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T51 Master Set discussion

October 6 2014 at 6:49 PM
John Rafferty  (Login swarmee)

I think I'm going to try and build the master set, and it was discussed on a thread a few years ago. Rather than dredge that one up, I wanted to confirm it was still accurate:
All cards from 1st Edition of all six series (150) - Marked 1909 in PSA Pop
All cards from 2nd Edition of 1st/2nd series (50) - Marked 1910 in PSA Pop
1st Edition cards with the small numbers (25)

But let me pose a question to you: is there a 1st Series, 2nd Edition card of either Indiana or Wisconsin? If you look at the 1st Series, 2nd Edition back at it shows that Kansas and Denver have been replaced on the checklist with Indiana and Wisconsin. However, after checking my already owned cards and eBay, I see that Kansas and Denver were made in the 2nd Edition. Indiana and Wisconsin were included in the 2nd Series, 1st and 2nd Edition. Has anyone seen these or discussed it before? Could not find any previous discussions noting this through google or the search engine here.

I am also composing a Master List of the overall graded pop report, to try and figure out which cards are graded most often and why. Once I buy one or two more cards, I'll start the "basic set 1-150" and the master set "1-225" so people can add to them. As of now, PSA only has a subset listing for the 7 or so basketball cards.


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John Rafferty
(Login swarmee)

Can someone post the "number in the corner" variation?

October 6 2014, 7:03 PM 

I don't really know what to look for right now. What is the variation with the number in the corner?

(Login 030190)


October 6 2014, 7:45 PM 


I have not found any variations from the Forbes book that shows:

1st Series - First and Second Edition of both Kansas and Denver

Series 26-50 - First and Second Edition of both Indiana and Wisconsin.

I can positively say that Kansas, Denver and Indiana have both first and second Editions as I have them...I have not come up with the 2nd Edition for Wisconsin (although I admit that I have not really looked for it)..

Regarding the Series Variation 1-25 with the numbers in the lower right hand corner...I can verify that 22/25 exist as I am only needing: 4...7 and

John Rafferty
(Login swarmee)


October 7 2014, 6:24 AM 

Just found one. Bought the Illinois pennant from the 1st Edition last night with the #21 in the bottom right corner.


mr moses
(Login 1880snonsports)


October 7 2014, 9:39 AM 

think the next thing for you might be the T6's happy.gif After that it's all downhill.............

As for Marty - he's a master set collector beyond conventional help. It's his apparent acceptance of personal fallibility with regard to the quote below that makes him special - although I sense that he already knows it's on his list - and he doesn't want to tip his hand..... The guy is tricky!
"I have not come up with the 2nd Edition for Wisconsin (although I admit that I have not really looked for it)".

John Rafferty
(Login swarmee)

The T6s... and the Master Set and Basic Set registries at PSA

October 7 2014, 2:33 PM 

I have seen the T6s and they're nice. Mid-high grade cards are out of my price range currently. There's a nice set of all 25 on eBay right now just over $2000.

I submitted the request to make the T51 basic set (150) and Master Set (225) over on PSA. I will let you know once they've been created so that people who have graded cards can start challenging each other on the registry.

John Rafferty
(Login swarmee)

Checklisting the Number on Front Variation

October 8 2014, 6:06 AM 

So far on completed eBay/auctionhouse listings, I've found these:

Rochester - 10
Michigan - 15
Swarthmore - 17
California - 2_ Can't make out the second number
Illinois - 21

Questions I still have about the set:
Why were some colleges included?

Why were some major colleges excluded?

Were any colleges consulted before appearing on these cards, or did any refuse to be pictured? (Like Denver and Kansas dropping off the series 1, edition 2 checklist?)

Or was adding Denver and Kansas a ploy to sell more tobacco/increase brand loyalty by checklisting cards that didn't exist to create a chase.

How many total colleges were expected to be created? Were they going to stop at 150 or produce any more? Reason being, for cards 1-100, they're fairly uniform alphabetically. Once you get to 101-125 and 126-150, it looks like they're trying to fill back in colleges starting with A-M, but there was never a Series that filled in the N-Z colleges missing.

I'm thinking about wasting (er, spending) an hour to map all of the college locations on a GoogleMap to see where the spread is; mainly Northeast, from what I can tell, but that's where most of the lauded colleges were at the time.

Noticed an eBay listing claim that the Hockey price guide lists the value of the Rochester card at $250. Was this the first ever Hockey card?

John Rafferty
(Login swarmee)

Series 1 Numbers from Mr. Krim

October 8 2014, 7:55 PM 

1.. Harvard
2..W&J Washington & Jefferson
9..Penn State
18..Penn (with pennant)

As you can see, the numbers are not alphabetically listed and do not align with the T6 series. I looked up all the colleges today and noticed that a couple merged with each other, about six went defunct, and a couple changed names into schools you've probably heard of.

(Login cmoore330)


October 19 2014, 5:36 PM 

Best of luck on your master set! I just finished the football master set. It only took just over a decade for me to find a Michigan with the number on front!

John Rafferty
(Login swarmee)

Found some oddities in my collection

October 24 2014, 5:40 PM 

I'm now up past 120 distinct colleges and have about 8 more with either the Number on front or the 1st series, so I'm making great progress. Price point on this issue and the helpfulness of some Net54 board members has sped me along.

Found the following oddities:
1) Western Reserve with 180 degree oriented back.
2) Trinity with miscut back: S. Anargyros and factory information above Murad Cigs.

Have about 90 (with some dupes) to send into PSA on the October $6 special. Anyone else found any anomalies in this series?

J0hn Raff3rty
(Login swarmee)

Registry Sets are up

January 23 2015, 10:23 PM

Got some nice grades from eBay bought cards (two 6s) and some from a guy on net54baseball (three 5s). Now that the registry set is up, hopefully those of you that also collect this set PSA graded will join the registry. I will try to photograph and upload the pictures there. They also made the "Master Set" registry, but it's not quite right yet. They recognized only one of the "Number on Front" variations, but have three additional cards that are probably misnamed (i.e. different abbreviation or the latin version of the school name Sigillum...).

I gave bigger weights to the cards from basketball, baseball, football, and hockey.

J0hn Raff3rty
(Login swarmee)

Re: T51 Master Set discussion

October 2 2016, 8:47 PM 

Well, I scored the #15 University of Michigan Wolverine card on eBay for $175 from a dealer in Washington state who happened upon a high grade find of about 10 numbered variant cards. I would consider the Michigan card around an EX, and it will be shipped to PSA shortly. The other numbered cards went from $50 (BINs) to $135ish, so there is heavy demand in the variants at this time. I still need another couple for my Master set, and probably should have overpaid for the Amherst and Brown cards.
I think this was a combination of new blood going after the master set, people doing it for years trying to complete their sets, and finding some really sharp T51s that would probably be upgrades for most of us leading to a shark-like feeding frenzy on eBay the past couple of days.

[linked image]
[linked image]

(Login favag)


October 2 2016, 9:46 PM 

John, have you finished your master set? If not what cards are you lacking? The
card you just posted is nice, will this make your master list #1 on PSA? I think
Henry is right next for you should be the T6s. You'll be surprised at how the guys
will help you. Good Luck & post them when you are finished.

J0hn Raff3rty
(Login swarmee)

Re: T51 Master Set discussion

October 3 2016, 6:28 AM 

Still need: #23 Amherst, #11 Brown, #4 Cornell, #16 NYU, #14 Williams, and a 2nd Edition Bowdoin, preferably in VG or better condition. I have a trimmed down #5 Kansas and a couple of other cards in need of upgrade.

I currently have the best set on PSA's Registry, and the guy building the second best set bought most of my duplicates. Someone with a high-grade raw set who decides to grade the whole thing could beat me out. The # on front cards are not currently part of the Master Set, but will be once they have graded one of each so that it is a true Master set. I submitted the first # on front sets that they actually specified were a different variation.

I did notice that the 1st Edition Bowdoin's and the 2nd Editions have a different color scheme. The 1st Edition cards are gold on Brown, while the second ones have a layer of Blue in them, and not as much gold foil.

I have a couple of the T6s right now, but am not really going after that one. I am working on the T121 Sweet Cap WWI Scenes.

(Login smpep)

Re: T51 Master Set discussion

October 4 2016, 10:34 PM 

The first series, second edition checklist has Wisconsin on it (although Wisconsin is in the second series, not the first).

I assume this is a typo because the first series, second edition checklist does not have U of Denver on it - and I have that card.

Has anyone ever seen a Wisconsin first series, second edition card?


(Login favag)


October 4 2016, 10:51 PM 

I picked up an Amherst last w/e, but it is 2nd edition so I traded it for an N card
but I had to throw in Notre Dame, Bucknell, & California. I'm happy with the N2.

J0hn Raff3rty
(Login swarmee)

Re: T51 Master Set discussion

October 5 2016, 7:08 AM 

The Wisconsin checklist error was mentioned in my article for The Wrapper, which I crossposted to the PSA message boards.

Since PSA removed me from their message board for a single "snarky" post, I asked all my posts on their site to be deleted, and to my surprise, they actually deleted them all. So here is the article, which was accurate as of October 2014 when it comes to pop reports.

T51 Murad College Series: The Collegiate Monster
By John Rafferty
Can you name the first set to provide the premiere American-issued tobacco cards for basketball, ice hockey, and biathlon? If you guessed the 1909-1910 T51 Murad College Series, you’d be right! This basic set of 150 cards came packaged with Murad Cigarettes and was released in six series of 25 cards each. There are also two editions of the first two series, plus an additional first series variation where the card number was listed on the front. That makes the Master Set 225 cards, and with a standard price for a raw card only $5-10, makes this historically important series achievable for under $2,000. Some collectors of certain colleges can drive wide swings in the prices of certain cards, however. The cards were printed by S. Anargyros in Syracuse, NY, which makes sense since many of the small schools in the upstate NY area are featured in the set.

The artwork on these cards is also masterfully done, with many small details showing either uniforms, plays (the punt on the Harvard football card and the basketball court on Northwestern being my favorite), and hobbies of the Victorian Age. The Northwestern card (pictured above) shows the basket floating (presumably nailed to a wall) with the net still fully woven, prior to cutting the nets so the ball could fall straight through, while the Williams College card shows a defender trying to distract the hoops player attempting to make a throw-in. They also have gold-flecked borders to provide similarities with the T205 series. No multiple factories or different tobacco company advertisements to drive super-huge master sets, though. I have found a miscut back (factory information above the banner) and an 180-deg oriented back.
Among the 150 colleges and universities represented, they span as far north as Canada (McGill, Toronto), south to the University of Texas-Austin, and all the way west to Cal-Berkeley and Stanford, and then traveling up the left coast to Walla Walla, Washington’s Whitman College. All eight current Ivy League schools (Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, U of Penn, and Yale) make an appearance, along with modern sports powerhouses Notre Dame, Penn State, Texas, Tennessee, and Ohio State. Many small schools were included, probably to the chagrin of fans of Alabama, Georgia Tech, Florida, Maryland, and Clemson.
Among the small schools you may not recognize based on their card title, Buchtel College (where John Heisman coached in the 1890s) is now the Akron Zips, Case and Western Reserve merged to form Case-Western, Iowa College is now Grinnell, and Michigan Agricultural College is now East Lansing’s Michigan State Spartans. North-Western College changed its name to North Central College (Naperville, IL), probably to reduce confusion with Northwestern (Evanston, IL). Penn College added their namesake’s first name and now goes by William Penn. The Hilltoppers of Eastern Kentucky University are checklisted here as Central University of Kentucky, while Geneva College now operates as Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn has been rolled into New York University, while Central College now goes by Central Methodist University. University of Chattanooga is now UT-Chattanooga, and maybe most interestingly for fans of Jim Thorpe and Joe Guyon, Dickinson College merged with the Carlisle Indian School, which was a force in native American education and athletics.

Not all schools grew up into full-fledged Universities with tens of thousands of college students: Amity College (College Springs, IA), Cotner University (modern-day Lincoln, NE), Greer College (Hoopeston, IL), Huron College (Huron, SD), Lenox College (Hopkinton, IA), Lombard (Galesburg, IL), and Lebanon (OH) University have all gone defunct, some being driven out of business as a result of the Great Depression. And for only seven of the 150 to not be operating one hundred and five years after printing, that’s a pretty good success rate.
What sports are represented? Well, there are eight baseball themed cards (Antioch, Bethany, Fordham, Haverford, Kentucky Wesleyan, Ohio State, Penn State, and the “State” University of Kentucky Wildcats) to search for. There are basketball subset PSA set registries containing Luther, Northwestern (Wildcats), Williams, and Xavier. A PSA set registry for the golf subset also exists, requiring Baker, Illinois College (not University), Indiana, Millsaps, Purdue, South Carolina, and West Virginia. The first ever rumored hockey card is of Rochester Institute of Technology. Football cards show Buchtel (now Akron), Colgate, Harvard (a turn-of-the-century football powerhouse), Tufts, North Dakota (who now have no team name since they relinquished the Fighting Sioux), and the Michigan Wolverines (another national champion stalwart of the age). Olympic-style sports such as biathlon (cross country skiing combined with rifle shooting), cricket, lacrosse, ice skating, equestrian, rowing, sailing, swimming, and tennis make appearances, but the vast majority of cards depict track and field competitions or outdoor sports like hunting and fishing. So really, there’s something for everyone in this college version of the T206. The service academies of the time, United States Military Academy at West Point, NY and U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, MD were also included, showing a fort and ship, respectively.

Each series had its own back (with a checklist of those 25 in the series), but interestingly, the 2nd edition backs of the first series are incorrect. The publishers replaced the names of University of Denver and the University of Kansas with Wisconsin and Indiana, who were both actually printed in the second series (cards 26-50) 1st and 2nd editions. I believe this to be an uncorrected error (UER). The University of Texas Longhorns (showing a kayaker) are listed improperly on the back of the card as Texas University; also believed to be uncorrected. Hampden-Sydney College (Hampden-Sydney, VA) is listed on the back, in the pennant, and in the seal as Sidney; not sure if this is due to a change in the spelling over time or multiple UERs in the drawing of the original painting from which the lithograph was copied.
As mentioned earlier, the cards from the first series (1-25) were printed in two editions, with a variation of the first edition showing the card number (not matching the order of the colleges on the back) in the bottom right corner. This is a rarer variation, and the key to completing a Master Set of these cards. The Master Set has been requested on PSA’s Set Registry and hopefully will be added soon!
A sister series, the T6 College Series, were a redemption set for mailing away coupons in the Murad pouches. They feature the 1st Series (1-25) of these cards in a much larger postcard size and are also highly collected. Rather than the soft paper stock that the T56 series were printed on (and lead to a very condition sensitive set), the T6 cards are on heavy stock, but are prone to chipping. Nice quality cards of the T6 variety trade around the $50-150 mark for each.
Which cards have been graded most often by PSA and SGC? Overall, the surprise #1 for a single variation is the Adrian College (of MI) card showing biathlon, graded 17 times by PSA with a high of EX 6 and graded 7 times by SGC for a total of 24, based on their population reports as of Oct 1, 2014. Cards in the first series that have three variations are led by the “first” hockey card of Rochester (NY) and Michigan’s football player with 21. All Rochester cards were graded by PSA, while SGC graded 7 of the Michigan card. For cards in the second series (26-50) that had two editions, the State U of Kentucky Wildcat baseball player was graded 27 total times, 20 at PSA and 7 at SGC. The lowest population of graded cards is a tie for 2 between Blackburn College, Boston University, Gustavus Adolphus, Lebanon U, and St Louis U, but some had only been graded once by PSA as of that date. A strange outlier is the Adrian College card, which has been graded 17 times by SGC.
Since these cards are so condition sensitive, no card submitted to either PSA or SGC has EVER been graded MINT (9) or GEM MINT (10). The highest grade out of the Knox College submissions to PSA has only garnered a GOOD (2). Cards at the high end of the spectrum show 8’s for McGill University, Michigan (2nd ed), Chicago (1st ed), Central College, and Washington & Lee (1st ed). But with over 889 submissions at PSA to have only five grade out at NM/MT is only a half percent! The average submission to either company gets approximately a 4. Out of 203 submissions, SGC has only given out two 7.5s as their top grade, for Minnesota and Huron College. If you’re buying them in the raw, realize that these cards should have sharp corners. If they are rounded evenly (like playing cards), they were probably trimmed to look cleaner. Many also have a factory issued packing stamp on the reverse, leading some to garner the MK designation. Some can be found with clean backs as well.
I would have loved to have been in the room of the Murad offices when this set was being commissioned: why were some colleges chosen and others (specifically, my alma mater Georgia Tech with then-head coach John Heisman) left out? Did any colleges opt out of being used in tobacco advertising? Did they even ask the colleges for permission first using a license? How did they determine which sports were painted for each school? Some of the football schools were powerhouses, while Buchtel/Akron only had a 22-27-1 career record through the 1908 season and Tufts was only 99-125-9 at the same time.
I suspect this series is about to become a collectors darling once people start to learn about the set after seeing them at flea markets and antique shows for so many years. They’re a great starter set for someone entering vintage sports/tobacco cards, and are a completely worthy set hosting many of the first cards of their sport! Pick up a couple today and start challenging me on the soon to be created set registry.
Some fun facts about the colleges as of today (or the most recent stats on Wikipedia):
1) The school with the lowest current enrollment is the recently re-opened Antioch College of Yellow Springs, OH, serving 200 students.
2) The largest school with a single campus is Ohio State, who pack the Horseshoe thanks to the help of their 57,500 enrollment.
3) McGill University in Canada has 36,000 students and claims that its alumni were instrumental in founding/refining the rules for football, basketball, and hockey!
4) The “Power Five” conferences ACC (4 if you include half-member Notre Dame), BiG 10 (11), Big XII (4), Pac-12 (3), and SEC (6) are all represented, but have stiff competition from the lower division Ivy League (all 8) and the Patriot League (11, counting partial members).
5) A 2008-09 NBA set was patterned after the Murad College Series, hearkening back to the earliest basketball cards in the country.

This message has been edited by swarmee on Nov 3, 2016 5:02 PM

(Login smpep)

Re: T51 Master Set discussion

October 5 2016, 12:41 PM 


(Login crabeater)

T51 other variations

October 7 2016, 9:27 AM 

Another T51/T6 fan here....

I haven't seen the 2nd ed. Indiana or Wisconsin either.

For Indiana, I have seen "College Series 26-50" printing in black and in gold.
Hard to see in this pic, but you get the idea.

[linked image]

I've also seen this variation on the Central U. of Kentucky 1st series. The framing color on the gold printed version looks more pink than red, too.

[linked image]

The framing color change from cream (1st series) to blue (2nd series) on the Bowdoin card is the only other oddity I've seen in T51. I have two of each so I'm pretty sure it's common and not an error.

[linked image]

J0hn Raff3rty
(Login swarmee)

Re: T51 Master Set discussion

November 3 2016, 5:18 PM 

Bump since I added the Wrapper article in this thread. Here are the cards I mailed off to PSA this week:
#15 Michigan (pictured above) - should get grade next week

October bulk sub (grades around Christmas):
#2 Washington & Jefferson
#8 Texas
#9 Penn State (tattered)
#13 CCNY
#17 Swarthmore
1st Editions 1-50: Indiana, West Virginia
2nd Eds 1-50: Michigan, Williams, Princeton, Rutgers, Texas, CCNY, Yale, Alfred, Harvard, Kentucky
51-150: South Carolina, Purdue, Luther, Occidental, Worcester, Lebanon, Hastings, MIT

Crossover sub:
Tufts College (football) SGC 60/5 EX asked for min 4.5 VG-EX+
Dickinson (2nd Edition) SGC 55/4.5 VG-EX+ asked for min 4 VG-EX

Review sub (playing with house money since these are the "freebies" from last year's renewal), trying to increase the grades at the top of the chart:
Ohio State University PSA 6
Penn State (1st Ed NNO) PSA 4.5
Princeton (1st Ed NNO) PSA 4.5
Indiana (1st Ed) PSA 7

Should get the grades for the Crossovers and Reviews next week as well.

And a shoutout to a board member who wanted to clear out some space and contacted me offering some T51s to improve my set. He sent me an EX-ish 2nd Ed Illinois for free as an upgrade, plus a bonus Helmar coupon. Thanks!!!

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