those include supplements. While several can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, plenty are affordable and can be had for under $50.
Supplements were inserts that were added to publications as a type of ‘bonus’ to readers. Many supplements were pictures of non-sports subjects but quite a few were baseball players. While they are generally photographs and are larger than your typical cards, they are some of the most affordable pre-war collectibles.
Because some supplements were folded into publications, finding some specific issues without creasing is a virtual impossibility. However, other smaller ones did not require folding and can be found in better condition.
Here’s a look at three of the more popular (and least expensive) ones.
Sporting News produced several sets of supplements but perhaps the most common and affordable option to collectors is the series cataloged as M101-2.
These supplements are sepia style photographs of players and were produced over several years. One great thing about them is that they are approximately 8″ x 10″ in size and not overly large like some issues. They can be easily stored in toploaders and even inserted into some single-pocket pages allowing for binder storage.
The supplements, like many others, are printed on thin paper stock so they are easily damaged with too much handling. It also means you’ll commonly find these with tears or rips, particularly around the edges.
100 pictures are believed to be in the set and the series includes some incredible pictures of players from the early 1900s. Ty Cobb, Joe Jackson, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, Cy Young, Nap Lajoie, Tris Speaker, Addie Joss, and Walter Johnson are just a few of the big names you’ll find in this issue. While most of the supplements feature only a single picture of a player some feature two or even an entire team.
Commons can be found in the $20 or $30 range and even some Hall of Famers in decent shape are as little as $40-$50. There are numerous Sporting News Supplements on eBay.
1928-33 La Presse Supplements
These supplements were printed in Montreal’s La Presse publication. As this was a Canadian issue, both hockey and baseball are found in the series, among other subjects. These supplements are in stark contrast to the M101-2s as they were printed in color and are significantly larger at approximately 11″ x 18″.
This series was printed over several years in the 1920s and early 1930s. While professional hockey and baseball players were featured, the publication also featured many minor league players, including those on Montreal’s International League team.
Several big names and Hall of Famers are found in the release, including Babe Ruth. Other Hall of Famers featured included Lefty Grove, Chuck Klein, and Hack Wilson, A Ruth recently sold on eBay for more than $300 but many commons and lesser known players are in the $20-$30 range.
1901-17 National Police Gazette Supplements (M128)
The 1901-17 National Police Gazette supplements ran for nearly two decades. Numerous subjects were captured on them and the series includes more than 100 baseball photographs. These supplements are also a little larger (approximately 12″ x 17″), requiring some creativity for storage options.
With so many baseball players included, you’d expect to run into plenty of big names and that’s the case here. The series included a virtual Who’s Who of baseball players with supplements featuring Ty Cobb, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson, Nap Lajoie, Zack Wheat, Sam Crawford, Eddie Collins, George Sisler, and many more. Also featured is football legend Jim Thorpe, who also played some baseball.
Like the others, prices generally start around $25 for common players but supplements featuring other athletes and non-sports personalities are often a little cheaper.