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1911 T3 Turkey Red Cabinet Cards

There was once a time when Boxing was almost as popular as an American spectator sport as Baseball was. Through the end of the Second World War, fight fans would anxiously either attend matches set in large stadiums or listen on the radio to hear if their hero was going to pull out another victory. There are plenty of stories of entire neighborhoods listening to each of Joe Louis' Heavyweight Championship bouts where he defensed his title.

So, way back in 1911 there is no doubt collectors were just as interested in the star boxers as they were in the leading baseball players of the day. Fighters such as the then recently deceased Stanley Ketchel, Jack Johnson and Sam Langford highlight the boxing part of this release. Of course, while any signed cards from this set have to be scarce, could you imagine if these were issued and Ketchel actually signed one of these cards. In fact, the PSA/DNA pop report shows all of two cards (one of which is Christy Mathewson who passed away in 1915) as being signed and certified as authentic. Over the collecting years, and even to the present day, there are cards which players may not have had an opportunity to sign or just frankly do not want to sign that modern card. The 1987 Topps Ricky Wright is a more modern example of a person not signing a card.

Of course, the baseball players have their own cards which probably do not exist in autograph form. Addie Joss, the fine Hall of Fame pitcher passed away in April, 1911 just a couple of days after turning 31, and considering his health for the last year of so of his life, there have to be very few Joss autographs available, and the odds are certainly against any Turkey Red cards being signed. And because of the large size of these cards, an authentic autograph would certainly look great as there is plenty of room for a player to sign their name on their picture.

There are several other interesting aspects of these cards, among them are the cards are interspersed in the middle of the baseball numbering and several of these cards featured the leading black fighters of the day. In a way, that in itself is quite daring for any company at that time, and although these cards are numbered with the baseball cards, the modern nomenclature calls these T9 cards while the baseball sets have the T3 designation.

And, yes the baseball cards were issued in two different series of 50 cards each (1-50, 77-126). All this makes one wonder if these beautiful cabinets were designed to feature other sports as well and constantly feature new athletes. These cabinets which measure 8" x 5.75" have a gorgeous color player photo on the front and either an "ad" or a "checklist" back. The idea of having a checklist back was another interesting twist as these enabled the collectors who mailed away the redemptions gleamed from Turkey Red, Fez and Old Mill cigarette packs received these in the mail. And unlike some issues of the day, every card promised on the checklist was actually issued. While never easy to find, at least a collector can try to know about his progress in completing this set.

We've discussed how these cards were issued in series. The first series of 50 cards features 18 players who would later be enshrined in Cooperstown while just seven players in the second series (which is slightly more difficult to obtain) are now in the Hall of Fame. Even with the second series having less future immortals, the total still means approximately 20 percent of the players in the baseball part of this set are now in the Hall of Fame.

And because of the large size of these cards, not many have survived in high grade condition. In fact, according to the PSA Pop Report, less than 350 of the total graded population are in PSA 6 (EX/MT) or better condition. In itself, those numbers tell you just how difficult these cards are to maintain in high condition. In fact, currently a collector can not complete a set in all PSA 6 or better. Again that tells you how hard these cards have been to maintain over the past 100 or so years!

There were also a few updates to this set, as players did move teams during the release of this set. Three players: Harry McIntyre, Dode Paskert and Fred Tenney have updated to their team notifications. Meanwhile Mickey Doolin comes in two spelling varieties. The first spelled his last name as "Doolan" while the corrected version spells his last name correctly, "Doolin". The cards feature player portraits with the player's name and team affiliation at the bottom.

We usually don't discuss reprint cards but to us, this is a rare opportunity to purchase a reprint set. The card size is very different. The reprint set was released in the modern standard size of 2.5" x 3.5", and all the players are featured. While having no real collector value, there is something to be said for showing these pieces of art and appreciating them for just how beautiful they are.

Of course, if you don't want to have a great example of early 20th century sports art, then the Turkey Red set in the original size is perfect for your collecting needs.

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