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Old 11-26-2008, 06:27 PM
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Default Earliest Baseball card set

Posted By: JimB

The talk over in the KBats thread brings up a question for me that I have been e-mailing about with a friend this week. What do you all consider to be the first real baseball card set? Of course there will probably be a variety of opinions and more questions about what constitutes a "card" or a "set".

If the Kbats NY cards are a set unto themselves and they can be dated to 1886 (sounds possible, but not at all certain), then they may be in the running with the N167 Old Judges (1886). Thoughts?
JimB

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Old 11-27-2008, 05:07 AM
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Default Earliest Baseball card set

Posted By: Phil Garry

I remember there being a group of about 10 CDV's, all picturing teammates from the early 1870's including George Wright. It was either Cincinnati or Boston. Is this a set?

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Old 11-27-2008, 08:44 AM
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Default Earliest Baseball card set

Posted By: JimB

And are CDVs cards?
JimB

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Old 11-27-2008, 09:12 AM
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Default Earliest Baseball card set

Posted By: barrysloate

Phil- I sold that group of CdV's, although technically they were CdV "proofs" and not quite the finished product. They pictured 11 members of the 1871 Boston Red Stockings.

CdV's are forms of cards, but not in the traditional sense of Old Judges or Allen & Ginters. Fifteen years ago they would not have been considered such, but as the market evolved, and the grading companies began slabbing them, most collectors now consider them cards (the word "carte" is part of CdV).

However, if we do include them, then Peck & Snyders are fair game too. They were issued roughly between 1867 and 1870, so they are arguably the first card set.

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Old 11-27-2008, 09:25 AM
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Default Earliest Baseball card set

Posted By: john/z28jd

The Welton Cigars(H812) set is probably from 1886 but includes 8 players who were all with the Giants from some point early in 1885 up until the time Dude Esterbrook(discussed in the other thread) left. So it could be the earliest set of actual cards. Its at the very least comparable in time with the N167 set.

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Old 11-27-2008, 09:27 AM
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Default Earliest Baseball card set

Posted By: CoreyRSh.anus

Those cdv's Phil refers to were the components of a composite mammoth-plate photograph of an early 1870's (1872?) Boston National Association team. That photo almost certainly was the proof used to make a cdv of that team (by taking a photo of that mammoth plate). As such I really wouldn't call them a set in the sense that they were arguably unique cdv's made for a purpose other than distribution.



The earliest card set (issued over several years) in my view would be the Peck & Snyders, which were trade cards. At present there are six known, five team (1868 Lowells, 1868 Atlantics, 1869 Red Stockings, 1870 Athletics, 1870 Mutuals and 1870 White Stockings) and one player (c. mid-1860's Jim Creighton). These cards I think would be characterized as baseball cards by most collectors, and as such are arguably the earliest known set.



One other "set" that bears mentioning would be a recent find of the 1860's Haymakers (I forget the precise year but it was around 1867). Those cards all depict palyers from one team so in that sense they are part of a (team) set. But characterizing them as an early baseball card set then raises the question of how these cdvs were distributed. Were they distributed in such a way so to make them available to the general public and as such make them eligible to be characterized as baseball cards?


EDITED final time to restore my name to the post, which for some reason had been changed to anonymous by the previous edit.

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Old 11-27-2008, 10:09 AM
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Default Earliest Baseball card set

Posted By: barrysloate

Corey's last point touched on something that I would like to elaborate on, and I believe he and I are on the same page with this one. In short, I think we could make the argument that Peck & Snyders are baseball cards, and CdV's are not.

There is no question that the photographic Peck & Snyder cards were a point of purchase item at the famous sporting goods store. My understanding is you could walk in and either purchase one of the cards, or if you were a good customer making a large order you could get one or more for free. So even though they were only distributed in lower Manhattan, the general public certainly had access to them.

I do not believe the same could be said for CdV's. How would a baseball fan even be able to acquire a CdV of his favorite player or team? I don't believe he could, unless he had direct access to the photography studio, or knew somebody on the team. It is rather likely that only team members and officials were given CdV's of the players, thus they would not qualify as baseball cards.

There is one exception, as there are a number of 1869 Cincinnati Reds CdV's known with period advertising on the reverse. One I recall advertised Henry Chadwick's book The Game of Baseball, and I believe there is a second. Any CdV with product advertising on the reverse was surely distributed to the public. Those six Haymaker CdV's, which have actually been dated 1866, would not in my opinion qualify as baseball cards in the strictest sense since they likely had very limited and private distribution. However, some would argue they are baseball cards and certainly they would have a valid point.

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