Saturday, March 12, 2011

Generic '47 Signal Twinks Discovered

An heretofore uncataloged vintage minor league issue has been reported by Maine collector Bob Thing.

While it is unsure how the set was distributed, it is possible, likely even, that it was a team-issue.

The newly reported set is a repurposing of the artwork done by period baseball cartoon artist Al Demaree, who, as noted under his signature line on each card, was a "PITCHER N.Y. GIANTS - 1912-19." Actually, while those dates define the range of Demaree's big league career, he also pitched for the Phillies, Cubs and Braves in that span.

One of several 1930s and 1940s baseball card sets for which Demaree provided artwork was the 89-card Pacific Coast League issue sponsored by Signal Gasoline and local radio stations in 1947, comprising between 16-20 cards of each of five PCL teams.

Those gas station giveaway cards were in an horizontal format of about 5-9/16" x 3-1/2".

That's the same size as the central portion of the newly reported set. The format of the "new" set has the artwork centered on an 8" x 6" card printed on thin semi-gloss cardboard. Above the cartoon is "STUDYING THE STARS By AL DEMAREE".

The Studying the Stars cards differ from the Signal gasoline version in that the latter have a Signal logo somewhere on the front. The gas cards also have printing on the back that includes player biographical and career information, along with sponsors' advertising. The newly reported set has blank backs.

Bob sent photocopies of eight Studying the Stars cards. The Signal team set comprised 20 cards. It is not known whether the blank-backed "generic" version shares the same checklist. It will be interesting to see whether a team-issue Woody Williams is ever found.

Williams' card is one of the scarcest of the short-prints in the 1947 Signal series. It was probably pulled from distribution when Williams left Hollywood for Indianapolis in midseason 1947.

Assigning a "book value" to the team-issue Stars cards is a theoretical exercise. There's no doubt they are much scarcer than the Signal ad-back version, but the generics are likely to have considerably less popularity. Unless some market history develops in the interim, we'll probably start the Studying the Stars cards out on a par with the Signals in the 2013 book.

The eight cards for which we have confirmation are: Ed Albosta, Jim Delsing, manager Jimmy Dykes, Frank Kelleher, Joe Krakauskas, Al Libke, Andy Skurski and Gus Zernial. 

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