1909 saw Honus Wagner and the Pittsburgh Pirates defeat Ty Cobb’s Detroit Tigers in seven games to win their first championship in the modern era. The following year, Ward Baking/Ward-Mackey, created the D322 Tip Top Bread set for its Tip Top bread brand. Here’s a closer look at that set.
In terms of design, the D322 Tip Top Bread cards looked a little different than other issues in the same era. Caramel and tobacco cards ruled in terms of baseball cards and generally had a thin, rectangular shape. Measuring approximately 1 3/4″ wide by 2 3/8″ tall, the Tip Top cards were much closer to today’s measurements in terms of the width/height ratio and wider than many other cards from the same time period.
Aside from that, the cards were mostly standard on the front. A large color lithograph of a player was used and in the border area at the bottom was the player’s last name and the phrase ‘World’s Champions’ to signify the Pirates’ World Series championship win over the Tigers.
The backs were helpful in that they included a full checklist of the 25 cards in the set. It isn’t clear if/how the individual cards were distributed to collectors but the back advertises that a full set of the cards could be obtained free of charge by sending in 50 Tip Top bread labels.
The set, of course, features only players from the Pittsburgh Pirates. While there aren’t too many big names in the set, one of the game’s biggest stars in Honus Wagner is included. Wagner is joined by fellow Hall of Famer and player/manager Fred Clarke.
Even without the presence of many big names since the set was limited to only one team, there are also several other interesting cards here. The set checklist actually begins with two front office personnel – president Barney Dreyfuss and secretary William Locke. Dreyfuss’ card in particular is a significant one in that he is also a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He is generally credited as being the creator for the World Series and he helped the Pirates to two championships and five World Series appearances.
The last two cards in the set are unique as well. Card No. 24 is titled the ‘Tip Top Boy Mascot’ and features a young child with an apron and a hat that reads, ‘The Tip Top Boy.’ The final card in the set features the Pirates’ home, Forbes Field. The card’s significance should also not be overlooked because 1909 was the year the stadium was opened. This is a Forbes Field rookie card of sorts.
D322 Tip Top Bread Prices
Most early bread issues are scarce and the D322 Tip Top Bread set is no exception. Judging by how many are left today, cards were either destroyed or many sets were simply not distributed via the redemption program.
Mid-grade commons in lesser condition generally start around $150-$200 and work their way upwards depending on condition. The big fish in the set is easily the Honus Wagner card. An SGC 50/4 example sold at auction in 2015 for more than $17,000.