The 1921-22 E121 American Caramel set is one of the most confusing pre-war candy issues. Advertised on the backs as both a Set of 80 and Set of 120, the card fronts were also used as part of a blank-back issue.
Even more confusing is that some companies printed their own advertisements on the blank-backed cards, creating many spin-off sets. One of those was the Witmor Candy Company.
About the Witmor Candy Cards
The Witmor Candy Company was based out of San Francisco, California. They were one of the many businesses printing their advertisements onto the backs of these popular black and white cards.
As is the case with most of the other spin-off sets, these cards are typically pretty rare. They appear to have been printed in very low quantities. To date, PSA and SGC have graded only about 60 cards in all.
Because so few have been confirmed, a full checklist is not (and possibly, will never be) known. A full Witmor set, however, is supposed to contain 80 cards. We know that based on the back advertisements offering a redemption program.
That number is even somewhat in question as the E121 Set of 80 contains more than 80 cards. But assuming that exactly 80 Witmor Candy cards were produced, we are still missing quite a few from a confirmed checklist.
We do know of some of the names that have confirmed Witmor cards in the set through the pop reports, though. Among those confirmed are Hall of Famers Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Zack Wheat, Johnny Evers, John McGraw, and Home Run Baker, among others.
Interestingly, two different back advertisements for Witmor Candy cards are known.
One, a horizontal ad, mentions a total of 80 cards in the set. It states that a full set of cards could be traded in to either the collector’s dealer or to Witmor directly in exchange for a baseball or a bat. If trading the cards to Witmor, they were to be sent or taken to their Sansome Street address in San Francisco.
The second ad has the same idea but is also different. This ad was printed vertically using a different layout and fonts. It mentions the cards were available in Witmor’s Kisses product (sold for five cents) and that the full set of 80 could be redeemed for a ball or a glove. This ad also provides an additional fact that the cards would be returned to the bearer upon trading them in. Presumably, those cards would have been marked in such a way that they could not be redeemed again. Another possibility is that they would have been given back after the promotional period ended.
It is unknown if collectors could combine cards with the different backs to create a full set or if a complete set only consisted of cards with the same backs.
Prices for Witmor Candy cards remain relatively high due to their scarcity. Still, the largest problem encountered by collectors looking for them is merely finding them at all. They are sometimes on eBay but rarely in quantities larger than a handful.
This is one of those cards that collectors often have to take in whatever condition they can find. Even low-grade examples usually are difficult to find at under $100. Ruth and Cobb are the most expensive cards in the set and are rarely seen. However, the lone SGC Ruth (an SGC 10) sold in 2016 for more than $7,700 in a Heritage auction.