The D146 Doughnut Corporation of America Thrilling Moments set included some of the country’s top personalities and landmark events. While the issue is often overlooked by sports card collectors, several athletes here make this set worth your while.
D146 Doughnut Corporation of America Basics
These unique cards were classified by Jefferson Burdick as a bakery issue, D146, because they were distributed by a doughnut manufacturer. The cards were produced near the end of the pre-war era in 1937 and printed on the backs of the company’s boxes of doughnuts. While often shortened to the ‘Thrilling Moments” set, the full name of the issue is actually called “Thrilling Moments in the Lives of Famous Americans.”
The cards included color but only partially and usually in the background. Images were largely printed in black and white and the cards measured nearly 2″ wide by 3″ tall. A total of 72 are found in the set with four per each box panel.
Because they were printed in panels and, thus, hand cut, these can be found with uneven cut edges or even torn ones, similar to strip cards 1910s and 1920s strip card issues. A premium is usually given for clean cut cards. You can also sometimes be fortunate enough to find uncut panels.
You can see what the boxes looked like here.
It should be noted that many collectors were careful when cutting them from the boxes. An album was available for this set where collectors could display their cards. That likely provided some incentive for them to be carefully removed.
Baseball, Football, and More
While the set is often classified as a non-sports release, that isn’t true. Most of the release is made of non-sports personalities, including presidents and famous inventors. However, the real value of the issue is in the athletes.
Leading the way is baseball Hall of Fame slugger Babe Ruth. Ruth’s card features him in the middle of his iconic swing playing inside of an unidentified stadium with a catcher behind him. His card, as it often is, is easily the key to the entire set. All of the cards in the set are captioned and Ruth’s reads, ‘Beloved baseball idol of all boys.’
There’s more than the Babe here, though, for the average sports collector. The well-known 1935 National Chicle football issue is considered by most to be the first full set featuring only football players. This set features some of the earliest NFL cards as it was produced only two years following that release. The D146 set also did a fantastic job of picking two of the biggest names in the sport for inclusion in Red Grange and Knute Rockne. Grange’s card is set against a blue background and calls him ‘A football hero of undying fame.’ Rockne’s has an orange background with the caption, ‘The football world will never forget him.’ Rockne’s card was created posthumously as he was tragically killed in a plane crash on his way to the filming of ‘The Spirit of Notre Dame.’
A few other notable athletes are included here, too, as boxing legends Jack Dempsey and John Sullivan, golfer Bobby Jones, and tennis star Bill Tilden lead a cast of athletes in sports not included in the ‘Big 4’ sports.
D146 Doughnut Corporation of America Prices
Because they were printed on the exterior of doughnut boxes, unfortunately the bulk of these cards were likely discarded. Since they are rare, prices are a little higher than you might expect for a late 1930s issue that is similar to a strip card set. Ruth’s card is the most expensive in the issue and can approach four figures in decent condition. An uncut panel featuring Ruth sold for just under that amount at a Heritage Auction. The albums and football cards are also heavily sought after as well. An album with ten cards inside (including a Knute Rockne) along with a four-card panel sold for nearly $1,200.
You can see a few cards on eBay here.