View Full Version : The American Premium Guide to Baseball Cards

03-05-2015, 10:47 PM
Do any of the hobby old-timers out there remember this? It was kind of a predecessor to the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, but it came out in 1981, seven years before the first Standard Catalog and two years after the first annual Beckett guide. I was 15 years old at the time, near the peak of that first stage of my card collecting career (before a hiatus in high school and college), and I was so excited to get this book for Christmas that I could hardly stand it. My brother had gotten the first annual Sport Americana (Beckett/Eckes) price guide two years earlier, which was a big deal, but this had a lot more sets, with checklists, information, and prices for each one. I was already a budding type collector, so I loved all that. The second half had an alphabetical list of each player, with a list of each card of him, and buy/sell prices for each of those cards in G-VG and Ex-MT condition.

One of the things I loved most about this book was its 20-page section on Old Judges, including many illustrations and checklists for each team and various subsets (Hall of Famers, spotted ties, two-player cards). I had bought my first Old Judge earlier that year, and I just loved reading about those old cards even though I couldn't afford more than the one. That section was written by Keith Mitchell, pictured on the back cover below, who was apparently a pioneer of Old Judge collecting. (I discovered via Google that he died in 2006.) The information in it is relatively primitive compared to what's in the Miller-Gonsowski-Masson book, but I'm pretty sure that it was much more than had ever been published in one place about Old Judges before. In the checklist, I marked my one Old Judge at the time (Stemmeyer) and the price I had paid for it ($10). Mitchell listed the price range for Old Judge commons as $15-$22.50, Hall of Famers $50-$70, Gypsy Queen commons $50-$80, Gypsy Queen HOFers $75-$100.

The main author of this book, Ron Erbe, was a card dealer in Iowa who had been profiled in a UPI news story that apparently resulted in people from all over the world contacting him wanting to sell their cards. This was the only edition of the book, though Erbe also came out the same year with a "Pocket Guide to Baseball Cards" that only covered 1960-81. When I googled him before writing this post, I discovered that he just died in December. RIP.


03-06-2015, 12:01 AM
Yes! I remember buying this book and being thrilled to read about Old Judge cards that seemed so ancient to my 13-year old perspective that I could hardly believe cards that old could still survive. Like you said, so little had been published at the time books like this certainly thrilled a generation of vintage fans. I remember this book inspiring me to look into Old Judge cards. Yep, I am an old-timer. Been called worse... :o

03-06-2015, 12:12 AM
Just checked my library and I still have the book. Great info for the time.

Joe Old Judge Collector

03-06-2015, 12:14 AM
Still have my copy, and refer to it every once in awhile. It was a great resource, with more pulpish paper that was easier to write on when tracking your collection. RIP Mr. Erbe.

03-06-2015, 01:16 AM
Keith Mitchell took me under his wing when I started collecting Old Judges. He was a wonderful person and a very knowledgeable collector. I'm sorry he never lived to see our book. Much of what is in there is knowledge that was shared freely by him.

03-06-2015, 10:32 AM
Jay -- Keith sounds like a great guy. I wish I could have met him.

03-06-2015, 12:26 PM
I still have my copy; I bought it just after I bought the 3rd Beckett guide when re-rentering and was impressed at how much more Erbe had on some sets than the Sport Americana guide did. I had heard he passed last year; I may have seen an obit on Sports Colelctors Daily.