View Full Version : Hobby history: 1945 Sporting News article on baseball card collecting

04-24-2017, 11:10 PM
In the middle decades of the 20th century, baseball card collecting (by adults) was very much a niche activity, mostly unknown by the general public. Occasionally, though, an article about card collecting would appear in newspapers or other general-interest publications. A couple of years ago, I posted Arthur H. Folwell's article from the May 4, 1929 New Yorker, with his memories of collecting cigarette cards as a kid in the 1880s, including quite a bit of detail about Old Judges and other baseball cards from the era. (That post is here: http://net54baseball.com/showthread.php?t=202129.) Jefferson Burdick wrote a series of articles about card collecting, including baseball cards, in Hobbies magazine in the mid-1930s. (Those articles were posted by Leon on this board, here: http://www.net54baseball.com/showthread.php?t=146010, and are also on the Old Cardboard site, here: http://www.oldcardboard.com/ref/history/bbc-pubs/hob/burdick-hobbies-articles.pdf.) The December 1945 issue of Esquire magazine had an article about "The Era of the Cigarette Card" that included three pages of color illustrations, including a T206 Matty black cap; I posted about it here: http://net54baseball.com/showthread.php?t=219020.

I've seen references to a few newspaper articles about card collecting in the 1940s, but the only one I actually have a copy of is the one that's the subject of this post. It appeared in the January 11, 1945 issue of The Sporting News, and it was written by Wirt Gammon, a sporswriter who was a major collector of baseball cards (mainly T and N cards), and who wrote prolifically for hobby publications from the 1940s into the early 1980s. In fact, I believe this is the first article about baseball cards that Gammon wrote for a national publication; later in 1945, he began writing a semi-regular column for The Sports Exchange Trading Post about collecting baseball items, mostly things other than cards, and a decade later he began writing regularly for Sport Fan. (I included one of Gammon's columns announcing the issuance of 1948 Bowman baseball cards in this post: http://net54baseball.com/showthread.php?t=223647.)

This article has a nice illustration of T206s and one T205 (presumably from Gammon's collection), along with a history of the cards, as Gammon understood it in 1945. I've posted the entire page below, followed by just the illustration and just the text of the article, so they're easier to read.


04-25-2017, 02:36 AM
Two thumbs up!! Love this stuff - thanks for sharing and organizing the links in one easy to get to post!

04-25-2017, 11:28 AM
It is enviable to have been a middle-age reader in 1945 with the likes of Cobb and Matty in living memory. The game of the 1910s might have seemed ancient - deadball in wooden ballparks in a time when buggies outnumbered cars compared to the hustle-and-bustle of the forties, but if we today go back thirty years it seems we just get Will Clark and Dale Murphy and a lot of the same old, same old - maybe the jumbotrons are more jumbo and the PEDs a little less so but the nostalgia ain't as good as it used to be. Great article.