Most pre-war cards are scarce to some degree. The 1910 E105 Mello-Mint set, however, is a difficult find by even those standards. Here’s an inside look at the 50-card issue.
Mello-Mint (more specifically, Smith’s Mello-Mint) was nicknamed “The Texas Gum.” Texas Gum Company, Inc. based in Temple, Texas is named as the manufacturer of the E105 Mello-Mint set.
The cards include colorful pictures on the fronts with the player’s name, position, and team across the bottom, which is standard for other candy issues of the era. The backs are somewhat more decorative than other candy cards, though. While many sets included checklists or only text on the backs, the Mello-Mint cards feature a large logo for the company that takes up approximately half of the card. Backs are printed horizontally (as opposed to a vertical layout, which most cards utilized) and entirely with green ink. They state that there are 50 cards in the set and that one was included in each five-cent package of gum.
Similarities/Differences To E101 Cards
The American Card Catalog states that these cards are similar to the E92 issue. However, the cards have since been identified to be more related to the E101 set, using the same exact pictures and players. Part of the reason it is difficult to state these are the same as the E92 issue is because there are actually four different sets identified as E92 cards (those with Dockman, Nadja, Croft Candy, and Croft Cocoa backs). The E92 cards do share the same artwork as E101, but also draw from some other sets as well since a total of more than 50 cards are in the four sets (and E101 has only 50 cards).
There are three distinct differences between these cards and the E101 set, though. First, Mello-Mint cards are printed on a thinner card stock. For that reason, it isn’t too uncommon to find these with rips or tears.
Additionally, at 1 3/8″ wide x 2 5/8″ tall, the Mello-Mint cards are a bit smaller than the E101s. The difference isn’t tremendous but they do measure slightly smaller. Finally, those aforementioned backs are much different than the E101 cards. Whereas the Mello-Mint cards have the green-ink decorative backing, E101 cards simply state the following with no other identification:
“This card is one of a set of 50 Base Ball Players – prominent members of National and American Leagues”
Even with only 50 cards in the set, the Mello-Mint release is full of Hall of Famers. Among them are Chief Bender, Frank Chance, Ty Cobb, Eddie Collins, Sam Crawford, Johnny Evers, Hughie Jennings, Nap Lajoie, Christy Mathewson, John McGraw, Joe Tinker, Honus Wagner, and Cy Young. Some other stars of the era are included, too. The biggest among them is former New York Highlanders and Yankees star Hal Chase. Chase’s cards are often valued as those of a Hall of Famer and his Mello-Mint card is no exception.
The set has a few variations, too, including a pair of Hall of Famers. The biggest player with a variation is Wagner, who has both throwing and batting variations. Behind him is Bender, who is found with both a plain hat and a striped version. Non-Hall of Famers with variations include Larry Doyle (throwing and batting version) and Dots Miller (fielding and batting variations).
As such a rare issue, Mello-Mint cards are not cheap by any stretch. The cards of Wagner and Cobb are the most desirable with Mathewson not far behind. Last year, a Cobb PSA 1 sold for over $4,000. This past November, a Wagner PSA 3 drew nearly $5,000.
In respectable mid-grade condition, it is difficult to find commons for much less than $500 or so. Other stars and Hall of Famers are significantly more, depending on the player and condition of the card involved. Even in low grade, the cards often will fetch a few hundred dollars. They’re not plentiful on eBay but there are a few.