Decades and even centuries can go by before some of the hobby’s mysteries can be unraveled. Proof of that comes in the form of a pair of new discoveries that are filling in some missing pieces on a couple of very rare pinback sets.
One hundred years ago, Schmelzer’s Sporting Goods in the Kansas City area issued celluloid pins as a business promotion. With such regional distribution and the passage of time, the set, which includes Ty Cobb, Joe Jackson and Christy Mathewson, among others, is extremely rare. Fewer than 50 examples were thought to exist and only eight different were confirmed until recently, when a family consigned ten of them to Robert Edward Auctions. The pins had been taken in more than 50 years ago and saved by the family, whose baseball loving parents had acquired them as Kansas antique dealers in the 1950s.
The Schmelzer’s checklist had included eight subjects, a well-known player for every position except second base. The new find included ten different, including a pin of Cubs Hall of Famer Johnny Evers along with a manager, George Stallings of the 1914 Miracle Braves of Boston, both new discoveries.
According to REA officials, the Schmelzer’s pins were the first baseball pin set to combine photos of famous ballplayers with color lithographic artwork.
The new find is the second largest discovery to date. In 2006, an REA consignor delivered 12 pins, six different, to the company’s auction. The new group of ten is the only complete set known.
The starting bid is $2500 but REA officials say it’s very possible they will sell for more than $10,000.
Hall of Famer Sam Thompson, pictured on the pin as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies at the end of his career, is a new addition to the checklist of what is the first celluloid baseball pin set ever made. It will likely sell for at least several thousand dollars when the auction comes to a close.
Cameo Pepsin Gum Pins have long been regarded as one of the most significant issues in the hobby, representing the most substantial issue of any kind dating from the late 1890s with over 100 players in total, many of whom do not appear in any other sets.
New additions to the checklist have been added over the years, with seven previously unknown pins showcased in REA’s 2008 auction and another of Hall of Famer Jake Beckley three years ago. Keith Olbermann provided a comprehensive look at the set in this article.
The Schmelzer’s group and the two Cameo Pepsin pins will all be offered as part of REA’s upcoming spring auction, which opens April 6.