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The Toughest Non-Sports Cards to Find

January 7 2017 at 2:34 PM
Robert T Mruczek  (Login RMruczek)


I'm curious what the absolute hardest non-sports cards to find are from the vintage era (pre-1980). I'm aware of just a few, some only be anecdotal recollections over the years.

-> "Sea Raiders" map card #45 seems to be one ultra tough card to find in any grade
-> "US Caramel Presidents" (1932) "McKinley" card is another, so much so that some collectors consider their set complete without it
-> I recollect a very old "Wrapper" article making mention of a "Wild West" series card, number #25, but cannot remember further details
-> I am unsure if there are any "Wacky Packages" cards that are extremely scarce...or I might be thinking of "Garbage Pail Kids", neither of which I collect

Those are the ones that I am aware of as far as single cards which are extremely scarce.

I collect "G-Men and Heroes of the Law", a 168 card set which has five "Ultra Rare" and seven (minimum) "Rare" cards in addition to scarcer high numbers, but ultra rare or not I still see them in auction on a regular basis.

Not sure if unchecked checklists should be considered in this discussion, specifically thinking about the "Three Stooges" 1959 color set...the checklist itself (checked or not) I do not believe is rare, just whether it is unchecked might be rare, so by itself I chose to leave these cards off my initial list.

I recollect reading somewhere a claim that a specific "Gilligan's Island" (1965) card of Gilligan flying, number #37 I believe, is scarce but based on the PSA population alone that is not the case.

What are the other holy grail cards in the vintage non-sports hobby based on rarity alone ?

Thanks !!


This message has been edited by RMruczek on Jan 7, 2017 2:37 PM

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J0hn Raff3rty
(Login swarmee)

Re: The Toughest Non-Sports Cards to Find

January 7 2017, 4:10 PM 

Well, the Marquis card which is supposed to be the first ever tobacco card would be on this list.

There were a number of cards for caramel and chocolate sets that if you sent in a completed set to the manufacturer they would send you a giant box of chocolate or a set of ice skates or something. So one card from the set was short-printed in order to reduce the number of winners and drive additional sales. That's why the McKinley and the western uniform card are rare today.

(Login imarobot)

Re: The Toughest Non-Sports Cards to Find

January 7 2017, 4:29 PM 

The four "error" cards in the N2 American Indian Chiefs set come to mind.

Jon Hardgrove
(Login carbking)

Re: The Toughest Non-Sports Cards to Find

January 7 2017, 5:39 PM 

This is going to be an interesting thread.

As to overall scarcity, I cannot say; but 2 that I personally have found difficult:

(1) Goudey 1937 Vermont license plate (I can't even find anyone that has seen one!!!).
(2) Any values from Bazooka World Famous Stamps. Allegedly a 12 card set, only 8 seem to be known.


(Login egbeachley)

Re: The Toughest Non-Sports Cards to Find

January 7 2017, 11:10 PM 

Sea Raiders Map, McKinley President, Wild West #25? Those are easy - at least 6 known of each of them.

Tough question to answer as there are so many cards with 1-known example and some less. For example:

T90 Nature: Card #10 still unknown. Not really unusual as there are 30 numbered cards in the set but less than 140 total have been documented. Three of the cards have 2 known examples and three have 3 known examples.

N224 Military: Six of the cards have just 2-4 known examples. Six more with 5-6 known. Of the 12, half have not been offered for sale in last 15 years.

N197 Scenes: Supposedly 11 cards exist. I have seen one example of 4 of them in 20 years.

T128 Indians: 79 cards have not yet been found. Big improvement from 15 years ago when there were 117 cards not yet found. About 30 cards are the only known example.

N6**: Dozens, if not 100's of examples, are the only known card.

N398: I have a card not in the latest WTI guide that came out 2 years ago.

N400 State Seals: About 8 new examples have been discovered in the last 8 years.

T64 Generals: Lee just discovered 10 years ago, now 2 examples. One card just discovered 3 years ago (forget the name).

...............and those are just the sets that I collect...............

Edited to add that N6** means the sets between N600 to N699. Not N6 Allen & Ginter flags. I apologize for the confusion.

This message has been edited by egbeachley on Jan 23, 2017 8:37 AM

(Login visionlure)

Re: The Toughest Non-Sports Cards to Find

January 8 2017, 8:13 AM 

A very generous list from Eric, much appreciated.
I collect mostly candy and gum, and claim there are thousands
of rare cards still to be found. That is one of the beauties
of non-sports, anyone can own a one-of-a-kind card or box or wrapper.
I stumbled upon these a few months ago, a couple bucks for the lot

[linked image]

I dont believe they are check listed. Just one of many many sets out there waiting to be found.

Brian Chidester
(Login bcxists)

Re: The Toughest Non-Sports Cards to Find

January 8 2017, 9:44 AM 

N515. I've never seen a single one offered.

Todd Riley

Re: The Toughest Non-Sports Cards to Find

January 10 2017, 6:11 PM 

This is easy...

Toughest - everything on my want list

Easiest - everything I have for sale!

(Login Steve_NY)

Re: The Toughest Non-Sports Cards to Find

January 10 2017, 11:17 PM 

How about a variation on this -- What are the rarest or toughest wrappers to find?

I would offer one of them as the first A version of the Indian Gum wrapper with the canoe. In 40 years, I have found only two of them, even though I have probably had about 70+ IG wrappers in the past, and probably still own about 50 of them. Hugh Jones would always buy one from me every time he visited.

Are there any other truly rare wrappers out there?

How about the Canadian Horrors or War last series? The cards in that last series are very tough to find -- so what about the wrapper?


Les Davis
(Login LesWrap1)

By all means

January 11 2017, 11:53 AM 

Keep this thread going! Food for a future Wrapper "article." Thanks, guys!


(Login boxingcardman)

Re: The Toughest Non-Sports Cards to Find

January 11 2017, 1:34 PM 

Some of the Engrav-O-Tint weight machine cards are very tough to find. In particular Bela Lugosi. I have seen only one or two and regret selling the one I did have. I've also had the Buster Crabbe (no hat) on my want list for a long time and I cannot confirm Karloff or two of the Marx Brothers (Harpo and Zeppo).

[linked image]
[linked image]

The cards from this arcade set are very tough, and again, the Lugosi and the Karloff lead the way:

[linked image]

Always a shout out for the Oh Boy Gum cards on any list of rarities:

[linked image]

This entertainment set is brutal and it has a Babe Ruth:

[linked image]
[linked image]

Anything from the Universal Surprise Box is really tough:

[linked image]

This is a very tough strip issue:

[linked image]

There are numerous very tough cards among Exhibits.

The 1926 vaudeville set is ultra rare; most cards I've seen only once or twice and I have only about a dozen (of a presumed 32) cataloged

[linked image]

The Duke Kahanamoku card has shown up under ten times over the 20 years I've been collecting:

[linked image]

Anything from the 1925 freaks and oddities issue is tough; another one I've been cataloging and collecting for years:

[linked image]

The larger sized versions of these 1931 strip cards is tough; I was very pleased to find the Thorpe

[linked image]

Even tougher are the versions of the cards with the tabs. The thin orange Thorpe above is from that version but has the tab removed. Here is what the cards look like with tab:

[linked image]

I suspect the tabs had redemption value at arcades.

These mixed sport and entertainment cards, very rough:

[linked image]

These mid-20s cross-over interest sport and entertainment cards are very tough to find:

[linked image]
[linked image]

This message has been edited by boxingcardman on Jan 11, 2017 1:38 PM


Jack J.
(Login fallbrookjack)

Toughest Non-Sports Cards/Wrappers

January 11 2017, 2:15 PM 

Steve, good expansion of the topic.

Wrapper collecting as a formal hobby is relatively new. For this reason there is less documentation and probably a higher percentage of undiscovered material than with cards. Many wrappers known within the hobby have only one or two examples, and there are most likely more wrappers that are yet to be discovered. Some wrappers have quite a few examples, but because of their popularity, are considered to be rare (Mars Attacks for one). The list of wrappers that I would consider rare is long. They are mostly ones that I don't have (sigh). Here's just a start on what I think are rare.

Suzanna - Shotwell
Explorers of America - Loose Wiles
Flags of Nations - Baltimore Gum
League of Nations - Novelty Gum
Make Faces - Independent Candy
Dare Devils - National Chicle
Fighting Plane - Shelby
United States Heroes Caramels - U.S. Caramels
Yellow Kid Scrip - Pulver
Big Thrill - Goudey
G-Men (high series) - Gum Inc.
Wham Gum - Pulver
Spy Gum (Jeepers Creepers version) - Gumakers
Jets, Rockets, Spacemen 5 Cent - Bowman
Red Menace - Bowman

If anyone disagrees with me on these because they have a stack of them somewhere, let me know.

- Jack J.

(Login visionlure)


January 11 2017, 6:43 PM 

Good list Jack
I might add the following:

Commando Rangers
Guess Who
Do You Know
Jenny Lind Chewing Gum
Mo Jo Chewing Gum
Scharley Questions
Buck Barton
Crime Did Not Pay

This message has been edited by visionlure on Jan 11, 2017 6:45 PM

(Login 030190)


January 11 2017, 7:00 PM 

Just a few additional Wrappers that are tough: (sorry if I repeat any already mentioned)..


Not to mention (which I will not) the Topps Test Sets Wrappers..


Jack J.
(Login fallbrookjack)

Tough Wrappers

January 11 2017, 7:56 PM 

Great wrapper additions, Jim and Marty. Looks like I'll be searching the internet for a long, long time to come.

I put my list together based mostly on what I've seen (or not seen) on the internet and info from the Gallery, Chat Board and a couple of collectors. What I have no sense of is wrappers that are socked away in long time collections.

I'd like to see two lists, one of wrappers where there is only one known example and a list of probable wrappers that have not been found yet. An example of the latter would be a Shotwell Molly-O wrapper.

- Jack J.

(Login visionlure)

Re: The Toughest Non-Sports Cards to Find

January 11 2017, 9:22 PM 

I think four lists would be required because there are
basically two types of wrappers
Wrappers that are cards and wrappers that were packaging

(Login Steve_NY)

Re: The Toughest Non-Sports Cards to Find

January 12 2017, 12:20 AM 

As has been suggested, it is very difficult to know what wrappers are sitting in collections versus those that are still waiting to be found.

I agree that the above lists are a very good start but if I have the wrapper, I don't really see it as being difficult to find, in most cases.

It would be nice to come up with a list that breaks out and combines:
1 --Truly rare wrappers where only a few are known to exist
2 --Tough wrappers that do not show up frequently
3 --Expensive wrappers that do show up frequently; is Mars Attacks the only one?

Back in the day, large accumulations of wrappers showed up in small boxes; I can't tell you how many times I picked up exactly the same type of groupings. Many times, the collector was saving the wrappers to turn them in for some other form of premium and they never got to do that. I remember vividly picking up a large box of wrappers of Casper, Pirates Bold and Fleer Indians; all in gorgeous condition.

The week later, I watched a guy circle the show room in Norwalk CT until he reached me and what he showed me was wrapper gold (at least to me) -- 25 Canadian Sky birds wrappers with the colorful small biplanes which I agreed to buy instantly. Then he came back later with ten more. But not one other so called dealer in the room was interested in them. Scary -- but how far would they get in the room today until someone bought them? Just because they were old and possibly valuable.

Does anyone remember the amazing East Brunswick sports card show in the 1970s and early 1980s. I always had the first spot in the door (which I refused to part with), and in that room every show was a guy who used to pile up his wrappers 50 to 200 high; and they were all from the 1930s to the 1950s. Now they are all rather expensive and he would sell them for $20 to $50 each back then. You could always make a deal to buy 5 Horrors of War wrappers or similar. It's been a long time but was that Sal Visalli? I just can't remember and I am not certain, but maybe Les Davis knows if Sal was from Jersey. Either way, his display was just so incredible and I always came home with lots of money and wrappers too.

Sorry to ramble, but I have always found wrapper, display box and uncut card sheets the most challenging part of the hobby.

Steve Sabow

(Login egbeachley)

Re: The Toughest Non-Sports Cards to Find

January 12 2017, 8:25 AM 

N476 - Mrs GB Miller Celebrities. When American Tobacco Cards by Forbes and Mitchell came out there were just 5 cards known. We are now up to 10 with 3-4 of them only having 1-2 cards known.

I think the true response is that there are 100's and possibly 1000's of cards that were made but not yet discover d. Still sitting in albums or crates waiting for the next family member to come along and find them. I imagine there are also 100's of cards in collections that the collector himself doesn't know that they have the only one.

Les Davis
(Login LesWrap1)

Yes, Steve

January 12 2017, 10:12 AM 

That was most likely the irrepressible Sal Visalli, the spark that lit The Wrapper pre-1980. Sal hailed from Waldwick, New Jersey. I would like to hear if Sal is still with us. Anyone?

(Login Steve_NY)

Re: The Toughest Non-Sports Cards to Find

January 12 2017, 4:39 PM 


Sal's for sale display would make most collectors and dealers drool, even back then. He was way ahead of the curve. I hadn't heard his name mentioned in many years but I'll never forget him. You could always find John Neuner at his display or mine searching the room for wrappers he needed.

Actually, going back in time about 30+ years at the National in LA, I walked into the room with a large collection of Bazooka Joes from the 1950's, and John bought another batch from me every day for 4 days. I had my whole family with me as it was our first trip to the West coast, and John helped pay for all of our dinners and side trips just from Bazooka Joes.

Life is strange.


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