Four 1928 baseball card sets make up the F50 classification given by Jefferson Burdick in his American Card Catalog – Sweetman, Yuengling Ice Cream, Tharp’s Ice Cream, and Harrington’s Ice Cream. But while the cards all mostly look the same and were produced in the same year, they shouldn’t be viewed the same by collectors.
The F50 cards all use the same black and white pictures and almost all of the numbers on each are the same. With few exceptions (some sets have the player’s name in a gray box while others do not, some fonts are slightly different, etc.), these sets are almost identical except for the backs, which advertise redemption programs.
None of the F50 cards are all that plentiful but some are rarer than others. Here’s a closer look at the rarity of the four sets.
Yuengling Ice Cream
While most collectors are familiar with Yuengling as a beer manufacturer, the company actually made ice cream during prohibition and distributed these cards. Collectors could redeem complete 60-card sets for a gallon of ice cream. Babe Ruth cards could also be exchanged for a quart of ice cream or a scooter.
The Yuengling cards appear to have been produced in the largest quantities, which you would expect since they were the largest company. According to PSA’s population reports, the company has graded nearly three times as many Yuengling cards as the next highest-graded set.
To date, PSA has graded only about 250 Harrington’s cards. Like the Yuengling set, consumers could exchange a full 60-card set of the Harrington’s Ice Cream cards for a gallon of ice cream. The Ruth cards, as was the case with the Yuengling set, could be swapped for a quart of ice cream (but no scooter).
The cards are significantly rarer than the Yuengling cards and treated as such. Commons usually start around $5o.
Tharp’s Ice Cream
Tharp’s cards are about twice as rare as the Harrington’s with PSA grading only about 150 so far. Even low-graded Tharp’s commons typically are in the $100 range and the cards are much more expensive as the condition goes up and with players more in demand.
Like the first two companies, Tharp’s also issued a gallon of their ice cream in exchange for a complete set of cards. But they did not make a special offer for the Ruth card.
Sweetman cards are easily the scarcest of the group and to date, PSA hasn’t even graded 50 of them. Until only recently, it wasn’t even known what kind of product the company produced. But as I discovered in 2016, Sweetman was actually a company producing wax candies. Given that the other three sets here made ice cream, that could have also been one of their products.
Part of the reason the Sweetman product is unknown is because, unlike the other sets, the company didn’t offer ice cream in exchange for cards. Instead, collectors could send in fifteen cents of stamps in exchange for an album, presumably to hold their own cards.
These cards are extremely difficult to find. They are rarely on eBay and typically reserved for more traditional auction houses. Commons usually start around $150 at the lower end of mid-grade condition and some of the bigger stars can easily top $1,000.