In 1923, the Montreal-based Maple Crispette Company produced a set of baseball cards. With the sport still growing in Canada, the set featured American major league players instead of locals. Here’s a closer look at this rare set.
The 1923 V117 Maple Crispette set featured 30 major league baseball players. The issue had a clean look with black and white portraits of players on the front and their name and a card number in the lower border area. Cards measured approximately 1 3/8″ wide x 2 1/4″ tall, which were significantly smaller than the typical American candy issues, which, by the 1920s, were growing in size. The V117 dimensions were even smaller than most of the earlier U.S. candy cards produced in the early 1900s.
While small in stature and quantity, what wasn’t lacking in the set was key players.
The set is headlined by Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Walter Johnson. A smattering of other Hall of Famers, such as Pie Traynor, Eddie Collins, and Edd Roush are here, too. A few other players, such as Rogers Hornsby and Zack Wheat would have made fine additions. But, as a whole, the set did a solid job in including players that would be in demand by fans.
Like many companies, Maple Crispette offered a giveaway program to its consumers on the backs of the cards. If a collector completed an entire set of 30 cards, they could trade them in for one of three prizes, including a baseball bat, a glove, or a baseball. An interesting fact is that collectors could even mix in hockey cards from the company’s 1924-25 hockey set (known today as V130) since that issue also included 30 cards.
While that may have made it a little easier to pull together 30 cards, the fact is that doing so was still a very difficult proposition. That is because card No. 15 was shortprinted in both sets. Card No. 15 in the baseball issue was Casey Stengel (in hockey, it was Sprague Cleghorn). In fact, today, Old Cardboard says that only a single Stengel has been found.
While it is likely that more Stengels and Cleghorns existed and were subsequently traded in to the company for prizes, there’s little doubt that both of these cards were shortprinted to limit the number of redeemed prizes. Because of the extreme rarity of the Stengel card, a set is generally considered to be complete without it.
V117 Maple Crispette Prices
V117 Maple Crispette cards are not impossible to find but they are certainly rare. To date, PSA and SGC have combined for only a little more than 500 graded examples. Because of the rarity, it isn’t easy to find even lower end mid-grade commons (VG) at under $100. Hall of Famers are, of course, more depending on condition and the player. Babe Ruth leads the way in this set and a PSA 4 sold in 2016 for nearly $2,300 in an REA auction.
Complete sets are rarely seen but occasionally have been auctioned. Goldin once auctioned the top set on the PSA registry for just under $20,000.
You can see Maple Crispette cards on eBay by clicking here.