The Boston Braves move to Milwaukee had fans reaching for snacks in the mid-1950s.
Milwaukee built County Stadium with the idea that no team could resist setting up shop in a baseball palace dropped smack into a sports hungry state.
They were right.
The Boston Braves moved west in time for the 1953 season and while the franchise would stay in Milwaukee for just 13 seasons, the early years were a match made in heaven.
Fans drove from hundreds of miles away to see young stars like Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron and reliable veterans like Warren Spahn. Braves players’ money was no good in town and local companies tried to capitalize on the team’s popularity.
The 1953 Johnston Cookies set was produced by a local bakery and began a three-year run of colorful baseball cards that are still popular–and valuable–today.
The 1953 set turned out to be the easiest to obtain. Issued in boxes of cookies, the cards were colorized from black and white photos but fans didn’t have to gorge themselves to get a complete set. You could send in for the complete 25 card issue. While Aaron wouldn’t show up until 1954, the Spahn and Mathews cards help push its value today close to $500.
In 1954, Johnston produced a set of 35 Braves and changed the size to a somewhat awkward 2" x 3 7/8". The size has been a problem for collectors of high-grade Johnston cards. Uncut sheets that survived show 42 cards, meaning seven cards were double-printed. It’s why you can find a Spahn for around $100–less in lower grade. The other double prints were commons. There is a scarcity in the ’54 set. After a season-ending injury early in the season, Johnston withdrew Bobby Thompson’s card and a nice one will now cost $150 and up. The complete set sells for between $500 and $1500 ungraded, depending on condition.
Johnston Cookies’ run would end with the 1955 set–and yet another change in size. This time, the company distributed the set in six panels of six cards each. Andy Pafko’s card was double-printed, creating a 35-card set that measured 2 7/8" by 4" when cut from the panel. The panel featuring Aaron, Lew Burdette, Del Crandall, Charle Gorin, Bob Keely and Danny O’Connell is the most valuable at $250-500 in uncut form. Collectors and fans could order the panels for a nickel each. There is little difference in value between the panels and single cards. Because of the unique style, there are no 1955 Johnston Cookie sets on the PSA Set Registry.
The 1953 Johnston Cookies set is numbered 1-25 while the last two sets carry the player’s uniform number on the back in lieu of traditional numbering.
Johnston Cookies on eBay