International pre-war sets aren’t always easy to get a handle on. And that’s the case with a mysterious issue from France that is believed to have been printed in the 1930s.
Indiana-Sport-Avion Set Basics
This black and white set includes real images of its subjects. In that way, it was sort of a precursor to American gum card issues that came shortly after it, including the 1936 Goudey set and the 1939 Play Ball release. The cards even have a similar look to those, measuring about 2 3/8″ x 3″. Those dimensions make them slightly smaller than today’s traditional cards.
Much about the set is just … interesting. That even starts with the name, Indiana-Sport-Avion. Collectors would be inclined to believe they were issued in Indiana but that isn’t the case. Instead, the cards were issued by Donat, a French confectionery company in the 1930s.
This was a sports issue, although many collectors may consider it to be partially a non-sports set as well. Subjects include athletes, such as baseball players and boxers (including the great Joe Louis), but the issue also includes cards of speed boats and, as indicated by the ‘Avion’ part of the name, airplanes.
The Babe … and Football
For most American collectors, the key to the Indiana-Sport-Avion set is card No. 60 featuring the legendary Babe Ruth. A second baseball player, Darrell Blanton, is also found, but Ruth is undoubtedly the important one.
Any cards are pretty rare here in the U.S. However, the Ruth appears on occasion, simply because his cards are so popular and you will sometimes see them in auctions. Finding other cards in the set can be a much more considerable challenge, actually.
One interesting note on Ruth’s card is that he is actually not named on it. The title on the front of the card is Match de Base-Ball, which of course translated would be, ‘Baseball Game.’ And while a description on the back discusses the sport, there is no direct mention of the Yankees slugger. However, it pictures Ruth on the front and it is easy to spot him. As a result, despite the lack of his name, it is recognized by graders as a Ruth card.
The set includes another card that is popular and features American football.
As an international set, the card is actually titled (and translated as) ‘American Rugby.’ That is easy to understand as the rest of the world uses the word ‘football’ for what we consider soccer. But the card clearly pictures what we know as football. This thread indicates that the photograph seems to be from a game featuring the Packers and Cardinals.
While a discussion is included about the players that could be shown on the football card, nothing is absolutely conclusive on that front.
Prices for most of the cards in the Indiana-Sport-Avion set are often quite low. They are not seen a lot but when you can find them, cards for the airplanes, boats, and less common sports (i.e. cycling) are only a few dollars.
The Ruth card, of course, is a different story. It is clearly the most valuable card in the set and is desirable even in low-grade condition because of its rarity. This one graded Authentic sold in November 2018 for nearly $400. Regarding the football card, I have not seen one available at auction in recent years. Its value, though, would fall between that of a common and the Ruth.