Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Third Fans cigarettes card reported

Gee! At this rate we should have this set checklisted in about 1,500 years.

Only the third known card in the set issued in 1922 by Fans cigarettes has been reported by Pennsylvania collector John Rumierz.

Fans came late to the cigarette card game, about a decade after the genre's heyday. Jefferson Burdick knew of the issue, giving it the American Card Catalog designation of T231.

Until 1992, only a single card had been reported in the hobby, and the evidence of its existence was a photocopy of the front and back. That was card #85 Carson Bigbee. The existence of that card is today unknown, or at least unknown to those of us who practice the hobby in the wilds of Wisconsin.

In 1992, a Fans card of Frank Baker, #61, surfaced. It is owned by Texas type collector Leon Luckey.

Now comes the confirmation of the existence of a third card. The player depicted is Cleveland Indians' infielder Larry Gardner. According to the back of the card, Gardner was the "leading batter of all 3rd basemen." 

According to the back, the holder of the card "selected" Gardner in some sort of mail-away contest or offer, the details of which are unknown 90 years later. It can be assumed that the send-away nature of these cards contributes to the rarity of survivors today.

What is presumed to be the card number, 65, of the Gardner card falls between the previously cataloged Baker and Bigbee cards. It is probably reasonable to assume that there were at least 85 cards originally issued in the set.

Fans cards are printed in black-and-white in a format of about 1-1/2" x 2-1/2."

Rumierz said he purchased the card nearly 30 years ago at one of the legendary Willow Grove shows. The seller was a New Jersey dealer, the late Tom Reid. John is in the process of reorganizing his lifelong collection of vintage cards and has been making periodic contributions to the opus of hobby knowledge by sharing his holdings with us in this forum.

When the Larry Gardner Fans card is added to the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, it will be unpriced.  Like the Bigbee and the Baker, it is unique and its value can only be assessed by a public sale. Even then, the value would be a snapshot of a particular point in hobby time, rather than a "book" value.

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