Baseball cards had been issued since the 1860s but starting in 1909, things sort of went haywire. While there were a number of sets issued in the early 1900s, 1909 is the year when the card collecting craze of the 20th century really took off. Numerous sets were printed that year and those issues still remain popular today. 1909 really sort of kicked off a new era in collecting and helped to jumpstart the hobby into what it is today. Let’s take a look back at some of the sets that were offered in this critical time in collecting history.
1909-10 Clement Brothers Bread
While the majority of the card collecting craze focused on tobacco or caramel/early candy cards, a few other types of cards were issued in that year, too. Among those were the Clement Brothers Bread cards.
Issued starting in 1909, these are among the earliest known bread cards that were distributed. Most bread and baking related cards (D-Cards) would not come until later.
The cards are quite rare and that does not make them too collectible. Many collectors, I imagine, are not even familiar with these cards. But this series includes both minor league players and major leaguers, including the likes of Ty Cobb, Addie Joss, Eddie Collins, Joe Tinker, and Chief Bender, among others.
In all, there are two different types of these cards. Some (Type 1) have players pictures inside of an oval while Type 2 cards have pictures inside of a more traditional rectangle. Both cards, however, are quite rare. eBay occasionally has a couple but even commons generally starting at several hundred dollars when they can be found.
The early 1900s was a popular time for postcards and in 1909, numerous baseball issues popped up.
In addition to all of the postcards featuring generic subjects, several sets featured actual players. For example, the 1909 Dietsche Postcards conclude a three-year series of cards featuring Ty Cobb and the Detroit Tigers. A set of Max Stein postcards was believed to have first been issued in 1909 featuring an assortment of players.
The Rose Company postcards were issued in 1908 and 1909. That series is among the most popular (and toughest) postcard issues. Additionally, several sets of Detroit Tigers postcards, classified today as PC773, were also issued. Cobb cards in this series are particularly desirable and some are even viewed as rookie cards of the Hall of Famer by some collectors.
Postcards can often be among the more affordable types of sports cards in the pre-war era. But that is not the case with any of these sets, really. These postcards vary quite a bit in terms of price and rarity. But all are somewhat tough issues and none are as inexpensive as most of the generic issues created in the same time period that did not feature actual players. Even commons in these sets can easily cost $50-$100 as a starting point. Some of the biggest names can easily cost more than $1,000, depending on the player and the exact set involved.
1909-10 Baseball Silks
The S74 Baseball Silks were yet another issue starting in 1909. Unlike traditional baseball cards, though, these were actually small pieces of silk.
Distributed with tobacco products for numerous brands, including Helmar, Old Mill, Red Sun, and Turkey Red, these silks featured pictures baseball players. The images of the players are similar to the cards found in the T205 tobacco card set or the end panels from the T202 Hassan Triple Folders set.
There are actually two different types of silks and, thus, two different sets — some printed on white silk and others printed against colored pieces of silk. The white silks are considered to be one set and the colored silks are a separate release. In all between the two different sets, there are more than 200 and, given the rarity, completing all of them is nearly impossible. Even collecting one of the two sets is an incredible difficult task. The silks are roughly about 2″ wide by 3″ tall but the sizes can fluctuate significantly as they are not all cut evenly.
The silks are somewhat scarce and decent copies of common players start around $30-$40.
1909-10 German Stamps
This unique set of baseball stamps features baseball players and equipment. There are a total of 44 stamps believed to exist, though the stamps are rare enough that more could be a part of the checklist. Stamps with players, obviously, are more desirable than ones simply featuring pieces of equipment.
The set includes crudely drawn pictures of players but many big names reside in the set. Stamps have perforated edges but were decorative in nature with no postal value. Among those players that collectors will find are Hall of Famers Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Nap Lajoie, Eddie Plank, Tris Speaker, Honus Wagner, Cy Young, and many others.
It is important to note that while the set is believed to have been first issued in 1909, that date is not entirely conclusive. Collectors should also note that this set is different (and rarer) than a similar titled set called the 1923 German Transfers. Because of the rarity of this set, expect to pay a premium price for any of them.
1909 Tim Jordan Game Cards
Baseball game cards were first issued in the 19th century and as time went on, these games featuring playing card decks became more and more popular to fans wanting to simulate actual games.
One of the more popular pre-war games was actually created by major league player Tim Jordan. Jordan’s game included a total of 72 different cards. While the players featured were generic subjects, the cards are desirable because of Jordan’s involvement and also because the cards are somewhat rare.
The cards included pictures of generic subjects as well as actions that, when drawn or played, would help dictate the flow of an actual simulated baseball game.
While the cards are not entirely commonplace, they are generally pretty affordable. And because the cards have rounded corners like most traditional playing cards, they are often found in good shape. Cards in decent condition can be found for this game starting around $20.