Even more than 100 years after their creation, the 1888 and 1889 Allen & Ginter Sports Champions sets are still among the most desirable cards for vintage collectors. Featuring early card of some of the game’s earliest baseball stars, they are two of the most intriguing 19th Century sets.
While baseball was the focus, though, the sets included more than just those two sports. In fact, only 16 of the 100 cards in the set were baseball issues. So what else was there? Here are some other desirable cards found in the N28 and N29 Allen & Ginter sets.
When most collectors see the name Jack Dempsey, they associate it with being the later more popular boxer from the 1920s. But there were actually two Jack Dempseys in the sport and the first one can be found in the earlier N28 set.
Nicknamed ‘nonpareil’, he was one of the sports most dominant fighters with 51 victories against only four losses. His card starts around $150 in mid-grade condition.
Also in that N28 set is another boxing legend in heavyweight John Sullivan. Regarded as one of the top fighters of his era, Sullivan was an even more impressive 40-1, winning 34 times by knockout. His sole loss came to Jim Corbett in the final fight of his career.
Other desirable boxing cards are found in both sets but these are probably the top two. Sullivan’s card is generally a little more than that of Dempsey and is tough to find in mid-grade condition for under $200.
James Dwight / Richard Sears
The N29 Allen & Ginter has fewer gems but two underappreciated cards are that of tennis greats James Dwight and Richard Sears. Dwight is considered by most to be the founding father of the sport in the U.S. He witnessed the game in Europe on a trip and is believed to have started its beginnings in America, winning the first recorded tournament here.
Meanwhile, Sears was actually the better player. He is credited with winning the first seven U.S. Open championships. Despite their influence on the sport in the U.S., their cards are largely underappreciated outside of tennis collectors. In mid-grade condition, both usually start around $50 or even a little less.
Oakley’s card is sometimes believed to be a non-sports issue but that is not the case for those familiar with her career. One of the most famous rifle and exhibition shooters of all time, her card is a key one in the N28 issue.
Oakley toured all over the world, demonstrating the sport in front of kings, queens, and presidents. Her card is not a cheap one and even rivals the prices of the lesser baseball players, starting around $250-$300 in mid-grade condition.
While the set is termed as a sports set, Buffalo Bill’s card may be the least like a traditional sports card in the bunch. Buffalo Bill is called a rifle shooter in the set but is largely known for his Wild West shows and being a U.S. scout than actual sports competitions.
Similar to Annie Oakley’s card, however, his is certainly one of the more desirable non-baseball cards in the set. Decent copies of it command hundreds of dollars, depending on the exact grade.