When consumers purchased a box of Darby Chocolates in 1910, they got an extra treat with pictures of baseball players on the boxes. Today, those pictures are considered to be cards by collectors, who are finding them to be difficult additions to their collection. Here’s a little more on the E271 Darby Chocolates issue.
E271 Darby Chocolates Background
Darby Chocolates was a candy maker based in Baltimore and in 1910, packaged at least some of their chocolates inside of boxes that contained pictures of baseball players. Each box was a double treat of sorts since it contained one player on the front and another on the back.
Today, the cards are usually found individually as most collectors that kept them back then were inclined to cut them from the packaging. However, sometimes complete, uncut boxes surface, too. The cards are black and white and measure approximately 3 1/2″ wide by 4 1/2″ tall. Pictures of the players are black and white and a thick black line outlines them for emphasis.
A player’s image was printed on the front with a second being printed on the back. The two sides were slightly different as one read, “The Big Hit” while the other did not. Both sides identified Darby as the maker of the candy and included a picture of a pennant with the name ‘Pennant’ inside of it. This was perhaps the name of the specific candy product.
E271 Darby Chocolates Checklist
To date, we know of 38 different Darby Chocolates cards. However, that number is constantly changing as new additions are still being discovered. The total was previously at 36 but two more were added with the recent findings of Chief Meyers and Rube Marquard. Many of those in the marketplace were discovered in the 1980s but were victims of fire damage and an ill-advised effort to restore them.
Despite a short checklist, Darby was sure to include a bunch of big names. Hall of Famers in the set include Marquard, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Walter Johnson, Sam Crawford, Tris Speaker, Johnny Evers, Hughie Jennings, Eddie Collins, Fred Clarke, Roger Bresnahan, Chief Bender, and Mordecai Brown.
A few other notable are worth above common-level pricing, such as Eddie Cicotte and Bill Dahlen. In addition, Cobb is the only known player with two pose variations in the set. He has both a batting and fielding card.
E271 Darby Chocolates Pricing
The reason for the rarity of this release isn’t difficult to understand. Since these were printed on the exterior of candy boxes, almost all were certainly thrown away as garbage upon finishing the candy. Even ones that initially survived in collections by children were probably kept for a little while then subsequently discarded. That any of these survived, quite frankly, is a miracle of sorts.
Because of its extreme rarity, no Darby Chocolates card is cheap. Even poor examples fetch hundreds of dollars. The lone Meyers example known, a recent discovery, is trimmed to the shape of a die-cut and still fetched nearly $600 at auction. Full boxes, of course, sell for even more of a premium. One auctioned in 2006 with Ty Cobb sold for nearly $19,000.
Occasionally, you can also find them on eBay.