Strip cards, by nature, are often quirky and were often designed without much detail. One issue, however, sort of takes the cake when it comes to confusion – the W516 issue.
W516 Strip Card Basics
The W516 strip cards are believed to have been produced in 1920-21. As with many strip issues, details are lacking when it comes to determining exactly who distributed them. The cards do bear an IFS (International Feature Service) copyright as far as the producer, but how they got into the hands of collectors is anybody’s guess. Like most strip issues, they would have likely been available from merchants.
The cards are your typical strip cards. They feature color pictures on the fronts but many of the pictures are hardly anything special. While some of the pictures of players do actually show a good amount of detail, others do not. Backs were entirely blank.
A total of 30 cards are in the ‘set.’ That definition is sort of confusing because of the numerous types involved. But in all, there are 30 different cards in each type.
The biggest names in the set are easily Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb but several others aren’t far behind, including Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson. In addition, despite having only 30 cards, the set has several errors, including misspellings for Rogers Hornsby, Benny Kauff, and Ray Schalk.
By far, the most distinguishable characteristic of the W516 cards is that there are five different types. Some are very similar but others are not. The reason for the confusion is that all five types use the same pictures.
Types 1 and 2 are similar and are generally known as W516-1-1 and W516-1-2. Each includes 30 cards and the difference is that the images on them are reversed. Both have a handwritten style of font and while it may be difficult to tell if an image is reversed, it is easily determined by the copyright logo with the ‘C’ also backwards.
The other three types are a little more confusing. Two, W516-2-1 and W516-2-3, utilize a typewriter style of font. If you have a W516 card with a font that doesn’t appear handwritten, you know you have one of those. W516-2-3 are the normal images while W513-2-1 are those with images reversed. The remaining type, W516-2-2, is often confused with W516-1-2. That is because both of those have both have reversed images and both have handwritten font. The key here is the card number as the two sets are numbered differently.
Prices for W516 cards, like other strip issues, vary strongly and how well a card has been cut plays a role in determining value. Cards that have been torn from the strip instead of neatly cut generally see lower returns.
Halfway decent commons generally start around $15-20 and increase in price depending on the player and condition. The most expensive cards are for Ruth and Cobb. Even in low-grade, Cobb cards often exceed $150 while Ruth cards are more than double that even for a card that has been poorly cut. Still, those prices are obviously lower than what you will find for most Ruth and Cobb tobacco or candy issues.
You can see W516 cards listed on eBay by clicking here.