Bread companies began capitalizing on the popularity of baseball cards in the early 1900s. Over the years, more and more innovative cards have been created and packaged with bread products. One popular vintage issue is the 1952 Tip Top Bread Labels set, classified as D290-1, which featured baseball players printed on labels packaged inside of bread products. But other 1950s D290-1 bread label issues exist as well, including National Tea, Fischer’s, and Northland.
1951-53 Fischer’s, National Tea, and Northland Labels Basics
While the 1952 Tip Top Bread Labels are the most popular of the D290-1 sets, other bakers got into the act, too. Three additional bread issues share the D290-1 categorization with the Tip Top labels. All of them have a stop sign-type of shape with the diagonal borders being curved and measure approximately 2 1/2″ or 2 3/4″ on all sides.
Fischer’s Bread labels were the first ones on the scene, printed in 1951. The cards have color pictures of players against red, yellow, and blue backgrounds. The bottoms read, “Bread for Energy” and the player’s name, team, and a brief statement are printed inside of different colored boxes.
In 1952, the National Tea Bread Labels came onto the scene. The National Tea labels are easily the rarest of the four sets. A player picture is in the middle of the card with his name and team in the background. These cards are distinctive by their thick red borders.
The final issue in the D290-1 series are the Northland Bread Labels. These labels are fully red and, similar to Tip Top, and featured black and white images of players against a baseball diamond. These have the “Bread for Energy” statement printed at the tops and a crossed bats design is in the background.
Stars, Stars, Stars
While relatively small sets, each of the three issues has its fair share of big names. None are what you would call absolutely packed but there are plenty of key players across the three releases.
The 1951 Fischer’s Bread Labels set includes 32 cards. Featured here are the likes of Gil Hodges, George Kell, Johnny Mize, Red Schoendienst, and Early Wynn.
The 1952 National Tea Labels set has more cards (44) and was an upgrade over the 1951 Fischer’s issue in terms of players included. Present are Hall of Famers Yogi Berra, Bob Feller, Robin Roberts, Enos Slaughter, Duke Snider, and Warren Spahn. In addition to those players, some other great ones are here, too. Some of those are five-time All-Star Preacher Roe and seven-time All-Star Dom DiMaggio. It is worth noting, however, that at 44 cards, some collectors think this set checklist is not yet full known.
Finally, the 1953 Northland issue was a 32-card set. The key players here include Richie Ashburn, Nellie Fox, Monte Irvin, Ted Kluszewksi, Bob Lemon, Minnie Minoso, Johnny Mize, Red Schoendienst, Enos Slaughter, and Warren Spahn.
Those three sets missed some good opportunities to include more stars. In particular, its omission of young stars Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays are obvious, although Mays had begun his military service. Both players appeared in the 1951 Bowman set and would have made these releases much more appealing. Phil Rizzuto, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Pee Wee Reese, and Eddie Mathews are all players that could have been added, too. Even more frustrating is that the 1952 Tip Top issue managed to include some of these players, including Mantle and Campanella.
None of the three sets are all that affordable due to their rarity. All are hard to find, although the National Tea Labels are easily the most scarce.
In mid-grade condition when you can find them, commons in all three sets generally start in the $150-200 range. Stars and Hall of Famers are, of course, more. Even in low-grade condition, it is difficult to find too many of these under $100 unless they are in very bad shape. A collection of 27 of Fischer’s and Northland recently sold for $2,700 at an REA auction.
You can check out prices for vintage bread labels on eBay by clicking here.