Thursday, February 13, 2014

Discovery set worthy of memorializing

If I was still involved in the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, this is an issue that I surely would have incorporated into the listings.

Since it's unknown whether either Krause or Beckett will pick up on this eBay listing for their big catalogs, I figured I'd record it here for hobby posterity. Besides, its a 1950s Milwaukee Braves issue, so it's right in the wheelhouse of my card interest.

While doing the research for my recent 1955 Johnny Logan custom card (see the entry for Feb. 7), I found the Logan card from this set listed on eBay.

Digging a bit deeper, I found the seller was also offering cards of Lou Burdette and Harvey Kuenn from the same issue.

These cards appear to have been issued in the 1950s by the West Allis State Bank. Then, as now, West Allis was a Milwaukee suburb adjacent to County Stadium.That explains the appearance of the two Braves in the set. Kuenn was evidently included because he was a native of West Allis. While he was managing the Brewers in their glory years he maintained a tavern and home there.

Besides the white facsimile autograph on the front of each card, there is this attribution: Courtesy of / WEST ALLIS / STATE BANK / on the triangle MEMBER F.D.I.C.

There are few clues as to period of issue. The uniform worn by Kuenn was current between the time of his debut with the Tigers in 1952 through the 1959 season. Burdette's sleeve patch is that worn between the team's arrival in Milwaukee in 1953 and prior to the adoption of the "screaming Brave" in 1957. The photo of Logan offers no clue.

It's not known whether any other players were included in the set, nor is the method of distribution readily apparent. My best guess is that the cards were made available at the bank in conjunction with autograph appearances by the pictured players.

The cards themselves are about 7-1/2" x 9" on what the seller describes as "thick glossy stock." They are blank-backed.

Since I'd never seen these cards in 35+ years of collecting and cataloging vintage cards, I assume they are rare. Whether they are rare enough to actually find a buyer at the listed prices remains to be seen. The seller is asking $495 each for Logan and Burdette and $395 for Kuenn, describing the cards as Fair to Good in condition. Besides the three singles, it looks like he has at least one more example of each, offering a set of three for $1,195.

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