$8,000 in 2004 wholesale for a card that at that time was listed in the Standard Catalog at $50,000 in vg (2003 edition) is being a pig. Funny thing is, the story says $8,000 was tempting but not enough to go for it. If the dealer had offered a bit more, perhaps $20,000, he would likely have gotten the card given the psychology of non-collectors. Serves the pig right.
Calling something a baseball card is obviously the objective from a marketing perspective because a card designation generates a higher price. Therefore it comes as no surprise REA will be anxious to slap a card designation on this Ruth item. However, given the size of the item and that it has a glossy finish, is blank-backed and is of photo paper stock (not cardboard stock) thickness, if this item fits the definition of a card, then I wonder how much is left that fits the definition of a photograph.
It looks to me more like a counter display, maybe something that would be visible in a stationery or tobacco store to help sell copies of the Baltimore News. It's a wonderful find and a great new early image of Ruth, but of course it is not a baseball card. However, with the right marketing it will fetch baseball card numbers.
Whether the team card is defined as a photo or a card could certainly vary from person to person. Some people may not consider it a card because it is very much like a photo. To me, there is no question that it is a card because it is the size of a card, has advertising, and was produced specifically to advertise The Baltimore News. Now just dont go bringing up the 1863 Grand Match At Hoboken card.(Only kidding to me that is a card also, but to some it is only a ticket).
Rob- these days anything that is square and made of paper is a card. Ten years ago this would have been a counter display. Not complaining, just saying that the definition grows broader with each new discovery. But a terrific find nonetheless.
I want to be very careful not agreeing absolutely in full with someone who is paying for dinner at Peter Luger's! (Please let me know when this is.) The team card doesn't look like a counter display to me. I've never seen a counter display this size. It would be the smallest counter display in the world, and one of the few with no way to stand itself up and be displayed. It looks like a card or a premium that was given away to promote The Baltimore News. I don't think it could possibly be anything else. Maybe there were a pile of these at the newsstand that were given away, we'll never know. The definition of what is or is not a card is always amusing. Sometimes there are gray areas. This one fits every defintion of a card to me but I suppose it really depends on how you define a card. Does a card have to be a particular thickness? No.(T201 Mecca) Is a card allowed to have a photographic surface? Yes. (T200 Fatima) Is a card allowed to have a blank back? Yes.(Exhibit cards) Is a card allowed to be 4.5 x 6.5 inches? Yes.(cabinet cards, larger issues such as T3 Turkey Reds). If one defines a card as not being allowed to have a combination of (or all of) these qualities, then it's not a card. That is not how I define a card but I know that different people might think differently. Now don't go excluding me from dinner just because I think this is a card!
There are a number of unmounted photos that are widely considered to be baseball
cards, most notably the T222 and T200 Fatimas. The key with these is that they
were distributed as baseball cards, inserted into tobacco products. If this
Ruth photo was given away to the public as a trade card card or suppliment or
whatever to promote the newspaper, it could be reasonably argued that it counts
as a baseball card. The text on front clearly shows that it was used as advertising
and distrubed by the newspaper.
As the item was pictured in an album with those corner tabs, many peoples' first
impression was 'looks like a family snapshot.' If the item was pictured in a PSA
slab, the perception likely would have been different.
Salad and pasta don't count as a steak, so I will only concede it's half a card...actually, I think it's great to see you posting on the board, and feel you should participate more often. Rob knows more about this hobby than all of us yahoos put together. As some of you may know Rob and I worked together in 1999 cataloguing the Halper sale, and there wasn't one piece in the entire collection that Rob didn't have complete knowledge of, so hopefully this will be his start as a regular contributor...and by the way, the tomato and raw onion salad with Peter Luger sauce is exceptional.
I agree, Rob can eat all the ruffage he wants, and I will take care of his steak. I've never had the pleasure of "meating" Rob or Barry, but would be happy to do so at Luger's. I'll be in NY in Nov for the Anti Defamation League awards and would like to see you guys, Be well Brian
Paper stock thickness, glossy surface, size, blank back...perhaps as Rob says it's true all these characteristics can be found on issues that are clearly accepted as baseball cards. But here ALL are in evidence. That coupled with the fact that we do not know if this item was ever distributed to the general public in my view makes designating it as a baseball card quite premature, if not outright erroneous.
Hi Corey! I did say that If one defines a card as not being allowed to have a combination of (or all of) these qualities, then it's not a card. That is not how I define a card but I know that different people might think differently. I dont know why the combination of qualities that describe the team card, all of which are fine for other cards, would somehow not allow this item to be defined as a card. There are other characteristics of the team card as well, such as picturing an image featuring baseball players, having an advertisement for a business (in this case The Baltimore News) and having a specific reference to being given away specifically to promote the business (Compliments of The Baltimore News), all of which are a lot more card-like than many other card issues. The team card even has a connection to the Baltimore News schedule cards, featuring the same team and issued in the same year. This is not unlike the D317 1945 Remar Bread set that also has a larger team card of the Oakland Oaks that is associated with the set. With reference to the concern that we do not know if this item was ever distributed to the general public, if this was not made for distribution to the general public, then who was it made for? The office workers of the paper? I dont think that sounds reasonable. The card stands on its own merits but the fact that it was accompanied by individual player cards also suggests that it was distributed to the public. Id recommend Hal taking all of us to a fancy dinner to further discuss this.
Rob- Isn't the real issue here how to present the piece in a manner that generates the highest possible price? Don't get me wrong, that is an entirely noble endeavor, but if baseball cards achieved no particular premium above and beyond other kinds of ephemera would we care as much or at all?
Hi Barry! I do try to present items in their best light but have to be totally comfortable with how all items are presented also. In an alternate universe in which cards were not the focus of the baseball collecting world but pure photographic images were, I would be emphasizing the photographic element. I could say the same about Old Judges, T200s, and countless other issues. But in that alternate photo-centered universe there would be some collectors that would be expressing the opinion that it's not a photograph - but is actually a baseball card!
Hey, if it were my consignment I would instruct you to sell it in a manner which would get me the highest possible price, so I guess I would be a hypocrite if I didn't say in that situation I would call it a card, too. But the definition is becoming so diffuse that almost anything qualifies these days.
Hi Ryan! Im not sure if advertising premium is easily defined as a technical term but to me they are usually items that are given away separately, as opposed to being packaged with, the product or service being promoted. R313 Fine Pens and R314 Wide Pens have always been called premiums because you got them separately from the product being purchased (almost like you were not purchasing them, but you still had to make a purchase to get them). The term advertising premium to me suggests an item that is given away that advertises the product or service, but which can only be received when actually purchasing the product or service; OR an item that advertises a product or service that does not require a purchase and would be a strictly pure advertising give-away. Like cards, premiums come in all styles, shapes and sizes. Some are considered cards by some, some are considered cards by no one, and some are considered cards by all. To me a 1947 D302 Bond Bread Robinson with text back that was given away separately (as opposed to packed in loaves of bread) is an example of an advertising premium that is a card, and a 1926 M101-7 Sporting News Supplement is an example of a premium that I do not consider a card.
Rob, would you call the R313 and R314 premiums "cards"? How about the R311s or R303 premiums?
Earlier in this thread I referred to those; in my mind they meet the characteristics of a "card." And while I admittedly have a very broad definition of what I would call a "card," I would think that if any of the 1930s premiums fit the definition, then the Ruth card would as well.
To respond to your point of -- "if this was not made for distribution to the general public, then who was it made for"-- answer, the individual team members. A number of 19th and early 20th century photos are believed by myself and many other collectors to have been distributed to individual team members only, despite the presence of studio advertising. The uniquenss of this item after all these years, in contrast to the relatively many number of Baltimore News cards known, seriously raises the question whether this item ever had a general public distribution. How can one reasonably discount the possibility that either prior to or after the individual photo shoot of the Baltimore players the studio/newspaper took a team shot meant for distribution to the players only?
Hi Al! I don't think there is any one right answer about defining what is a card. Some collectors think of R313 and R314 as cards but think R311s are too big. Personally, I think of R313, R314, R311, and R303 all as types of cards.
Hi Corey! The 19th and early 20th century photos that you are referring to (and which I agree were in many cases produced for distribution to players) have photographer's studio advertising only, for the studio producing the photographs. The Baltimore News team card has both the photographer's information and, separately, (and very prominently) also has the Compliments of The Baltimore News lettering. I can't think of any instance off-hand where a company producing a set of cards of players to advertise their product or service made a completely separate team card (or additional versions of individual player cards) that had advertising for the product or service but were produced exclusively for distribution only to the players. Someday (a year from now or 100 years from now) a second team card example will turn up, but even that discovery won't allow us to discount the possibility with 100% certainty that the card was produced only for players as you are suggesting is possible. Anything is possible but I think the likelihood of this is remote. There is no way for me know with certainty. Sometimes cards are inexplicably rare or unique. I believe the 1917 Chicago White Sox team set was sold to the public (it even has a package design box that was made for it), yet only one set is known. How can this be? We can speculate that the set was never distributed to the public or that the cards were distributed only to players, and either explanation might actually be the case, but this speculation would have absolutely no foundation in fact. The fact that the team card has been found with cards that were definitely issued to the public suggests it was distributed to the public, but is not conclusive. In the mid 1990s REA handled Oriole Neal Ball's estate, and he saved everything, but there was no 1914 Baltimore News team card. This suggests that players did not receive team cards, but is also not conclusive. Anything is possible.
We can continue to go back and forth on this one. As a card the totality of its characteristics coupled with questions about its distribution distinguish it from any other card that I am aware of that has general hobby acceptance as being a card. Let's just say that this item has attributes of both cards and photos, without perhaps fitting squarely within one peg or the other. Each person will of course look at it as he/she sees fit, and I appreciate your candor that you are focusing on its card-like attributes in order to generate the highest price for your consignor.
And of course another of the aspects that makes it a card is: just put it in a slab and it becomes a card. But that is a whole other can of worms. In the end, nobody is harmed if you call it a card. If someone decides to pay a lot of money for it it's just free enterprise.
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