Saturday, September 12, 2009

Standard Catalog Update #22 : 1967 Ashland Oil

Jim Maloney existence confirmed

The 1967 Ashland Oil “Grand Slam Baseball” contest card of Reds pitcher Jim Maloney has a lock on “comeback” card of the year. The card was on the verge of being excised from the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards as non-existent.

We now know that the card is not extinct, but is certainly on the endangered list.The 2010 edition of the book listed the card as “existence now questioned.” That will be changed in the 2011 edition to reflect the fact that at least one example of the card has been confirmed. Veteran collector John Rumierz has provided a scan of what may well be the sole surviving Maloney card from that gas station promotion.

As has been common with similar promotions involving baseball cards over the past century, to avoid giving away too many high-dollar prizes, contest promoters often released one or more cards in quantities much more limited than the rest. That is evidently the case in the 1967 Ashland contest.

The Ashland contest pieces were a 7-1/2” x 2” triplefolder card that featured a square black-and-white player portrait card in the center. The identity of the particular player determined whether or which prize had been won.

The currently unique Maloney card has been cancelled, presumably by an oil company contest official, in red felt tip ink “void” with a set of initials. Frequent column/catalog contributor Larry Serota, speculates that the survival of this cancelled example “would probably mean full-size ones that haven’t been voided either don’t exist or are somewhere in Ashland Oil’s files.”

With about a year to go before the 2011 book’s deadline, unless another example of the Ashland Maloney turns up, we will amend that set’s listing to reflect the unique nature of the Maloney, unpriced of course, and specify the set as “complete” at 11 cards.

The 2011 catalog will also, for the first time, carry a number of new “endangered” notations in the listings, particularly in the E121 American Caramel sets of 1921 (Series of 80) and 1922 (Series of 120). Recent discussions on the Network 54 Vintage Baseball Card Forum have rightly questioned the accuracy of checklists for those sets that have long been accepted in the hobby’s major reference catalogs. Such errors have occurred over the past decades as mistakes were made in identification of cards, in the conveyance of information to catalogers, or assumptions made that if a particular card or variation exists in one set, it must also exist in a closely related set. Advanced collectors in E121, as well as in other areas of the card world, have compiled, through their own want lists and those of colleagues chasing the same sets, lists of cards that are suspected to not actually exist, regardless of their appearance in our catalog or other references.With forums such as Network 54 and the rest of the internet providing easier than ever communications among collectors and the ability to share images via posted or e-mailed scans, cleaning up cataloging errors that have been promulgated for a generation is now feasible.

The standard process we use with the “big book” is to modify the suspect listings by removing their pricing and adding the “existence now questioned,” notation. If, after sufficient inquiry on respected forums and a year or two of “ENQ” status in the printed catalog, credible evidence of a card’s existence is not forthcoming, the listing will be deleted.

Of course such cards can always be relisted in the future should the dispersal of some old-school collection provide evidence of existence.

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