The domino effect never really caught on, but the 1909-1912 Sweet Caporal Domino Discs (PX7) set offers big-name players at relatively affordable prices.
The Domino Discs contain many of the same players that appeared in the more popular Sweet Caporal pin set — with some of them even sporting the same pose — but the discs remain obscure.
The discs were inserted into packs of Sweet Caporal cigarettes between 1909 and 1912,
Each disc measures 1 1/8 inches in diameter. It includes a portrait of the player, with “Sweet Caporal” ringing his head. The player’s team name flanks both sides of the player’s portrait; for example, on the Ty Cobb disc, “Detroit” is situated on the left side of the disc, while “Tigers” graces the right side.
The player’s name is at the bottom of the disc, and the main color scheme at the top of the disc is either red, green, blue or brown (the brown is sometimes referred to as sepia). The player’s photo is in black and white.
The set gets its name from the large, white domino that is printed on the back of the disc. There are different domino numbering configurations throughout the series. The discs are made of cardboard and are ringed by a thin, metal rim.
There are 129 major-leaguers that appear in the set, along with seven variations and a generic home/visitor disc.
The set is chock full of Hall of Famers like Cobb, Home Run Baker, Chief Bender, Roger Bresnahan, Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown, Frank Chance, Fred Clarke, Eddie Collins, Johnny Evers, Clark Griffith, Miller Huggins, Hughie Jennings, Walter Johnson, Nap Lajoie, Rube Marquard, Christy Mathewson, John McGraw, Tris Speaker, Bobby Wallace, Ed Walsh, Zack Wheat and Cy Young.
Some other stars include Red Ames, Howie Camnitz, Hal Chase, Larry Doyle, Fred Merkle, Chief Meyers, Ed Reulbach, Nap Rucker and Harry Stovall.
Several players have variation discs. Cobb discs are commonly featured with a “D” on his cap, while other discs show a cap with no logo; that logoless disc is arguably the most valuable piece in the set.
Gabby Street and Jack Knight have discs with them as members of the New York Yankees and Washington Senators. Other two-team discs feature Pat Moran (Cubs and Phillies), Doc Scanlon (Brooklyn Superbas and Phillies), Art Wilson (Pirates and Giants) and Owen Wilson (Giants and Pirates).
George Mullin’s name is also spelled “Mullen” on some discs.
Condition is an issue with the discs. Because they were regarded as toys, many discs are scuffed, stained and dinged up. The rims have a tendency to get rusted, too.
There have been 1,659 discs submitted to PSA for grading. Only one grades out at PSA 10 — Jack Rowan, a pitcher who played from 1906 to 1914 with the Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs.
Twenty grade at PSA 9. The highest grades for a Cobb disc (with and without the “D” on his cap) is PSA 8.
The Domino Disc set offers a good cross-section of players from the dead-ball era, and it won’t break your wallet. Plenty of the discs can be found on eBay, many of them graded. Certainly, the stars may be pricey, but even then there are bargains for collectors willing to dig around.