The 1922 E120 American Caramel baseball cards are among the most popular candy issues of all time. But while they were an American issue, the cards were, in a way, an international set, too. That’s because the V61 Neilson’s Chocolate set used the same design. Here’s a closer look at the set.
The E120 American Caramel cards had a unique design. The cards were popular as evidenced by their use by other companies. A blank-backed set (now known as W573) of the cards was printed and used by several companies. One of those companies was Cream Nut and Goodie Bread. In addition, a similar set of cards was offered in an advertisement that was packaged with the 1922 Olsen’s Game Cards.
The cards, though, weren’t just a domestic product. They reached outside of the United States as they were also used by a Canadian company and packaged with Neilson’s Big League Chocolate candy bars.
The V61 cards used the same design. A black and white image was surrounded by a decorative frame and white borders. Player names, positions, and teams were printed at the bottoms. Other than having a card number on the fronts, they were nearly identical to the E120 series. There were a few other differences, however.
First, instead of a 240-card checklist, the V61 issue had only 120. That shouldn’t be surprising because the Cream Nut and Goodie Bread cards advertised only 120 as well. That was also the case with the ones advertised with the 1922 Olsen’s Game cards. Companies that used the E120 American Caramel issue seem to have created a shorter, modified set to fit their needs.
Even though the set has half the cards as the E120 set, it still has plenty of big names. Included in the issue is a strong collection of Hall of Famers, including Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Rogers Hornsby, Grover Alexander, Zack Wheat, Eddie Collins, George Sisler, Frankie Frisch, Harry Hooper, and Max Carey, and many others.
The biggest difference between the V61 issue and the E120 American Caramel cards, however, are the backs. Instead of the team checklists on the back as are found on the E120 cards, the Neilson’s cards have an advertisement for their candy bars. Not only were the V61 card backs different from their E120 counterpart, there were actually two of them. One features the Neilson’s name in a unique bold, calligraphic font (and is known as Type 1) and the other has a more plain, basic font (known as Type 2).
The two backs have nearly the same, identical text. Only a slight difference exists as one says, “Always ask and insist on getting Neilson’s,” while the other says, “Always ask for and insist on getting Neilson’s.”
Like most Canadian sets, these cards weren’t produced in the same quantities as the corresponding American issue. They are more difficult to find and, as a result, more expensive than the E120 cards. Still, the cards aren’t unaffordable. Mid-grade commons at the lower end start around $50. Lesser name Hall of Famers are usually in the $125-$150 range.
That doesn’t mean all of the cards are within the reach of every collector. Ruth and Cobb are obviously the most valuable cards and are two of the exceptions to the affordability issue.
Complete sets are incredibly rare but do surface on occasion. One mostly mid-grade set (with lower-grade Ruth and Cobb cards) sold for nearly $10,000 through Heritage Auctions earlier this year.
You can see V61 Neilson’s Chocolate cards on eBay by clicking here.