Strip cards are often derided for their unrealistic, sloppy artwork. But it’s possible that no strip issue is lacking in aesthetics as much as the infamous W9316 set. Here’s a closer look at this short, odd set with all sorts of flaws.
W9316 Strip Card Basics
Issued in or around 1921, the W9316 strip card set is … something. At only ten cards, it’s incredibly short. But given the artwork in it, that is probably a benefit.
Like other strip cards, these feature color pictures of baseball players. But the lack in detail and quality makes them quite unappealing to look at. Players are unrecognizable and, in my cases, are pictured with bright red lips, giving the appearance that the players are wearing lipstick. That feature is not distinctive only to this set as other strip issues had similar problems. But the W9316 cards may be the biggest offender in that area.
With regards to that, the printing variances differ to great extents in some cases. For example, some players with bright red lips on one card may have that color far more muted on others. Some cards with full deep colored backgrounds may have backgrounds of a much lighter shade on others. The ink levels used in the printers were the likely culprits when determining how bold the colors appear on some.
The size of the cards vary depending on the hand cuts. In general, however, they’re somewhere in the vicinity of 1 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ in size. The fronts include the player’s picture as well as his name and a card number in the bottom border area. There are no other identifying text on them and backs are blank.
Because these are strip cards, condition is not really the same as with cards that were factory cut. Instead of even sides with smooth edges, collectors will often find these cards with uneven borders, crooked sides, and even torn edges. Cards in decent condition with clean cuts generally sell at a premium. The quality of the paper is also notable. Since these were strip cards, the stock on which they were printed isn’t of a high-quality. That has led to many sustaining significant damage over the years.
Roster … and Typos
In addition to the artwork, another problem with the set is its lack of stars. There are some solid names here but the checklist falls pretty flat when you consider who’s not there. No Babe Ruth. No Ty Cobb. Not even Walter Johnson. The set is notable for its many omissions and while part of that can be blamed on a short checklist, it would have been nice to see a few more big names added.
Some Hall of Famers are present, though. The most relevant player included was certainly George Sisler. Sisler had just rapped out a 257 total hits in 1920 and was one of the game’s biggest stars. His inclusion here helps bolster a lineup missing some of the game’s heavy hitters.
Hall of Famers Ray Schalk and Home Run Baker are also there but in terms of contemporary star players, that’s it. The fourth Hall of Famer, Wilbert Robinson, is found in it but he was only a manager at the time.
Despite the small checklist and general lack of text, two names on the cards were still misspelled. Robinson’s first name on his card is misspelled as ‘Wilbur’ and Wally Schang got a double dose of mistakes on his card. His is misspelled as Wallie Schange. Here’s the full checklist of the set. Corrected cards for these typos are not known so the mistakes don’t really contribute to their value.
- Bob Veach
- Frank (Home Run) Baker
- Wilbert Robinson
- Johnny Griffith
- Jimmie Johnston
- Wally Schange
- Leon Cadore
- George Sisler
- Ray Schalk
- Jesse Barnes
W9316 Strip Card Prices
Despite their unattractive nature and the lack of stars, the prices for these cards are a little more than you might expect compared to others. Part of that is because the set has a bit of a cult appeal and the other part is that they are not as rare as many other strip card issues.
Only a dozen or two are typically even available on eBay and you just don’t see that many of them. That claim is bolstered by the fact that PSA and SGC have combined to grade only about 50 total to date. Finding an entire set isn’t easy, either, despite the small size.
Commons in decent shape generally start around $30-$40 and the stars are significantly more, depending on the player and condition.