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Old 05-17-2017, 12:11 AM
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David Kathman
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Default Hobby history: Memories of card collecting in the 1880s (from 1942-43)

One of the first posts I made on this board, more than two years ago, was a scan of an article by Arthur H. Folwell from the May 4, 1929 New Yorker magazine. It contained his memories of collecting "cigarette pictures" (including Old Judges and other baseball cards) as a boy in the 1880s, and it was arguably "the first article about baseball cards", as George Vrechek called it in the pages of Sports Collector's Digest more than a decade ago. Here is my post with that 1929 article: http://net54baseball.com/showthread.php?t=202129, and here is George Vrechek's article about that article, including a passing mention of yours truly: http://www.oldbaseball.com/refs/First_Article.pdf

Vrechek speculates at the end of his article that Folwell "would have been a willing contributor to Jefferson Burdick's Card Collectors Bulletin in the 1930s had the two ever contacted each other." I know of no evidence that Folwell ever contacted Burdick or became aware of the card collecting hobby once it became organized starting in the late 1930s. However, among Burdick's early subscribers were several other men who had collected cards as children in the 1880s; some of them wrote to Burdick with their reminiscences, and one of them wrote a very interesting collecting autobiography which Burdick published (in unfortunately edited form) in 1943. Now that I have the first five years of Card Collector's Bulletin (1939-1944), won in the recent REA auction, I'm going to post these articles, and later others of interest when I have the time.

The first article below is from the February 1, 1942 Card Collector's Bulletin (#16). It's a discussion of when the first cigarette insert cards were issued (as opposed to advertising trade cards), one of numerous articles that Burdick wrote on the topic in this period. In this article he quotes letters he had received from two old-timers, Clayton W. Rosencrance of Indiana and P. M. Nagle of Long Island. They didn't have anything super-interesting to say, and their memories may have been faulty after 50+ years (as Burdick notes), but it's still interesting to read the words of these men who may have collected Old Judges when they came out.

The second article below is from the December 1, 1943 Card Collector's Bulletin (#27), written by C. G. Sturtevant. He describes how he became a big collector of trade cards as a boy in 1885 and 1886, then got his first cigarette insert cards in the summer of 1888 and became an avid collector of them. Arthur Folwell, in his New Yorker article, claimed to have no recollection of how he actually obtained his cards, but Sturtevant remembered this in great detail, and he also remembered how most of his cards got ruined by a rainstorm in the summer of 1890, and how the rest of his collection disappeared after he went off to the army in 1898. Burdick, in his editor's note, says that he had to cut out a lot of what Sturtevant wrote for space reasons. That's frustrating, but I'm still grateful for what we do have of Sturtevant's memories.

Eventually I'll post more from those CCBs, including the first known checklists of T206, T205, T207, T209, T210, T211, and T212, among others, plus info on card prices during World War II, a favorite topic of Burdick's during those years.





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Old 05-17-2017, 04:59 AM
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Tim
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Very interesting reading................thank you for posting.
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Old 05-17-2017, 05:15 AM
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I love these articles, David. Post away!

jeff
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Old 05-17-2017, 11:35 AM
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Here's an obituary of Sturtevant that appeared in the January 10, 1953 issue of Billboard magazine. He died on December 26, 1952 at the age of 75.

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Old 05-17-2017, 04:24 PM
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Great stuff!
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Old 05-17-2017, 04:36 PM
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pete ullman
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awesome read! thx for posting!
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Old 05-17-2017, 05:19 PM
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Thanks David...this certainly spells out how kids could work all the angles to gather up cards that were issued with tobacco products. Too bad Burdick couldn't have stapled another sheet so that the missing information could now be residing in our greedy little minds.

Brian
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Old 05-17-2017, 10:48 PM
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Joe Gonsowski
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Thank you David, I always enjoy the early references and these are new to me. I particularly like Sturtevant's memories of collecting during the 1880s at various locations with various in-roads to the goods.
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Joe Gonsowski
Collector of 19th century Detroit memorabilia and cards with emphasis on Goodwin & Co. issues (N172/N173/N175) and Tomlinson cabinets
Also collect N333 SF Hess Newsboys (all teams, Detroit in particular)

Latest Interest: Pre ATC Merger (1886-1890) cigarette packs and redemption coupons from all manufacturers
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Old 05-17-2017, 10:58 PM
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David McDonald
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"My joy knew no bounds." Just imagine getting pack fresh cards in 1888. I'd be joyful too. Great read, David.
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Old 05-18-2017, 12:23 AM
NiceDocter NiceDocter is offline
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Even in the 19th Century cards were getting destroyed by accident ...... and it sounds like the guy never really got over it. Kind of like the old "my mom threw out my baseball cards" story........sigh.......
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