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I've Acquired the ENTIRE 1919-21 W514 Set! Ruth, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Black Sox, & Customs!

mouschi

Featured Contributor, Bridging the Gap, Senior Mem
May 18, 2012
3,063
The 1919-21 W514 issue is a set of cards that has always intrigued me. There are a number of key cards, and fantastic stories! Being that the set is now 100+ years old, it also feels like history.

Created right after World War 1, the simplistic artwork and low quality card stock serve as reminders of America dealing with the aftermath of WW1.

Due to their meteoric rise in price recently, I sold my W514 Shoeless Joe Jackson and Babe Ruth. The money was great, but I was sad to see them go. I caught wind of an auction house selling an entire set recently, and thanks to being privy to a number of private sales on these cards, and lack of big public sales, I was able to grab these cards at a fantastic price...

I now have the entire 1919-21 W514 complete 120 card set!

While I plan to mainly sell/trade much of it away, I wanted to walk through them a bit, tell some stories, and show some fun customs.

First, here is the entire set. Gosh, I love the colors!

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Rarity

The PSA POP report shows the T206 set having over 250,000 submissions. The W514 is sitting at just over 1% of that with a bit over 3,100 total having been graded. Being that they were hand cut from strips at candy stores, about 40% of all W514s have been graded by PSA as "Authentic" as opposed to a numerical grade. This is most likely due to the fact that many won't meet the minimum size requirement for a numerical grade. It is one of the very few sets that I personally don't mind being graded as authentic.

While there are a ton of hall of famers in this set, the two standouts are Babe Ruth and Shoeless Joe Jackson. PSA shows just 62 having been graded for Ruth (37 of those as "authentic") and Shoeless Joe having 68 graded (46 as "authentic".)

The standouts here: playing career cards of the all-time best player in history, the former best player in history, (arguably) the best pitcher in history, and finally, the guy who the best players in history looked up to, and modeled. It is a true who's who of baseball history!

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I've written about the Babe before, but as a recap, here is what makes this one so special. I like to call it the Curse of the Bambino card. It features him as a member of the Red Sox, yet shows him as a member of the Yankees. The bright yellow coloring is beautiful, and is really the driving factor for me to pick up the set! I really missed it. I have been fortunate enough to have owned three of these over the past few years, but this one presents the nicest.

A deep dive into the set showed me that these simplistic drawings aren't just freehanded by someone from a century ago. Many (all?) were actually modeled after photographs by the famous Charles Conlon! The Babe Ruth below proves the artwork was modeled after a Red Sox photo. This leads me to believe that the artwork may have been created before he was sold to the Yankees, while the card itself was produced after he was sold - it may even be his first Yankees card ever!

Nearly 10 years ago, Sports Collectors Daily identified this card as a potential breakout for being a solid investment. It took a bit longer than people may have expected, but I've seen some recent sales eclipse some of his Goudey cards.

ruthprogression.jpg


Here are some more Conlon photographs I decided to progressively superimpose with the W514s. Here is Ty Cobb ...

w514cobbprogression.jpg


...and Christy Mathewson. Mathewson served in World War 1 alongside Ty Cobb. Mathewson was accidentally gassed during a chemical training exercise, and developed tuberculosis, which ended up killing him years later.

mattyprogression.jpg


One of the more intriguing cards is the Shoeless Joe Jackson (more as to why later!) I consider this his definitive Black Sox card.
shoelessprog.jpg


All of the photos above were taken by Charles Conlon, so as someone on Net54 said, there seems to be some sort of a connection between the W514 set and Conlon. Gahh, I have so much more to research ... I LOVE this stuff!

Here are the Babe and Shoeless Joe sitting atop some other W514 cards. Take a *CLOSE* look.

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See anything odd in the background? You might want to take a closer look this pic (I photoshopped the pic at the very top to hide some extra cards). Look at some cards in the middle and bottom carefully.

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Give up? Here is an up close of one of the sheets!

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I couldn't for the life of me shake how much the artwork reminded me of King of the Hill! I couldn't help it but make a card of the 4 guys in the style of a W514. Here is a "strip" of them - just as the original W514s were produced over a century ago ... ready to be cut from the strip at your local candy store!

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And here they are as single cards ...

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I had a blast creating these, but I wasn't done yet!

One of the more notable things about the W514 set is that it features 7 of the 8 Black Sox (Eight Men Out) players. Shoeless Joe Jackson, Swede Risberg, Chick Gandil, Lefty Williams, Ed Cicotte, Happy Felsch, and Buck Weaver. This makes it *the* set for Black Sox collectors. So many have mourned the fact that the W514 set didn't include Fred McMullin. He never had a W514 ... until now.

Look at the sheet I showed you earlier. The King of the Hill guys weren't the only customs on the sheet.

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I searched for a Charles Conlon photo of him, and found one! From there, I used what I learned in reverse engineering the other cards in the set, and drew my own W514 style McMullin - complete with blush and red lips!

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A close up of the artwork that I drew:

mcmullin.jpg


and here it is as a "real" card. To be more authentic, I printed the cut marks, and used scissors, just like kids would do a century ago.

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Some super rare W514s show up online with advertisements on the back. Because of this, I decided to make an advertisement for my custom McMullin:

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With the McMullin created, I'm happy to present to you the complete the ultimate Black Sox set!

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I could probably write a book about this set if I continued to dive in even more, and while it may not stick around here for long (I'm still debating on what to sell/trade/etc - my wife actually thinks I should keep it for a while!) I'm happy to have this for now. The mysteries and history associated with these cards make them all that much more appealing!

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mouschi

Featured Contributor, Bridging the Gap, Senior Mem
May 18, 2012
3,063
That is a nice set. I would like to get back into vintage. Nice job on the McMullin...the missing link.
Thanks! Vintage is so much fun - and a wildly different animal from modern!
 

Shaggy

Active member
Staff member
Administrator
Nov 6, 2019
270
Arizona
Thanks! Vintage is so much fun - and a wildly different animal from modern!

I haven't owned a 1900 - 1920 card yet and would love to sometime. Love your set. You said you will sell them indiviually one day, but what is the cost of one these nowadays?
 

mouschi

Featured Contributor, Bridging the Gap, Senior Mem
May 18, 2012
3,063
I haven't owned a 1900 - 1920 card yet and would love to sometime. Love your set. You said you will sell them indiviually one day, but what is the cost of one these nowadays?
Oh man, I'd definitely recommend getting some oldies! For the W514s shown above, commons seem to have an entry point at about $20-30. Another thing to look at would be the 19th century cards - they are quite a bit more pricey, but there is just something about those that seems almost magical to have in your hands.
 

Shaggy

Active member
Staff member
Administrator
Nov 6, 2019
270
Arizona
Oh man, I'd definitely recommend getting some oldies! For the W514s shown above, commons seem to have an entry point at about $20-30. Another thing to look at would be the 19th century cards - they are quite a bit more pricey, but there is just something about those that seems almost magical to have in your hands.

They all look great in a graded slab. I do like the idea of own the commons cards, but me, I want the big players. :)
 

mouschi

Featured Contributor, Bridging the Gap, Senior Mem
May 18, 2012
3,063
They all look great in a graded slab. I do like the idea of own the commons cards, but me, I want the big players. :)
100% - I hear that! When I first dipped my toe into the vintage pool a year or two ago, I picked up some commons that looked cool. Eventually I moved them, and got the bigger guys - it is one thing to have a Cactus Cravath - a 100 year old card of anyone is an incredible conversation piece - but having a Ty Cobb is def. another level!
 

Shaggy

Active member
Staff member
Administrator
Nov 6, 2019
270
Arizona
I'm am really into vintage as I have several goudys, and other 30's - 50's cards. I just need to start looking for those t206 type cards raw as I love taking them and getting them graded(have done that with several goudys). Its like saving them in a time capsle as they went this long without the full protection it deserves and now they are fully protected in a slab.
 

mouschi

Featured Contributor, Bridging the Gap, Senior Mem
May 18, 2012
3,063
I'm am really into vintage as I have several goudys, and other 30's - 50's cards. I just need to start looking for those t206 type cards raw as I love taking them and getting them graded(have done that with several goudys). Its like saving them in a time capsle as they went this long without the full protection it deserves and now they are fully protected in a slab.
The T206 guys are a different breed, for sure. I know a lot of set collectors who will crack them out of the slabs so they can have them in their T206 binders.

Goudeys though ... PHEWWW those are beautiful cards. I just picked up a 1933 World Wide Gum Babe Ruth at the tail end of last year. It is an EXTREMELY underappreciated set with a significantly lower POP than the American Goudey - they are considered the "Canadian Goudey" - same cards basically, with french writing on the back, though the checklist is a bit different. My Ruth is the full body version (#144 in Goudey) and looks like a 7, though it is graded by SGC as a 3.5.
 

Shaggy

Active member
Staff member
Administrator
Nov 6, 2019
270
Arizona
Pics of the Babe Ruth! We need pics if you haven't posted any yet.

Where are you picking these up mostly, ebay, direct sales?
 

mouschi

Featured Contributor, Bridging the Gap, Senior Mem
May 18, 2012
3,063
Pics of the Babe Ruth! We need pics if you haven't posted any yet.

Where are you picking these up mostly, ebay, direct sales?
Here it is! A few more details below, as well ...

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I wrote the seller saying I wouldn't be able to pull the trigger, but the site went down. During that time, I had a change of heart and said DEAL!

This artwork, too, was based off of a Conlon photograph ...

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This speaks to its scarcity:

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Link to the article here: https://tanmanbaseballfan.com/1933-world-wide-gum-babe-ruth
 
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