One of the more obscure pre-war baseball card sets is the E94 Close Candy card set. The cards are plenty rare as it is, but numerous variations make a full/master run nearly impossible to complete. Here’s a (excuse the pun) closer look at the release.
The E94 card set was manufactured by the George Close Candy Company in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The company was created in 1861 and operated into the 1930s, producing a variety of candy. The cards are believed to have been released in 1911. At approximately 1 1/2″ wide x 2 3/4″ tall, they’re typical of the caramel cards issued during the era.
The set was designated as E94 in the American Card Catalog and includes a total of 30 cards. Full color images are on the fronts with player names and teams printed at the bottom. A white/cream-colored border surrounds the image. Backs include the full checklist of players in the set and some, as I’ll mention, include overprint stamp variations. Atop the checklist is a note stating, “This card is one of a set of Star Base Ball Players’ Cards as follows.”
The cards aren’t numbered.
E94 cards are also very similar to the M131 Baltimore News set since the two issues have the same exact checklist and player artwork. The best way to distinguish those two sets is by the backs, which have different text above the checklist.
Despite the small checklist, the E94 Close Candy set includes many big names. The legendary Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, and Cy Young lead the way here, but other Hall of Famers included in the release are Sam Crawford, Hughie Jennings, John McGraw, Nap Lajoie, Frank Chance, Tris Speaker, and Johnny Evers.
Another reason the set is popular is due to the inclusion of Chicago White Sox pitcher Eddie Cicotte. Cicotte, of course, was a part of the 1919 ‘Black Sox’ that threw the World Series.
A considerable part to the E94 allure for many collectors is the appearance of numerous back stamp variations found in the set. At least ten known stamps exist, printed in a variety of colors.
Not all E94 cards have the stamps. However, some do and those command a premium. The stamps all include a brief saying as well as a mention of the George Close Candy Company. The lone exception is the Blome’s Chocolates stamp, which some collectors have even classified as a separate issue for that reason.
The ten variations include: “A Base Hit,” “Blome’s Chocolates,” “Home Run,” “Oh You Fan,” “Oppie Dildock ( a type of candy made by Close),” “Pennant Winners,” “Three Strikes,” “Your Out” (grammatical error), and two different variations beginning with “Your Safe” (again, a grammatical error).
E94 Close Candy cards are rare with only a few dozen generally available on eBay at any given time. You can also find a few on Amazon and major dealers will occasionally have some in stock. Even commons in mid-grade condition generally will fetch several hundred dollars with Hall of Famers in that condition running into four figures. Some mid-grade cards, such as the Cobb, can sell for more than $10,000.
Cards with those back stamp variations bring even more. A low-grade Eddie Grant with the “Your Out” stamp, for example, recently sold for nearly $700 on eBay.
Due to their rarity, complete sets are difficult to find. Even collectors that have one and are willing to part ways with it may opt to break it up for individual sales in the hopes of earning more money. Partial/near sets do occasionally surface and one missing four cards (including the key Wagner and Young cards) sold at auction in 2014 for over $7,000.
E94 Checklist (Listed in Order of Appearance on the Back)
Honus (Hans) Wagner