In the early 1900s, tobacco companies were stuffing packages of cigarettes with trading cards. Cards are the items that are most collected today but some companies used other types of premiums instead of them. In 1911, for instance, Helmar Cigarettes distributed packs of their product with small stamps featuring baseball players.
T332 Helmar Stamps Overview
The 1911 Helmar Stamps set is an interesting one. They were included with Helmar Cigarettes and used in lieu of a more traditional trading card. Packaged inside a glassine envelope, the stamps are much smaller and frail than a card. That, perhaps, has played a role in why they are so difficult to find these days. And their size possibly led to many being discarded without a second’s notice.
While 180 are believed to be in the set, piecing an entire one together seems as if it would be nearly impossible. To date, PSA and SGC have graded only about 300 of the rare issues and they are not usually seen in large quantities.
While they are stamps, they are collected by card enthusiasts. Part of that is probably because they were an official issue designated in the American Card Catalog (T332). And as tobacco issues have gained popularity, that has certainly helped its cause. Many uncataloged stamps have not been popular with collectors but this one is. The biggest issue collectors face is simply in tracking them down.
From an aesthetics standpoint, there’s nothing too special about the stamps. They measure approximately 1 1/8″ x 1 3/8″ in size. Black and white pictures of players are featured against colorful background designs with many different styles. Backs of the stamps are blank.
With 180 stamps, the checklist for this issue, as you would expect with such a large set, is pretty solid. Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, and Cy Young help to anchor an impressive collection of players.
Big omissions include Shoeless Joe Jackson and Honus Wagner but that isn’t too uncommon since they were left out of countless other sets. However, there are plenty of Hall of Famers and big names to keep collectors entertained. Others found in the set include Zack Wheat, Tris Speaker, Nap Lajoie, Eddie Collins, Mordecai Brown, and plenty of others.
T332 Helmar Prices
Despite their rarity, prices for the Helmar Stamps aren’t too crazy.
Commons start around $25 with stars and Hall of Famers commanding more, depending on the player and exact condition. But even the biggest names in the set are reasonable, compared to traditional cards.
A Ty Cobb in Fair condition, for example, sold for only a little over $250 in a Heritage Auction.