Decks by the Decade - 1920's
The 1920's in baseball card collecting saw the torch pass from the tobacco cards that were the foundation of the hobby, to a different style of cards.
1922 Fans Cigarette (T231): This mystery set of late tobacco cards popped up back in 1984 at an antiques show in the Midwest. There's not much known about this set in that it was such a short print run. There are reports of anywhere between a checklist of 84 cards to 231 cards. Only two cards have been reported: Frank Baker and Carson Bigbee. Much like every tobacco card, the front features a picture of the player, while the backs have the statistics. Given the rarity of this set, it's incredibly hard to put a value on these cards. I looked through a bunch of resources to see if I could nail down a sold listing, but none were found.
1922 American Caramel E120: While tobacco cards were on their way out, candy cards cemented their spot in the hobby. This was a 240 card set, with a distinctive feature between the AL and NL cards. The AL would feature a sepia colored card while the NL would feature a greenish-blue color. The cards were made out of very thin paper stock just like most of the cards from this era, so finding a card in great condition is very difficult. The E120 set features all of the All-Stars from the decade like Tris Speaker, Ty Cobb, and Walter Johnson. Babe Ruth, unsurprisingly, is the tops in this set with an estimated PSA9 value of at least $80,000.
1922 American Caramel E121: Released later in the year, the E121 set features only 120 cards, but featured many variations and misspellings throughout. Whether it was intentional or not, it created a fun game for consumers of the candy to look for these different cards. Much like in the E120, the Babe Ruth cards in this set are the ones to go after. There were three different cards: Holding a bird (PSA9 est $50,000). holding a baseball ($75,000), and the photo montage variation ($80,000).
Strip Cards (W512-W516): Strip cards received their names because they were cheaply printed baseball cards that were delivered in sheets to stores. The employees would then tear away a strip of the sheet which was a card of that player. Typically, these were inexpensively made. For example, a lot of the players in these sets were crudely painted on to these cards. It was a cheap way for shop owners to get into the baseball card game. The first set, W512, was a 60 card multi-sport set. A strip featuring Babe Ruth and Rogers Hornsby sold for $500 a couple of years ago.
Exhibits: I'm not talking about thew Pimp My Ride star Xzibit, I'm talking about the 1921 debut of the Exhibit set. These cards were founded out of Chicago by the Exhibit Supply Company. You could get these cards out of a vending machine and were the size of a postcard. The back of these cards were blank, and did not have a number to them. Early versions of the card featured greats like Babe Ruth, Tris Speaker, and Ty Cobb. The pinnacle of the Exhibit set was the 1925 Henry L. Gehrig card.
More known as Lou Gehrig, the Yankees signed him right out of Columbia college after smacking 24 homers in 59 games. He received the nickname "Iron Horse" after starting every game from June 2nd, 1925 until May 2nd, 1939 (2,130 games!) when he took himself out of the lineup due to complications of ALS. Gehrig finished his career with 493 homers, 1,995 RBI's, .447 OBP, and a career OPS+ of 179. He led the league numerous times in almost every statistical category that existed at the time from hits, homers, doubles, to walks and runs.
His 1925 Exhibit card is considered his rookie card where a PSA6 estimates at $125,000.