Despite learning a great deal about pre-war sports cards over the years, many mysteries remain unsolved for collectors regarding certain issues. One of those surrounds an obscure food set produced in Canada – the Peggy Popcorn set.
About the Peggy Popcorn Set
The Peggy Popcorn set is believed to have been produced sometime around 1920. Dating is a bit of an issue and not fully confirmed. The cards are often cited as a 1920 issue but could have been produced slightly later and a better designation might be 1920s. The formal name of the distributor is, as indicated on the backs of the cards, Peggy Popcorn and Food Products, Ltd., based out of Winnipeg in Canada.
Cards are black and white with most of the known ones being headshots of players. Backs mention a redemption off for collectors putting together a complete set. Trading in a full set of cards yielded collectors a baseball, cap, bat, fountain pen, or ‘Eversharp’ pencil.
The set has been largely unknown for decades. According to Heritage Auctions, they did not become widely known until a Canadian find in 2008.
Going by the information provided on the back, there are supposed to be 20 cards in a complete Peggy Popcorn set. However, to date, only six have been confirmed. As they often do for rare sets such as this, rumors of collectors seeing more of them are out there. But clear confirmations with pictures of others are not yet known. To date, we know of cards featuring Joe Dugan (#1), Harry Heilmann (#2), Chick Gandil (#3), Kid Gleason (#5), Babe Ruth (#7), and Dazzy Vance (#16). Others, to date, remain a mystery.
Also of note is that Vance’s card is often believed to not picture him but Burleigh Grimes instead.
The mystery of why the Peggy Popcorn cards are so unknown is frustrating but also understandable. As a Canadian baseball issue from what appears to be a regional company, the cards were almost certainly printed in very small quantities. Additionally, if piecing together a set was easy, it is possible that many cards were redeemed and subsequently destroyed. My guess is that is not particularly the case as a lot of redemption sets included shortprints. Still, any redeemed sets may not have survived if they were not returned to the collector.
Whether or not future cards surface remains to be seen. But given the initial find as well as the distribution area for these cards, the best bet to finding more likely remains north of the U.S. border.
These cards are extremely rare and priced as you might expect – in other words, they are expensive. Most are believed to be owned privately and not even for sale. Thus, with few sales, even gauging a true market value on the set is difficult. However, a Dugan graded SGC 40 sold for more than $2,100 in a 2015 Heritage auction. That is less than when the same card was auctioned in 2009. At that time, REA sold the Dugan for $2,644.