Thursday, May 17, 2012

Original ad offered Callahan HOF set for 60 cents

Nothing too profound this time . . . just an ad that I thought collectors of 1950s baseball cards would enjoy seeing from a 1952 issue of The Sporting News.

I never had any interest in collecting the little cards that are known to the hobby as Callahan Hall of Fame, but they predated Topps cards and have informative back write-ups. The artwork on front varies greatly in quality, in my opinion.

If you're not familiar with the issue, I don't think I can do a better job of presenting their background than what I wrote for the set's introduction in the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards many years ago.

"These cards, which feature artist Mario DeMarco's drawings of Hall of Famers, were produced from 1950 through 1956 and sold by the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and at major league ballparks. The cards measure 1-3/4" x 2-1/2" and include a detailed player biography on the back. When introduced in 1950 the set included all members of the Hall of Fame up to that time, and then new cards were added each year as more players were elected. Therefore, cards of players appearing in all previous editions are more common than those players who appeared in just one or two years. When the set was discontinued in 1956 it consisted of 82 cards, which is now considered a complete set. The cards are not numbered. B.E. Callahan of Chicago, the publisher of 'Who's Who in Baseball,' produced the card set."

The checklist in the catalog notes a number of back-text variations. In the 2012 edition of the catalog, the original boxed set of 62 cards is valued at $500 in Near Mint condition, with the complete 82-card set listed at $600.

I see that there are hundreds of the Callahan cards offered on eBay at any given time, many of them slabbed in high grades by the certification companies, due to the fact that the cards were issued in boxes and may not have been handled much. While some optimistic sellers try to get thousands of dollars for complete PSA-graded sets, single cards of many players can be had for under $5 each.

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