Your Information Resource for Vintage Baseball Cards
eNews Issue #67 (November 2009)

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Welcome to Old Cardboard, the most complete reference resource for information about collecting vintage baseball cards and related memorabilia.  More information about this eNewsletter and its companion website and magazine are found at the bottom of this page.

1. Updated Auction and Show Calendar
2. 1921 Tip Top Bread Set Revealed
3. Latest Additions to the Website
4. Set Profile: 1928 Tharp's Ice Cream
5. News Briefs (A Digest of Recent Hobby Happenings)

1. Updated Auction and Show Calendar

The following is a summary of vintage card events coming up in the next 30-45 days. For the most current listings on additional vintage card shows and auctions, see the Show and Auction Calendar on the Old Cardboard website.

OC eNewsletter Sponsor

December 2009

2-3Phone/Internet Clean Sweep Auctions (see website for details).
3Phone/Internet Auction (see website for details).
3Phone/Internet Collectible Classics Auction (see website for details).
4Phone/Internet Leland's May Catalog Auction (see website for details).
8-9Phone/Internet Legendary Auctions (see website for details).
9Phone/Internet Heroes of Sport Auction (see website for details).
9Phone/Internet Grey Flannel Holiday Auction (see website for details).
9-10Phone/Internet Huggins & Scott Auction (see website for details).
12Phone/Internet Memory Lane Auction (see website for details).

2. 1921 Tip Top Bread Set Revealed

Major new finds of previously unknown cards from the early twentieth century continue to surface in the hobby on a seemingly regular basis. The most recent stash was revealed recently by Huggins and Scott Auctions. The discovery uncovered a group of fourteen cards produced in 1921 by White's Bakery of Baltimore, Maryland. The postcard-size cards were originally wrapped in loaves of the company's Tip Top bread brand.

Easily the most interesting and important card in the group is that of 21-year-old Lefty Grove (erroneously printed as "Groves").

The Grove card predates the Hall of Famer's earliest Major League card by four years, making it Grove's earliest (pre-rookie) issue. Note: Grove's earliest five cards can be viewed on-line as part of the Hall of Fame Rookie Card Database on the Old Cardboard website.

All fourteen cards from the find feature players from the 1921 Baltimore Orioles, then a franchise of the International League.

The other thirteen players are: James Aitcheson, Max Bishop, Rufus Clarke, Cal Davis, Jack Dunn, Ben Egan, Harry Frank, Bill Holden, Merwin Jacobson, Rudolph Kneisch, James Lyston, James Matthews and Jimmy Murphy. It is reported (but not confirmed) that cards for other players are known to collectors. However, these are the only players confirmed at this time.

A detailed Set Checklist of the full roster of 1921 Orioles players, as well as a Gallery of all currently known cards, can be viewed on the Old Cardboard website.

The Tip Top bread cards are blank backed and do not carry any imprint on the card fronts to indicate the set's sponsor. However, Old Cardboard subscriber Dan Mckee has provided conclusive evidence that the original producer was the Tip Top bread brand of White's Bakery of Baltimore. The evidence is in the form of a period newspaper advertisement (shown at left).

As seen, the newspaper display ad announces the beginning of a promotion in which a card "will be wrapped inside each wrapped loaf of White's Big Tip Top bread."

In addition to a picture of a loaf of bread, card images of three players from the set are also found in the ad. The players pictured are Fritz Maisel, Wade Lefler and Harry Frank. One of the three, Harry Frank (rightmost image in ad) is also one of the thirteen cards discovered in the recent find.

The ad text also states that "Photos of the entire team of 1921 Orioles" were included in the set. A different player was to be included each day and would continue until the supply was exhausted. The ad also states that the cards are "regular postcard size suitable for framing."

The 1921 Orioles were a remarkable team. They became the International League champions that year with what is considered to be one of the best (if not the best) minor league teams of all time. Their 119-47 record placed them ahead of their nearest competitor by twenty games. Along the way, they logged a 27-game winning streak, tying a minor league record set in 1902 by the Corsicana Oil Citys of the Texas League.

Any ties between this set and the D322 Tip Top Bread baseball card issue of 1910 or the D323 Tip Top Bread issue in 1947 are not likely, but unknown at this time.

The Baltimore Tip Top set will be auctioned as two separate lots (one for Grove and one for the remaining 13 players) in the Huggins & Scott auction that ends December 9-10.

3. Latest Additions to the Website

We are continually expanding the Old Cardboard website with more set profiles, checklists and card galleries. Recent (past 30-40 days) additions include:

Set Profiles have been added for:
1921   Tip-Top Bread (Baltimore)
1948-49   Caramelos El Indio (Cuban)

Set Checklists have been added for:
1921   Tip-Top Bread (Baltimore)

Set Galleries have been added for:
1921   Tip-Top Bread (Baltimore)

Updating the website with checklists and full set galleries for additional vintage sets is an ongoing project, so check back often to check out the latest additions. There are now many thousands of card images on the website and the list continues to grow. We welcome and encourage feedback with checklist additions, card images, error corrections and suggestions. Please send all input to

4. Set Profile: 1928 Tharp's Ice Cream

Tharp's Dairy of Shamokin, Pennsylvania distributed this 60 card set to promote its ice cream products in 1928.

The 1-3/8 x 2-1/2 inch cards share the hobby designation F50 with other closely related sets issued by Tharp's nearby competitors Yuengling's and Harrington's ice cream brands, as well as the Sweetman (candy or ice cream?) Company of St. Louis. The set is also very closely related (shares the same checklist, player images, etc.) to the E210 York Caramel set, the W502 strip card set and a very obscure set issued by Greiner's Bread.

The black and white cards include Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb (Cobb's last year in the Majors) and many other top stars of the day. The player images include a variety of poses ranging from full length action photos to waist-up images to a few that show portraits of the players. All images depict the players in uniform.

A redemption message was printed on the card backs. It offered an ice cream bar for each picture of Babe Ruth (see example below). Alternatively, a gallon of ice cream was offered in exchange for the full set of 60 cards.

In 1928, before the introduction of refrigerated delivery trucks, ice cream was kept frozen during delivery by an ice-salt mixture (see image of 1920's Tharp's delivery truck below). Further, refrigerators were only beginning to come into widespread commercial use to provide convenient storage for the product once it reached the dealers.

All of this meant that ice cream was valued somewhat more as a luxury item then than it is today. Consequently, it may have been easier for a Tharp's customer to give up a Ruth card for an ice cream bar than it would be today.

Nevertheless, Wilbur Tharp, the person responsible for the 1928 Tharp's baseball card promotion, would no doubt be astounded (and delighted, according to his son) to learn that today, more than 80 years later, one of his Babe Ruth cards might sell for several thousand dollars. That's a lot of ice cream bars!

Above images are (left to right): 1) a delivery truck used by Tharp's to distribute ice cream to its dealers, 2) a circa 1950s menu cover featuring Tharp's ice cream, and 3) Wilbur Tharp, whose idea it was to promote the ice cream using baseball cards.

Tharp's Ice Cream grew out of a family restaurant business in the early part of the twentieth century. By 1928 when the baseball card set was issued, 24-year-old Wilbur Tharp (1904-1996), son of the founder, was was actively involved in the company's operations. These operations continued under the Tharp's trade name until the 1950's, when the company was absorbed by another dairy. According to Wilbur Tharp's son Bruce, Wilber remembered the 1928 baseball promotion as being highly successful in selling the company's Eskimo Pie ice cream bars.

As related by Wilbur Tharp many years later, the Babe Ruth card was used as the "chase" card for the set. As such, it was distributed in lower quantities than the other cards, which limited the number of complete sets available for redemption.

This worked, he added, until Yuengling's Ice Cream of nearby Pottsville, Pennsylvania "flooded the market with a plentiful supply of the Ruth card." The Yuengling's set was identical on the card fronts but carried a different redemption message on the reverse. More than once, according to Tharp family lore, its customers would shave the back from another card in the Tharp's set, then affix it to a Ruth front from a similarly shaved Yuengling's card. This produced a Ruth card with a Tharp's back, thereby completing the "Tharp's set" for redemption.

Note: Ruth is known with both a throwing and a portrait pose in the Tharp's set.

A profile for the F50 Tharp's Set is provided on the Old Cardboard website. Similar profiles can also be found for the related Yuengling's, Harrington's, Sweetman, E210 and W502 sets.

5. News Briefs (A Digest of Recent Hobby Happenings)

Abundance of Auctions for December.  Despite the sluggish ecomomy, there seems to be no slowdown in auction activity for vintage cards and memorabilia. As indicated in the Auction Calendar above, there are at least nine on-line auctions in December that are focused on vintage baseball cards and memorabilia.

Lyman and Brett Hardeman
Old Cardboard, LLC.

Old Cardboard, LLC. was established in December 2003, to help bring information on vintage baseball card collecting to the hobbyist.  Produced by collectors for collectors, this comprehensive resource consists of three components: (1) Old Cardboard Magazine, (2) a companion website at and (3) this eNewsletter. The Old Cardboard website contains more than 500 pages of descriptive reference information for baseball card sets produced fifty years ago or longer.  Each of these set summaries has a direct set-specific link to auctions and a similar link to 's powerful search engine for further research.  The website also includes a Show and Auction Calendar, an eBay Top 50 Vintage Sellers List, and much more.  As a result, the Old Cardboard website makes a great "Alt-tab" companion for vintage card shoppers and researchers.  Old Cardboard eNews provides current hobby news, upcoming shows and auctions, and updates to the website and the magazine.  It is published around the middle of each month.  For a FREE subscription to the eNewsletter, or for subscription information on Old Cardboard Magazine, please visit the website at  If you find this information resource helpful, please tell your friends.  We need your support and your feedback. Thank you.