Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Victorian Trade Card Set - 1878 Forbes Co. Series of 6 Base Ball Comic Cards

It recently occurred to me that I hadn't posted anything about one of my favorite collecting subjects in almost a year.

Other than Dodgers memorabilia, I am a passionate collector of 19th Century Base Ball themed Victorian Trade Cards.  Go here to see my previous post on this collecting genre, and here for a little history about what these cards are.

The below cards are commonly known by the American Card Catalog (ACC) number #H804-6 and are called the Forbes Co. Series.  A complete set consist of 6 cards, measure 3" x 4 11/16", and are blank backed.  Also, at the very bottom are the printed notations "Forbes Co. Boston" and "Copyright 1878".

As you can see, a clothing company is the advertiser on the below cards.  Typically, these cards were sold blank to a retail establishment, and they would stamp their name on the front.

I love the artwork and outlandish drawings of the Base Ball players on these cards.  You just can't help but snicker when looking at them.

In my experience, these are fairly common; as Base Ball trade cards go, and can be purchased for about $20 to $50 a piece in today's market. 

These 6 cards in this first grouping have red colored letters.  As you read further below, I make note that there are another two variations of the set available.  The previous guide on Base Ball trade cards, called the Keetz guide, does not make note of these other variations.

Before I tell you about those two other set variations, I wanted to point out a notation found on the reverse of one of the cards in my collection.  Check it out below.

It provides information about the original cost of these cards.  As you can see, they were sold by Union Card Company for $0.45 per 100 cards, or $3.75 per 1,000 cards.  Of special note is that the seller is Union Card Company of Montepelier, Vermont.

That little bit of information at the end appears to run counter to what was commonly understood about the set.  Forbes Co., a well known trade card publisher, is linked as the manufacturer of these cards since their name is indicated on the front.  The card I have, on the other hand, appears to indicate that Union Card Co. also produced the cards.

So, what gives?

I wish I knew, but it does add a little bit of mystery.

As indicated previously, there are two other variations to this set.  Check them out below.

The following 6 cards all feature black lettering at the top. 

These next 6 cards feature no lettering at all.

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