A few years ago, some images placed online by the Library of Congress caught the eyes of those who collect vintage baseball cards. Dating to the time period of the T205 and T206 sets and other tobacco cards, the photos showed men posing for a photographer a century earlier.
Clearly visible in the high quality photos were a fairly large quantity of old cards,seemingly pinned or tacked to walls behind the men in the photographs. While it was cool to get some of our first glimpses of tobacco card collectors and how they displayed their treasures, we were left with a myriad of questions. Where were the photos taken? Who were the people? And more importantly to collectors, how could we find out more about those tantalizing little pieces of cardboard behind them?
The immensely frustrating problem was that since they were part of a background, it was difficult to determine much of anything.
This week, however, Tom Shieber, who writes the ‘Baseball Researcher’ blog, revealed what he’s uncovered after examining the photos in detail. While some of the questions about the people in the photo may never be answered, we do learn a lot about the cards they thought enough of to show off–perhaps just days or weeks after they were pulled from cigarette packs.
It’s a ghostly show and tell as collectors with stashes of Mathewson, Cobb, Chance and other stars contemporary to their time return to life.
Check out Tom Shieber’s fascinating work here.