In 1949, few companies were issuing actual baseball cards as the country was still recovering from the effects of World War II. But one of the more intriguing issues for collectors from that period is actually a large set of stamps that featured major league players – the 1949 Eureka Sportstamps set.
About the 1949 Eureka Sportstamps Set
As indicated in the name, these are actually stamps and not actual baseball cards. Still, they featured real major league players and are pursued by many collectors because of their age and the dearth of other baseball cards at the time they were released. Part of the reason these stamps are so interesting to collectors, I imagine, is because companies like Topps had not yet begun producing baseball card sets. Aside from Bowman and Leaf, there were few sets out there for collectors at the time.
These stamps measure approximately 1 1/2″ wide by 2″ tall. Like most stamps, they’ve got perforated edges. Collectors can find these either individually or sometimes with more than one attached to each other. A premium can be given for stamps that are not separated. And of course, damage is a concern here. Since these are stamps and not printed on cardboard, they are more fragile than your standard baseball card. Given the fact that they are more than 70 years old, it is not uncommon to find them with torn corners, creases/other tears, or other types of damage. That ‘damage’ includes stamps that were affixed to a surface and then removed. Higher prices are paid for stamps from this set that have never been used.
The full color stamps featured a picture of a player on the front and pictures include a variety of poses. Across the bottom, his name and a stamp number are included inside of a yellow box. They are easily identified since a 1949 copyright along with the Eureka Sportstamps name is in the lower right border area.
In addition, a special album was created for collectors to keep the stamps. As stated, stamps that have not been used are worth more. However, there is still significant demand for complete sets that have been affixed to the album pages. Pages of the albums included space for three stamps per page and included a short biography of the subject.
1949 Eureka Sportstamps Stars
In all, a total of 200 stamps are found in the set. Nearly all (198) are actually baseball players. However, two non-players were included — National League President Ford Frick and Commissioner Happy Chandler.
One notable thing about the set’s checklist is that, despite the large number of stamps in the set, many big names are missing in action. That is because the set includes only National League players. Thus, collectors won’t find the likes of Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Bob Feller, or other standouts from the American League.
That’s kind of disappointing but enough big National League names in the set to keep collectors interested. Among those found in the large checklist are Stan Musial, Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Johnny Mize, Warren Spahn, Roy Campanella, Duke Snider, Robin Roberts, and a host of others.
Stamps were assigned numbers based first on team and them alphabetically by player name.
Despite their age, the stamps are not incredibly rare and plenty are generally available on eBay at any given time. That is helpful to collectors wishing to build an entire set. And because the stamps are not rare, their values are generally quite low compared to other 1940s issues.
Decent commons from the set are not difficult to find under $5. Many stars can be bought for as little as $10-$20. Even the bigger names are not too expensive compared to their more traditional baseball cards. Stan Musial and Jackie Robinson are among the more valuable stamps and theirs can be found in mid-grade condition starting at under $100.
Complete sets can sometimes be found, too. A full set with the album sold in an REA auction for $1,320 in 2018.
With regards to rarity, PSA and SGC have combined to grade nearly 2,400 of these stamps to date. However, the overall population is certainly much higher as most examples encountered are usually raw and ungraded. The population reports for these may be helpful when trying to compare the rarity of certain stamps to each other. However, they do not tell us too much in terms of overall population as many collectors simply will not send these in to be graded.