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Monday, February 18, 2008

Card of the Week 2/18/08

Last week I gave you a steath Braves representative for Card of the Week, this week I'm giving you a double barrel of Bravos right in the face. We'll start off with THE Brave. Face of the Franchise, so to speak. Mr. Larry Wayne Jones.

It's actually pretty surprising it took this long for Chipper to become the card of the week. I could switch the format of this blog to "All Chipper, All The Time" and still be able to post at my current rate for 3-4 years. I got a lot of Chipper cards. Nothing fancy enough to compete with the Supercollectors out there, but what I lack in patches, 1 of 1s and autos, I make up for in sheer volume. This here is my newest Chipper card, do you know what it is? If you said yet another one of those Topps retro cards, then you are correct, sir. This week's Card of the Week is actually last week's card of the week, for Topps' Trading Card History giveaway at Hobby shops. For those of you who have a hobby shop close by that's actually a good hobby shop and doesn't charge their customers for HTA promos or sell them all on eBay, this is the card you could get for free with a purchase of a Topps pack last week. If you didn't get one, just ask the good hobby shop owner about it and maybe they'll be nice and let you have it anyway. If not, there's always the ones on eBay.

So now we know what it is, but what is it? Well it's Chipper on a very simply designed card with a very dark background. Flip the card over and we see Trading Card History TCH31 T-207 and a write up on Chipper's career. OK, so if Topps can be trusted, we can assume that this is copying the T-207 design. So what's that? A tobacco card like T-205 or T-206? That is correct! This is a set put out in 1912 that is the same size as the T-205 and T-206 sets but is generally a little scarcer that the other two. The set is known as the Brown Backs due to the distinctive background. The backs of the cards are very simple, they have the player name up top, a bio of the player taking up two thirds of the card in the middle and an advertisement for a tobacco brand at the bottom. An ad for Recruit Little Cigars is the most common, but five other brands are known. The set is not as popular as the T-206 and T-205 sets due to a weak player selection and a somewhat drab look to the cards, but it's still considered one of the "big three" Tobacco sets of the era. It's also a gold mine for Team collectors as there are a lot of obscure players with few or no other cards from the period. Here's what an original T-207 card looks like:

This here is Irving Lewis, who supposedly played for the Boston Braves (or the Rustlers, as they were known in 1911). Collectors familiar with the set just did a double take. Irving's card is one of three insanely rare cards out of the set, the other two being Ward Miller of the Cubs and Louis Lowdermilk of the Cardinals. The scarcity might be a reflection of their careers. Miller didn't play in 1911, but came back in 1912 to play a few years including a very good stint in the Federal League. Lou Loudermilk pitched only 20 games in the majors and poor Irving may have never made it at all. I can't find even the slightest information about his career anywhere online on in any of my books. The only matches for "Irving Lewis" in an online search bring up an author, a philosopher and some guy named Scooter. The cards may have been pulled early in the run or simply not replaced after a printing plate broke since they were such fringe players. Loudermilk is easily the scarcest and by far the most valuable card from the set, but Irving trumps him by having a variation as seen in this article from the Spring '84 edition of the Baseball-Hobby card report:


Irving's card (already hard to find) can be found with a Braves logo on the sleeve and without. Since the team was known as the Rustlers in 1911 before changing their name back to the Braves in 1912, the logo variation was probably printed later to reflect the change. Why the change was made on a player that was extremely short printed and never played a game in the majors, I couldn't say. Before you ask how the heck I managed to get one of the rarest baseball cards in existence, the truth is I got it out of an early 80's Baseball Card Collector kit. Possibly the same kit where I got the magazine I scanned that article from. Here's the back of the card:

Simple and to the point. A classic example of early 80's reprint sets. Cards like this is where I first learned about and became fascinated by the early tobacco and bubblegum baseball cards. How could you not be fascinated by this boring little card where the original is somehow worth 700 dollars? (Nowadays you're looking at more like three to four thousand) Plus since Irving never quite made it to the Show, his T-207 cards and subsequent reprints are the only cards of him at all. I'm glad Topps chose Chipper in a T-207 design to kick off their card giveaway program because it allows me to highlight and correct the most glaring problem with their otherwise excellent Trading card History set. Here's a scan of the back:


There's a whole lot on there about Chipper, but nothing at all about what the heck a T-207 could be. The "Brown Background" label isn't even mentioned. It's really not so much a Trading Card History set, but a Trading Card Design set, which is a shame. There's a lot of interesting information out there on these old sets, more than enough to fit on the back of a card. I'm collecting this set this year and I've decided to show off my collection by posting each of them throughout the season and helping Topps out by filling in on the History part. Topps couldn't link to an awesome T-207 gallery of the original set on the back of their card, but they could point out that one of the best cards in the set is one of White Sox third baseman Buck Weaver of Eight Men Out fame. These old style cards are much more fun to pull when you actually know about the design used on the card.

13 comments:

Joey said...

Nice pick this week and thanks for the history lesson.

I was in a shop in the Arlington, TX area last year that had a bunch of last years free Topps cards. We visited for quite awhile about the hobby in general. I bought a bunch of packs and supplies and he gave me a whole set of the giveaway cards.

Next time I am in Arlington I will visit this shop owner again.

On Base Autos said...

I have to move. No shops anywhere close to me. Keep the Chipper cards coming. Having just started my son a Chipper collection, I love looking at them. We have a long way to go. I have been watching lots on ebay for Chipper but keep missing out. I did get a nice patch card last night for .99 though. I think that gets our total Chipper collection up to about 15 cards.

Brian said...

new blog! NEW BLOG! All Chipper, All the Time!
between you and me, five years worth easy. Followed by at least 6 years of Smoltzie...

Julie L said...

i have a t-207 1912 tobacco card lewis exactly like you have on your website what is it worth???

Anonymous said...

i have the exact same 1912 lewis card as you show, but the back of my card is slightly reddish or pinkish and has a value of $2000, is that a variation of the card or a misprint of some type? everything else matches ur card perfectly

dayf said...

Anonymous: I got my card in a packaged card collector's kit back in the early 80's. If the back looks the same just with a different color and value, it's probably a printing from a few years later. There isn't any copyright or company information on my card though so I'm not sure who manufactured it so I can look for more information.

Julie: Reprints aren't traditionally considered legitimate card issues but there's still a market for them among hard core collectors who can't afford the originals. I've seen them sell for a couple of bucks each online and there's a shop near me with some of these ones from the 80's selling them anywhere from 2-20 dollars each depending on the card.

Vern said...

Ok so we were reading your blog, and noticed you had a reprint of the lewis-boston-nat 1912 tobacco card. You have the one from the 1980's and We just found an original from 1912. it is far from perfect condition but just wanted to share that with you.

Katina Yates said...

we have the same card that you shown, only ours does not have the emblem on the sleeve and the back of the card where your box is yellow ours is red. Does this mean ours is a reprint? does it have any value to it? is it still important to our collection?

Anonymous said...

Hey I have a baseball card of him, he doesn't have an Indian on his sleeve, but on the back instead of the top section being yellow, it's red, and it says,
Lewis (Boston-NL)
Value $2000.00
1912 Tobacco Card
I was wondering if you could help me out, I found it in an old shoe box that my dad said didn't have anything of value in it, and I'm kinda strapped for cash right now, and was wondering if you could tell me a little more about this card.

Anonymous said...

I have. The card on top. It has a red box to and it says. Value $700.00 1912 tobacco. Card. I had it for a long time got it the 80's when. I was a kid now IM 33 yrs now. Is the card got any value

Rod said...

Hi, I've been trying to find someone who tell me about the card I have had for years and it looks like your reprint card is the closest I've seen like mine. I have what looks to be the same card as yours but instead of the info box on the back being yellow, mine is red. No idea what this reprint is worth do you?

Anonymous said...

where are the answers to all the questions??????????

songs pk said...

Hey I have a baseball card of him, he doesn't have an Indian on his sleeve, but on the back instead of the top section being yellow, it's red, and it says