Just about every decade has a baseball card set or two that lead the collectors’ popularity poll.
The 19th Century has Old Judge and in the early 1900s there are T205 and T206. Cracker Jack’s two sets are the leaders in the early teens and the Goudey and Diamond Star sets are popular with collectors of 1930s material.
In the 1920s there were a number of interesting sets, but in a decade dominated by generally unattractive black and white photo issues or the strip cards, nothing seems to have captured the interest of collectors any more than the set listed as the E120 American Caramel set.
Its combination of sepia American League cards and blue-green National Leaguers is attractive and at 240 cards the set contains a good cross-section of the stars and popular players of 1922, the apparent year of issue.
Sixteen players are pictured from each team and there are 34 members of the Hall of Fame. In fact, there’s a HOFer pictured from every team in each league except the two Philadelphia entries.
The set was issued by the American Card Co., of Lancaster and York, PA. Sometimes collectors refer to E120 as the ornate border set because of the unusual and complex designs which surround the oval photo of the player in a full-length action pose. The borders contain, among other things, figures of players, baseball equipment or other items related to the game.
All the players from a team are pictured with the same border design, with four exceptions. There are eight different designs which I’ll identify by the item shown in the lower left corner of the card. One team from each league is shown in each design, as follows: batter (Red Sox, Reds), megaphone (White Sox, Giants), catcher (Indians, Dodgers), glove, bat handle, ball (Tigers, Cubs), two bats and a ball (Yankees, Cardinals), pitcher with hands over head (A’s, Braves), player making high catch (Browns, Phillies), and ball, bat and book (Senators, Pirates).
The four exceptions to the design rule are Mails (Cleveland), who appears in the high catch type; Davis (St. L Browns), shown in the batter design; and two Cincinnati players, Luque shown with the pitcher hands over head design and Rixey pictured with the player making a high catch.
The cards are 2 by 3-1/4 inches. On the reverse is a list of the 16 players from the player’s team who are pictured, plus an offer of a pair of albums at 16 cents each to hold the collection. Below the photo is the player’s name, position and team on two lines.
Many of the photos carry initials identifying the company that provided the picture, CIFS, for example, stands for Copyright by International Features Service. CU&U is Copyright by Underwood & Underwood.
The set is a very collectible one with no really tough cards. You’ll find Ty Cobb listed as Cob, but don’t look for a correct version. Ross Youngs appears without the “s” at the end of his surname.
The above article was written by John Spalding for The Trader Speaks, a hobby publication that ran from the late 1960s to early 1980s.