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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Allen Ginter Project : Card #14 N20 Fifty Prize and Game Chickens

Collecting Allen and Ginter cards from 120 years ago shows just how different life was then as compared to now. Nowadays non-sport collectors can open packs of Wacky Packages, Webkinz, and Donruss Americana. Back in 1892, collectors could complete a set of... chickens. That's right, chickens. 50 cards of nothing but chickens. What can I say, they liked chickens back then. And boy are there chickens. Every type of chicken imaginable. Most with ridiculous names like "silky cock", "black frizzle fowl" and "silver-grey dorking hen" that make immature people like me snicker. Normally I don't care a thing about chickens unless they are fried, grilled, roasted or fricasseed, but if you want an Allen & Ginter type set, you gotta buy the birds. Here, let me show you my co- um, my chicken...

I have a Gold-Laced Bantam which is not only quite a traditional looking chicken, but it has a very respectable name as well. It's a pretty nice looking card too, complete back, decent corners and only a light crease that follows the line of the wall behind the chicken so you really have to look to see it. The only major defects on the card are a spot of paper stuck to the front and the fact that someone wrote their name on the bottom left corner. As far as I'm concerned the name only enhances the card in my opinion. I don't care about some random chicken, but I'm actually pretty curious about who this Müller fellow is and why they felt it necessary to mark this particular chicken as their own. Did the biologist Fritz Müller use this card in his research? Perhaps Eduard Müller smoked Allen & Ginters as mayor of Berne, Switzerland? Or maybe little nine year old Ludwig was a card collector before he became a Nazi? Whoever it was they had fascinating penmanship, with their emoticon ü and gaffing hook r.

This is one of the later sets of Allen & Ginter cards as it shows that A&G is now a part of the American Tobacco Company (a pretty fascinating story in itself) on the back of the card. So how much would you pay for an ancient chicken? I picked up this little dish from eBayer 4baggger for the low, low price of one dollar. That's right one buck! The only place you can get a chicken for a buck anywhere else is maybe McDonalds, and this chicken is fresher. Not only that,but I got this card at the same time:

1955 Bowman George Kell, also for one dollar. A vintage Hall of Famer for one smacker! Ok, so the Kell is way off center and the side is bent, who cares, it was a buck. Two bucks for a legendary third baseman and a hundred and fifteen year old chicken. I love eBay! I lied though, I was actually quite keen to find a chicken for my collection just so I could post a video of the immortal Henry Cabot Henhouse the Third:

When you find yourself in danger
When you're threatened by a stranger
When it looks like you will take a lickin'
puk, puk, puk, puk!

There is someone waiting,
Who will hurry up and rescue you,
just Caaaaaaall for Super Chicken!
puk, ack!

Fred, if you're afraid you'll have to overlook it
Besides you knew the job was dangerous when you took it
puk, ack!

He will drink his super sauce
And throw the bad guys for a loss
And he will bring them in alive and kickin'
puk, puk, puk, puk

There is one thing you should learn
When there is no one else to turn to
Caaaaaaall for Super Chicken!
puk, puk, puk, puk

Caaaaaaall for Super Chicken!
puk, ack!



Steve Gierman said...

They will ultimately find a way to put Super Chicken on the big screen, thus screwing up yet another of my favorite childhood memories.

Cool chicken card!

Anonymous said...

I used to raise chickens for FFA in school. My favorite was the Japanese Fan Tail. Did they make one of those? It is white with black tips on the wings and tail.

Anonymous said...

I just went back and looked at the scan of the back of the chicken card. They have a Japanese Bantam listed there. Off I go to Ebay.

AlbuqwirkE said...

It is a sad commentary on our society that a beautiful 120-year-old card like this one is only valued at a fifth of a modern similar item featuring Derek Jeter.

As a card collector, I'd rather have the chicken. As a manager of a baseball team, I'd still choose to play the chicken.

dayf said...

Don't do it man, you start with one chicken and before you know it you have a box full of tobacco cards :)

Anonymous said...

The chicken commentary absolutely tore me up. Hilarious stuff.

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