Like the E101 Anonymous Set of 50, the 1908 E102 baseball set is also an unknown issue of sorts. And while there are striking similarities with several other caramel card sets, differences exist, too. Here’s a closer look at the set.
The E102 baseball card set is a 29-card (more on that in a bit) issue. The cards measure approximately 1 1/2″ x 2 3/4″ and fronts include a color lithograph of a particular player and his name, position, and team are printed along the bottom. Backs offer a complete list of the players in the release and for that reason, are incredibly helpful.
The E102 set shares images with several other releases, including the similarly anonymous E101 cards, the E92 (Croft/Dockman/Nadja) sets, and the E105 Mello Mint release. Because of that, it is impossible to discern to which set one of these cards belong by purely looking at the front.
But while the fronts are similar, this set varies in other ways from the other releases. First, it is the shortest issue among those four sets with only 29 cards. Second, and most importantly when trying to determine from which set these cards are, it is the only one of those aforementioned releases with a checklist on the back.
Despite being about half of the size as the E101 Anonymous set, there’s almost as much star power in this release. Wisely, the makers of the E102 set decided to fill this set with big names and that’s another thing that makes this such a valuable set. The E102 release includes Chief Bender, Hal Chase, Ty Cobb, Eddie Collins, Sam Crawford, Johnny Evers, Nap Lajoie, Christy Mathewson, Joe Tinker, and Honus Wagner. The Mathewson card, as it is in other sets, features an uncorrected error with his last name being spelled “Matthewson.”
25 vs. 29
Ask an inexperienced collector how many cards are in the E102 set and his/her answer, if they study the checklist on the back of the cards, is likely to be 25. After all, before the checklist appears on the back, the header of the E102 reverse reads;
“This Picture is one of a Set of twenty-five BASE BALL PLAYERS as follows”
However, if you read that phrase more closely, it only states that there are 25 players in the set – not 25 cards. 29 cards, in fact, are found in the release as four players (Honus Wagner, Larry Doyle, Dots Miller, and Boss Schmidt) each have two different cards. Schmidt’s cards both depict him with a glove, but Wagner, Doyle, and Miller all have a variation with a bat and a glove.
Therefore, the variations push the set to 29.
E102 cards are pretty rare and not easy to find. When you do see them, asking prices are often steep. Mid-grade commons are often in the $100 range with Hall of Famers, obviously, well beyond that figure. The two most expensive cards in the set are those of Cobb and Wagner. A Cobb SGC 50 sold at auction in 2015 for $4,425.
Complete sets are virtually impossible to find for sale. With only 29 cards, assembling a full set isn’t an impossible task. But the resale value is often greater when breaking the set up and that means for less complete sets on the open market. One low-grade set sold at auction about ten years ago for just over $5,000 with buyer’s premium.
You can see several dozen for sale and auction on eBay by clicking here.