Your Information Resource for Vintage Baseball Cards
eNews Issue #83 (March 2011)

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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. E. R. Williams Card Set: a Unique New Find
3. Latest Additions to the Website
4. Set Profile: "Big Head" Strip Cards
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 Key Events Calendar on the Old Cardboard website.

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March 2011

30-31Phone/Internet Huggins & Scott Auctions (see website for details).
31Phone/Internet Collectible Classics Auction (see website for details).

April 2011

1-3Wilmington, MA Rich Altman's Boston Show (see website for details).
2Phone/Internet Fusco Auctions (see website for details).
7Phone/Internet Auction (see website for details).
7Phone/Internet Lew Lipset Auction (see website for details).
8-10Strongsville, OH Strongsville Show 2011 (see website for details).
15-17Philadelphia CSA Philly-Oaks Expo (see website for details).
16-17Long Island, NY Long Island "National #14" (see website for details).
16Phone/Internet Memory Lane Auction (see website for details).
16Internet Bagger's Premier Auction (see website for details).
21-22Phone/Internet Heritage Signature Sports Collectibles Auction (see website for details).
26Internet 2011 Old Cardboard Texas Hold'em Tourney #4 (details).

May 2011

7Phone/Internet Robert Edward Auctions (see website for details).
12Phone/Internet Mile High Auction (see website for details).

2. E. R. Williams Card Set: a Unique New Find

Recently Discovered
Sepia Graphics

Previously Known
Color Graphics
Although scarce, cards from the E. R. Williams game set are familiar to most vintage collectors. Until now, however, no one in the hobby has ever seen (or at least reported that they have seen) a sepia colored Williams card. Previously, all of the known examples on the dual-player cards were known with the graphics printed in color (for comparison, see Ewing/Anson examples at right).

A full deck of the unique sepia toned Williams playing cards was recently discovered and is set to be auctioned in the Robert Edward Auctions (REA) this Spring.

At first glance the two sets look similar and are based on the same graphics. However, with the exception of lettering and color of the baseballs in the corners, the sepia cards are printed without color. Further careful inspection reveals that the portraits on the sepia cards are printed with noticeably higher quality than their more familiar color counterparts, resulting in much more detailed and realistic portraits of the players. In some cases, the visible portions of the uniforms are also different or are shown with more detail in the newly discovered set.

But the differences in the two sets do not end there. Three players featured in the "sepia" set (Billy Sunday, Herman Long and Tom Brown; see images below), were never issued in the "color" set. In addition, another five cards featured in the sepia set have a different combination of players than the previously known cards.

Billy Sunday (top)

Herman Long (top)

Tom Brown (top)
Three new players not found in "color" set

Despite these very significant differences, the two sets retain much similarity. Both contain 52 cards, with 19 of the cards in each set representing two players each. The instruction booklets (both carry an 1889 copyright), game pieces, card backs and the game boxes also remained unchanged between the two sets.

The discovery of the sepia-toned variation set raises the question about when each of the sets were produced. Although it may never be known with certainty, REA President Robert Lifson believes that the sepia set dates from 1889 and that the color set was likely not produced until the following year. Lifson believes that the 1889 copyright date was part of the original (sepia-tone) design of the cards and was not changed when the "enhanced" color version of the set was issued in 1890. It was 1890, he explains, "that the E. R. Williams set was heavily promoted in the Players League New York programs."

A Set Profile along with a complete Set Checklist and Card Gallery (color player cards only) for the 1889 E. R. Williams game-card set can be found on the Old Cardboard website. The checklist and gallery for the sepia cards will be added later.

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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:
1909-1940   Sporting News Record Book (original pocket format)

Set Checklists have been added for:
1906   Winthrop Moving Picture Postcards (added Iron Man McGinnity to Checklist)
1916-20   "Big Head" Strip Cards

Set Galleries have been added for:
1906   Winthrop Moving Picture Postcards (added Iron Man McGinnity to Gallery)
1916-20   "Big Head" Strip Cards

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

In addition to these additions to the Old Cardboard website, we have significantly expanded and refined our eBay Custom Search Links to make finding vintage baseball cards on eBay easier than ever. The results of these searches are continuously changing, so check back often to find the most recent listings.

4. Set Profile: "Big Head" Strip Cards

Referred to as "Big Heads" because the heads on these players are disproportionately large relative to their bodies, this set contains drawings of players in full-body poses. The set is not listed in the American Card Catalog.

After a quick glance at the cards, it becomes clear that they are not collected because of their beauty--or because of the accuracy with which the drawings depict the players.

The only labeling on the cards is the player's name, which is printed near the head of the crudely drawn artwork. The cards are unnumbered and have blank backs.

The set is heavy on HOFers. Of the 20 player's represented, nine have since been elected into the baseball Hall of Fame.

The set's exact year of issue is uncertain and the subject of an ongoing discussion among vintage collectors. The relatively small number of known cards makes dating the set difficult to accurately pinpoint. The task becomes even more challenging because, with a couple of exceptions, the player's uniforms do not allow team identification, so that the year of issue must be based on the entire playing careers of the subjects (see Checklist on the Old Cardboard website).

Based on the player's major-league careers, the year of issue can be reasonably narrowed to a time window between 1916 (Baker's first year with the Yankees; he's labeled "NYA," presumably New York Americans on his jersey) and 1920 (Doyle's last year in the majors).

Remarkably, seven of the twenty players in the set (including four HOFers) began their major league careers in 1915. Given that several did not become well known or established players for several years, it is very unlikely that the set was produced before 1918-1920. The actual date of distribution is especially important to rookie cards collectors since it establishes the rookie card status for seven players in the set.

The seven player's that started their careers in the majors in 1915 are: Bancroft, Cadore, Hornsby, Judge, Mays, Rice and Sisler. Of these, Bancroft, Hornsby, Rice and Sisler are now in the Hall of Fame.

Any further insight that our readers can provide to help pinpoint the year of issue of the Big Head set is most welcome. We look forward to your feedback.

A Set Profile, detailed Checklist and full Gallery for all known cards in the Big Head set can be viewed on the Old Cardboard website.

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

Changes at SABR. Besides moving the administrative offices for the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) from Cleveland to Phoenix, the group recently announced the debut of its new SABR website and the new members' community, SABRNation. SABR, BTW, celebrates its fortieth anniversary this year. Their website can be accessed at

T206 iPhone Gallery. OC Subscriber Trae Regan has recently developed an iPhone App that allows users to browse the T206 card set while on the road. The application can be downloaded for $3.99 from the Apple iTunes website. Cool.

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.