Believed to have been produced in 1920, the W519 set is one of many strip card issues produced around the same time period. But the series is also a bit different than most.
W519 Strip Cards Overview
The W519 set is one of the more confusing sets of baseball strip cards from the pre-war era. While it’s commonly referred to as a single set, it’s really three separate sets rolled up into one classification.
Equally intriguing is that, while it consists of three separate sets, it has a total of only 21 cards. That’s because many of the players found in one of the three sets also appear in others. And while the players and poses are the same, there are actually relatively easy ways to keep tabs on these cards and which one belongs in which series.
Before we get into that, let’s take a brief look at the cards in general. These strip cards featured color pictures of players and a standard cream border around the edges. The only text printed on them at all is the player’s name and, in some cases, a card number. The lone exception to that rule is that a few cards have printing from the uncut sheets on them that was not really intended to be on the cards. Coincidentally, that printing also gives us the name of this set’s producer – the DeCalco Lithograph Company.
DeCalco was located in Hoboken, New Jersey and their name is printed only on a select few of the cards in the set. And since it was not intended to be there, it was usually cut off and is only found on a small amount. You can sometimes see traces of it as is the case with this George Sisler card shown here.
Sorting out the Three Sets
As stated, there are actually three different types of W519 strip cards. Because the first and second type are similar, instead of the typical numbering of, say, W519-1, W519-2, and W519-3, these sets are generally numbered as W519-1-1, W519-1-2, and W519-2. While that can seem a little clunky, it allows collectors to place a better distinction on the W519-1 sets and the W519-2 set.
W519-1-1 includes a total of 20 cards and includes a variety of colored backgrounds. W519-1-2 also has the different colored backgrounds but includes only ten cards.
W519-2 is the one that is most different. It includes ten cards like the W519-1-1 set but has cards with only blue backgrounds. The biggest difference is that those cards do not have numbers printed on them.
Some collectors note that W519-2 includes only blue background cards and assume that any card with a blue background belongs in that set. However, that is not the case as some blue backgrounds are also found in other series’, too. A collector’s best way of identifying the three cards can be found on their numbers. Cards from the W519-1-1 set have card numbers that are printed black. W519-1-2 cards have blue card numbers and W519-2 cards have no numbers. If you don’t have a checklist handy, that will be your best way to separate them.
The only set to include most of the cards is, of course, W519-1-1. That’s because it includes the most cards and has 20 of the 21 found in the entire series.
The only card not found in it is one of Eddie Cicotte, who appears in W519-1-2 and W519-2. Across the three sets, many big names are found, including Babe Ruth, Home Run Baker, Ray Schalk, Kid Gleason, Eddie Collins, Frankie Frisch, and the aforementioned Cicotte, among others.
Frisch’s card is particularly notable. He is not the biggest name found here but the Hall of Famer began his career in 1919 and this 1920 card is his true rookie issue. The card has managed to go a little under the radar but you can expect to pay a little more for it than other Frisch issues from some dealers.
Old Cardboard has an excellent checklist of the sets here.
W519 Strip Card Prices
For the most part, cards in these sets are pretty affordable. Commons start at approximately $10-$15 in decent shape and while Hall of Famers are more, they aren’t always expensive. Ruth, as you would expect, is the most valuable card in the entire series. In decent shape, you will be hard-pressed to find one of those for much below $1,000. You can find a few dozen cards from the set on eBay here.
A final note with regards to price is that W519-1-2 cards seem to be the most difficult to track down. Savvy collectors will understand paying a premium for those cards. However, not all sellers are even aware of the three W519 sets or the rarity among them. For that reason, finding W519-1-2 cards priced no higher than others at times would not be a big surprise.