M-Cards were defined as ‘Periodical Issues’ by Jefferson Burdick in his American Card Catalog. While not generally as widely collected as caramel or tobacco cards, several M-Card sets are extremely popular with pre-war collectors. One interesting feature of the classification that it includes a wide range of types of collectibles that were related to publications, including supplements, cards, posters, and postcards. While not nearly as large a designation (in terms of the number of issues), there are still several here that are well known to pre-war collectors.
Here’s a look at some of the key M-Card releases.
The M101 series actually includes a total of nine different issues and Burdick dubbed the a series of ‘Baseball Players’ and a ‘Sporting News’ issue. That’s mostly accurate, although not entirely as some M101-4/5 cards as well as the M101-6 set were not Sporting News products. The nine-set issue includes publication supplements (M101-1, M101-2, M101-7, M101-8, and M101-9) that ranged from the late 1800s through the 1930s, traditional baseball cards (M101-4 and M101-5), and postcards and photo cards (M101-3 and M101-6).
All are popular although the M101-4 and M101-5 cards are the most collected. That interesting set of black and white cards was likely peddled by its creator, Felix Mendelssohn, to various companies. Sporting News was just one of the advertisers on the backs and the cards are found with all sorts of sponsor names and ads. The M101-4 and M101-5 releases are not only the most popular in the M101 series, but are among the most desired of all of the M-Card issues.
M113/M114 Baseball Magazine Premiums
Other well-known M-Card series’ are Baseball Magazine’s posters, designated as M113 and M114. These premiums were distributed by Baseball Magazine from 1910 through the 1950s. As you can imagine, it is a somewhat large issue. Burdick stated that there were about 300 subjects and many more have been found since the release of his book.
These range in size and were larger collectibles. Because of their size, these M-Cards are often overlooked by card collectors. The earlier M113 set ranged from 1910-17 and the posters measure approximately 10″ x 17″ in size. The M114 posters are smaller but with some measuring up to 10″ x 12″, these are still larger collectibles that many do not seek, in part because of their inability to properly store them.
Because of the hundreds of known posters, the checklist is massive and includes the biggest names in the sport. Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Joe Jackson, Walter Johnson, Rogers Hornsby, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Tris Speaker, Zack Wheat, and many others are featured.
M116 Sporting Life
Challenging the M101-4 and M101-5 baseball card sets, the M116 Sporting Life issue is also among the most popular of the M-Cards.
Like early caramel and tobacco issues, these cards featured color pictures of players. Printed from 1910-11, the cards mostly utilize pastel colors and aren’t as bright or bold as most of those sets. However, they do stand out a bit from the black and white M101-4 and M101-5 cards and somewhat resemble caramel and tobacco cards. Cards include a color portrait of a player on the front with his name and team. Backs featured varying Sporting Life advertisements.
The set is a massive one. Nearly 300 players are featured and, including all of the variations, with a new discovery in 2013, there are now 400 known cards.
All sorts of variations are known for the set. Among them are they different back advertisements for the publication, different colored backgrounds, and team changes for select players that joined new franchise’s during the issue’s production.
M128 Police Gazette Supplements
While we mostly refer to this set as the Police Gazette Supplements, the formal name given to it by Burdick is Sports and Stage Stars.
Produced from 1901-17, this series lasted nearly two decades. Like other supplements with the M-Card designation, it featured some of the biggest names in baseball. As hinted in Burdick’s name, however, the supplements non-baseball subjects as well. In addition to boxers and other athletes being included, the release also featured movie stars. A complete checklist is not known but more than 100 supplements were printed.
Among those found in the set’s numerous stars is a rare baseball issue for multi-sport star, Jim Thorpe (shown here).
Similar to other supplements, collectors pursue these with varied interest. The large size of the supplements, measuring approximately 12″ x 17″, make collecting and storing these a bit of a challenge.
M131 Baltimore News Newsboys
Another popular baseball card issue is the 1911 M131 Baltimore News Newsboys set.
These cards will look extremely familiar to some pre-war caramel card collectors, as they should. The 30-card set was a duplicate of the E94 George Close/Close Candy set, in terms of the players checklisted and the photos used. Two primary differences exist between the two sets. The E94 cards featured players against a variety of colored backgrounds while M131 cards have only blue backgrounds. In addition, the backs of the E94 cards have the checklist and can also have one of a number of various overprinted stamps. M131 backs instead have the checklist as well as a mention of a $1 prize to be given to the first 35 boys that collected the entire set.
As a regional issue, M131 cards are extremely rare and one of the most difficult of the M-Cards to find.
In addition to all of the releases cataloged by Burdick, several issues that can be considered as M-Cards did not make it into his publication.
Perhaps the most notable one is the 1914 Baltimore News set. This rare issue would otherwise go overlooked but it contains the minor league rookie card of Babe Ruth. The release included a team schedule on the back and can be found printed in either red or blue. The Ruth Baltimore News card continues to skyrocket in value with prices generally into the six figures.
A second scarce set is the uncatalogued 1910 Washington Times issue. These red-tinted cards are hard to find with 26 in the known set. While likely only a regional issue produced by the Washington Times, the set includes American League players from around the country. Stars include Ty Cobb, Cy Young, Walter Johnson, Nap Lajoie, Eddie Collins, Ed Walsh, Sam Crawford, Smoky Joe Wood, and others.
In addition to these issues, numerous other early magazines, newspapers, and publications produced supplements featuring baseball stars. While Burdick cataloged several, many from smaller, regional publications went uncatalogued.