My PC Vintage NON-sport cards subject pictorial and history series.


From a pack deep in the north country...
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An introduction:

First a little background about me and why I collect. I have been a die-hard baseball card collector for over 30 years. My favorite players are Rickey Henderson and Sean Casey. As affordable, in my range, cards of these two players became less and less available (see my statistics in my signature) I wanted to put my passion and energy into another subject that would yield more new cards in my mailbox on a regular basis. I am also part wolf. No seriously, I have always claimed this LONG before it was "cool" to say so. Tattoos and legit spirit animal aside, I figured that there must be a way to connect my hobby and wolves.

I knew of non-sport animal cards but I did not know much, nor was there a great deal of information available beyond a very limited number of popular sets. Many in this hobby are familiar with the "holy grail" of cards, the T206 Honus Wagner. As monumental as that card is though, many less collectors know less about "tobacco" cards in general.

In the mid to late 1800's, arguably around the same time baseball was invented, smoking and the tobacco industry were big business. I did not care to research statistics on quantity sold or money made, but it must have seemed like there were as many cigarette companies as there were baseball card brands in 2005. You have have heard of names like Piedmont, Polar Bear and Old Mill, and even Phillip-Morris got their start in this era.

During this time, a pack of cigarettes were packed in nothing more than tissue paper. Manufactures inserted a cardboard, or at least thicker stock paper in the packs to hold them together and in shape. Advertisements were placed on the thicker card stock, then eventually pictures and presto, a tobacco card.

A "tobacco" card is a bit of a misnomer though. Much like when people say they go roller blading, but in fact do not own a pair or brand name Rollerblades. Cards with pictures and advertisements were quite often packed with coffee, tea, of course gum and candy, and even baking soda (as you will see in later posts) just as often as they were in packs of cigarettes.

A quick search on eBay will enlighten you as to the sheer number of different subjects depicted on vintage non-sport cards. of course there were sports figures, and anything and everything from birds, butterflies, fish, planes, trains, boats, foreign castles, flags of countries, actors, military medals, animals, flowers and the list goes on and on. As I went further down the rabbit hole of animal card sets looking for wolves, the sets became increasing more specialized to include wild animals, zoo animals, farm animals, specifically four legged mammals, and predators. A couple of different manufactures stated their product contained an educational piece. They wanted to depict zoo and foreign animals so their customers who live in big cities could read and learn about animals that they might not ever get to see in real life.

I learned some other interesting things about card manufacturing from this era. As many of the sets were regional or at least the manufacturer did not plan on their customers switching brands, companies would sell the images of both the card fronts and backs to a competitor as soon as two years after they were originally used. Only small changes had to be made to the cards like changing logos and the brand/company name. As cards inserted into products was gaining in popularity and everyone wanted to jump on the band wagon quickly. It was often quicker and cheaper to buy images from a competitor then commission an artist to create a whole new set. We will see multiple examples of cards that are virtually identical save for some minor details in later posts. Another interesting detail is that a lot of the early NON-sport card sets were produced overseas including countries all over Europe, Australia, and even Canada. At least early on, a lot of the bigger sports themed sets were made in the USA. This actually makes sense. In 1910 how often would people from England, let alone America, see German Castles? Or a farmhand, who never would go to a zoo in a big city, see lions and elephants? A common theme that will appear here in several cards, and is the subject material for several sets period, are Aesop's fables. This is probably partly due to the fact that not much was known about wolves then and they were seen as mean or evil that lessons and human characteristics could be learned form all animals.

This led me to decide what I would collect for my wolf card collection. I decided to collect cards that were numbered or listed as part of a set, (no postcards or lithographs) had to have at least part of the card identifying text in English, (a requirement to be graded by PSA) and be strictly about or depict wolves. I did not include cards about the Shepard boy who cried wolf. I actually have wolf cards up to and including 2015 issues. For purposes of this series, I consider (and will only post) "vintage" cards to be up to WWII, 1945.

I will start off the pictorial with a couple of my first wolf cards, before I narrowed down my collecting scope.

I do not know much about the card on the left other than it is was issued around 1890. It is roughly 3X5 and I think depicts the fable of the fox and stork. It was probably issued with either coffee, flour, or some other dry good. I thought it was a wolf and did not know this fable when I purchased this item. A blank back with only the copyright information in small script on the bottom left corner The copyright says 1887, but my research led me to believe this was not issued until three years later. Obvious glue staining on the back.
The post card is from 1912 and is quite literally a post card. I am not a stamp collector, but was told that the cancelled $.01 stamp is probably worth more than the wolf post card itself. The identification indicated that this wolf was in the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. I am impressed with the sharpness of the picture taken for the post card. The detail of the individual straw and around the wolf's eyes is really good for being over 100 years old!

I will update this thread series 2-3 times a week staring with the oldest card I own dating form 1887!

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Not only is the 1887 card the oldest I own, this happens to be an example of a vintage card that is NOT a tobacco card and is also an example of where the image was sold to a competitor and "re-issued" (in this example) 11 years later.

Both of these cards were distributed in packages of baking soda. The "Arm & Hammer" was distributed nationally. Keep in mind however, that there were only 33 states in the union in 1887! The Dwight's soda was more of a regional distribution focused in the northeast. There were several different 'series' of cards produced by Arm & Hammer and "re-issued" in later years under a different brand. Subjects include birds (including separate series for song birds, useful birds of America and birds of Prey) Fishes, interesting animals and Mother Goose stories. There are SEVERAL different variations of individual cards across all of the series. This is partly due to the fact that there were different locations the cards (even in the same set and year) were printed. Many of the variations are specific words and phrases in the text. The card backs all have the brand name of the specific soda highlighted and all claim that theirs is the best. The font of the brand names on the card backs is bigger and bold. Almost like they were indicating where to swap out a different brand name. Other common text variations on the card backs include "cost of postage" vs "Cost of postage and packaging," and "three (or printed 3) 2-cent stamps," vs "six (or printed 6) 2-cent stamps."

The 1887 "Arm & Hammer" card obviously has a big crease across the middle and tape across the back. The brand logos are different in the upper right corner of the card fronts and the branding text is different on the backs. I find it interesting that 2/3 of the card back is dedicated to the branding and promotion of the soda and only 1/3 speaks the the subject pictured.

This is a very good site that I helped contribute some information to. This site is VERY through on the text variations.

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That's really neat. I haven't seen cards before where the rights to the image used was later sold and then reissued by a different company. That's really interesting.

Some interesting points about this pair of cards. The first card is an example of a traditional "tobacco" card. This is also the largest span I have between when the image was reproduced, 22 years.

The A&G card is from one of the relatively few, popular non-sport card sets of the era. This is in part due to the brand popularity and because it was so widely produced. Original pre-1900 A&G cards are regularly available on eBay. Condition pending of course, some non-sport subjects can be kind of pricey. Several copies of the N25 card have been graded as there are a handful of collectors completing the set. This again speaks to the popularity of the cards.

The Philadelphia Caramel card is far more scare, but not necessarily more valuable. It was released as a VERY regional issue and a much smaller production run, packaged with caramels, in and around the Philadelphia zoo. There is obvious paper loss on the back of my issue. This is from being mounted and then removed from a binder. This set can be considered condition sensitive though as many cards were stained and even ruined as they were packaged actually touching the candy. Try peeling a thin card away form a sticky candy in the summer heat with both the candy being edible (no torn off paper bits) and the card remaining in decent condition. Note the color is brighter on the A&G despite being 22 years older.

Major differences on the card backs include logo changes, font, print size and card numbering in the case of the Caramel card.


This pair has basically the same information as the pair above. Again A&G sold the rights to the images to the Philadelphia Caramel company, only this time 21 years later. All of the rest of the information is basically the same. The national vs. regional distribution, the popularity of the A&G set as collectors are grading several cards though PSA to compile the set. Again, just like above, I have the only known graded copy of the Philadelphia Caramel Zoo card. Even the condition problems are the same as noted above.

While the fronts are again identical, major differences appear on the card backs. In addition to font type and size differences, the A&G has more intricate logo and branding. This makes the zoo card back look almost plain to me. In a further attempt to differentiate the cards form the A&G issue, the zoo cards switch around the order of the order of the cards (at least the checklist) the A&G is alphabetical starting with Antelope and Armadillo while the zoo card starts with Leopard and Black Bear. All of the subjects and set size are the same though, just listed in a different order on the zoo card. There is obvious paper loss on the back of my A&G issue.

OK, so photobucket ticked me off. I made the switch to imgur.


In addition to the A&G cards, this is another pretty popular true tobacco card. There are several N216 cards graded by PSA. Completed auctions in the past couple years also attest to the sets popularity. A "near complete" set of 23/25 cards sold for $240, a complete ungraded set sold for over $500, and a complete 25 card set graded by SGC sold of over $830!

The sets popularity comes in part from the small set size, (easy to collect and complete), the detail of the pictures and the use of color. This is one of the first sets to have full color card fronts.

Similar to other cards of the era, the back simply contains the list of card subjects, (cards were not numbered) and basic branding of the cigarettes they were packaged in. Except for just a couple of examples, one is pictured above, information and details about the subjects pictured really did not appear on card backs for another 20 years!

While there is no paper loss from being mounted and removed from a binder with my wolf card, the biggest reason why my card was graded a 3 is all four corners are soft and rounded.

Link to the set registry on PSA


I like those...very cool!

Since a complete set of 25 sold for $800+ and a near complete 23/25 sold for $20...are there a couple really short printed cards?

Also, I'm a big fan of imgur. I got rid of photobucket a long time before they screwed everybody over. Their site was too buggy.
I am not aware of any short prints per se. There are a couple of animals that are being hoarded by a few collectors though. The camel is one I know of that seems to never come up on auctions and if it does tends to go for a more than the average card form the set.
I am not aware of any short prints per se. There are a couple of animals that are being hoarded by a few collectors though. The camel is one I know of that seems to never come up on auctions and if it does tends to go for a more than the average card form the set.
Are those animals being hoarded because they are more popular to collection...or is someone trying to corner the market?

As strange as it sounds, I have seen that before. One of my all-time favorite sets is the 1996 LaserView Inscriptions football autos...I think it was the first card on plastic stock. Several years ago, somebody started buying up all the Erik Kramer cards and now they are really hard to find. Some people a lot of money for them because some jerk hoarded them all. Probably going to flood the market with them at some point.
Are those animals being hoarded because they are more popular to collection...or is someone trying to corner the market?

I think it is a combination of both. I have seen pictures of copies and have read that the Camel cards are some of the best artwork in the set. Because of the eye appeal of these cards over others in the set, more handling and movement of the camel cards has happened compared to others over the past 100 years. The more times a card is handled/moved/traded, condition becomes an issue. So high demand for a good looking card creates not a lot of high grade copies.
1910 E26 Dockman & Son Menagerie Gum - Wolf

The first gum wolf card in my collection brings us to another semi-popular card set. Totaling only 24 cards, the 1910 E26 Dockman & Son Menagerie Gum set has a few collectors chasing it. This also happens to be one of my more expensive vintage wolf cards. Even poor condition ungraded cards can sell for as high as $20. Characteristics that make this set popular in the small number of cards in the set (24), the foreign and exotic animals that had not been on a card yet and, and again bright and vibrant colors. Although these cards do have a white border, they have full color backgrounds. Distributed solely in in packs of the branded gum, cards were susceptible to staining. These cards also slightly thinner and on poorer quality stock then other cards from the era. Corners and edges seem to round and fray much easier then their contemporaries. Off-centering is also a huge problem for these gum cards. Of the 88 total cards graded by PSA, he highest rated cards only include 1 PSA 8 and 4 PSA 7s. Only very recently has a variation been discovered. It appears that a basically a whole parallel set was printed that is called a "no-advertisement back." The only difference being that the "Manufactured by..." line is not on the bottom of the card backs. It is unknown how many of these variations were produced. Although it is believed that they are somewhat scarcer then the regular backs. As was commonplace, the cards in this set are UN-numbered. This is one of my personal favorites of my wolf card collection despite it not being in the greatest condition or even a that good of a drawing of a wolf. I like the colors used and just like the card for what it is. I put it in my top 5 favorites of ALL my wolf cards, vintage and modern.

Link to PSA set registry.

Link to some eBay auctions, but you cant bid on the no ad back wolf! menagerie gum&rt=nc&_trksid=p2045573.m1684


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Now for something a little different and yet pretty special to me.

1910 Imperial Tobacco Company (ITC) Silk - National Animals and Flags - Siberia, Wolf

OK, so not a true "card," but silks were issued in packs of cigarettes, had lots of different sets with pictorial subjects to attract and hook collectors, and were a branded/marketing/PR ploy. Silk 'cards' were produced 1908 and 1912. Silk cards are all blank back so there is usually no copyright or printing date on them anywhere. Most collectors who collect silk cards usually identify them as 'circa 1910' or just straight 1910 issues. Both the American Tobacco Company (ATC) and International Tobacco Company (ITC) produced several sets during this time. These companies were kind of related and shared similar design and printing elements. Think how like a Lincoln Navigator and Mercury Mountaineer are both Ford and basically just swap logos and branding. A lot of silk cards were all a standard size of approximately 2.5"X3.5" but there are many different sized examples. Sometimes even the same set of subject just in a larger size. This is especially true for the flag sets. Set subjects include animals, birds, butterflies, fruits, flowers, state flags, national flags, world military medals and honors, world leaders and rulers, US presidents, sports figures, baseball players, actresses, Indian chiefs and even pin-up style girls in bathing suits. Zira cigarettes were identified on a few sets but this was still under the ITC umbrella. Just like Bowman is still a Topps brand. PSA does not grade silks because they are not really a card. I mean, how do you judge the corner sharpness of a piece of fabric? Despite this, silks remain relatively popular among pre-war tobacco card collectors, nostalgia buffs and vintage set collectors. The artwork and coloring, especially for being printed on fabric over 100 years ago, retain a lot of eye appeal. This is my #1 favorite "non-card" wolf card.

Link to another web site I helped collaborate on:

Examples of the popular World Military Medals set: ITC .TRS2&_nkw=1910 itc silk&_sacat=0


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Sorry for the scan quality. It is in a super thick one-touch case. I will dig it back out and take a better scan.