1914 vs. 1915 Crack Jack baseball card set

The Cracker Jack baseball cards are some of my favorite cards to collect.  They have many similarities, but what are some differences?  Which cards from the sets are most valuable?  What are the differences between the 2 sets?  Let’s investigate!

The Cracker Jack sets are almost 100 years old.  As is always the case, condition is extremely important in assigning a value for each card.  The odds of finding a MINT card from either set is extremely scarce.  In fact, the chance of finding any Cracker Jack baseball cards is extremely rare, which is why I love baseball card collecting.  It’s the thrill of the hunt that keeps me going. 


The 1914 set contains 144 baseball cards.  These cards were printed on much thinner paper than the 1915 counterpart.  A few of the 1914 baseball cards have different poses than the 1915 set.  These cards are craved by baseball card collectors like myself.  For example, the Christy Mathewson 1914 horizontal pitching version is not offered in the 1915 set.  Mathewson appears in the 1915 set as a portrait pose.


1914 Cracker Jack’s are usually found with staining on them.  The 1914 cards were ONLY distributed in boxes of Cracker Jack’s at the local five and dime store.  The 1915 cards were offered in the boxes of jacks, and through a mail in redemption program.


The 1915 Cracker Jack set has 176 baseball cards and is generally found in much better condition to the 1914 step-brother.  Many cards were obtained thru the mail in redemption program, so many cards are free of staining.  The cards were printed on a heavier stock paper (still very thin though) that could withstand a bit more abuse. 


Both the 1914 and 1915 cards have the bold red background.  Of all the candy cards, the Jack’s are the most visually stimulating.  Some of the most valuable cards are:  Christy Mathewson, Ty Cobb, Joe Jackson, and Walter Johnson.  Check your attic to see if you have any Cracker Jacks!!




Fan Mail Part 2- Obtaining baseball autographs!

I recently received a question about obtaining autographs during the regular season.

This person wanted to know if it would be just as easy to obtain them as it was during spring training.

The answer to the question is………(drum roll please) Autographs during the regular season are harder to obtain.  Don’t be discouraged because they are still fairly easy to obtain

Spring training is fun for everybody and very relaxed.  The guys are getting used to getting back in the daily routine of playing baseball and they are getting used to the new guys in the clubhouse.  The ballplayers are signing autographs in hoards and enjoy doing it.  They might even smile while doing it.

By the time May comes around, baseball is in full swing.  The weather gets nicer across the country and you have those blabbermouths on ESPN talking about who will win the World Series even though it is only May.  By this time, each baseball player has signed thousands of autographs for the year.  The process might become tedious for some and not enjoyable anymore.  Because the season is in full swing, they have to be fully focused on their game.  Therefore, signing autographs becomes secondary.

Here are a few tips for snagging a signature of your favorite player.

1.  Players’ love signing for females.  If you are a female, great!  Show em what you got.  If you are not a female, go with a female and have her get the autograph for you.

2.  One Hall of Fame baseball player that I had dinner once with, (but will not name) says that you should call each player by his first name, or nickname.  Don’t say Mr. John Doe, can you sign this for me.  They are people just like you and me.  Call them by their name.  

3.Do NOT bring 50 million things with you to get autgraphed.  They will think that you are reselling their autograph if you do.

4. Be Prepared.  Bring with you the appropriate pen/marker and test it before you have it signed.  I have seen on a few occasions when the little boy goes for an autograph, but his pen fails.  Ouch!  If you are having a photograph signed, have something hard for him to sign it with you.    


Good luck

As always, keep your questions coming and maybe yours will be featured soon! 

Time to open up the fan mail bag

Question:   I have a fairly large collection of Sports Memorabilia.  The collection includes baseball cards, autographed baseballs and bats.  What other sports ephemera can be potentially valuable?


Answer:  Many collector’s of sports collectibles focus on baseball cards and autographs, like you stated above.  However, there are other sports items that are very valuable as well.  I have listed a sampling below in no particular order. 


1.  Championship Rings.  World Series rings, as one can imagine, command the highest dollar amount.  Yankees and Mets have the highest demand, and they go for a pretty penny.  The Chicago Cubs haven’t won a World Series in over 100 hundred years.  When they do win it, that ring will be worth a small fortune.  (I guarantee they win a Championship in the next 5 years.  Anybody agree, or disagree?)

2.  World Series full sized tickets from 50-70 years ago can be worth money.  Collecting World Series tickets is currently a small, niche field, but growing every day. 

3.  World Series programs…especially ones from the Yankees. 

4.  Baseball advertising posters from the 1880’s-1940’s.  Many companies produced large advertising signs for Mom and Pop stores to hang up in their store windows to promote their product.  Many of these signs have been thrown out, but some of the surviving examples are quite stunning to see in person. 

5.  Bobbing Head dolls.  The bobbing heads, or nodders, were very popular in the 60’s and 70’s.  Some are extremely rare. 




Common Vs. All-star baseball cards

When colllecting baseball cards, everybody usually goes after the Yankees and Dodgers cards.  Collectors/hobbyists also try and find the All-star players.  This makes sense because they are also the most valuable.  The “John Doe’s” of baseball are not usually collected.  These cards are referred to as “common” cards. 

I like to take the road less traveled.  Common cards can be just as valuable if not more than the Mickey Mantle’s or Babe Ruth’s.  The price of a baseball card is based upon the condition of the card.  How are the corners, are there creases, etc?  I own some MINT common baseball cards that are worth more than the Mickey Mantle’s I own.  The Mickey Mantle’s are not from his rookie year and they are a little beat up.  As you can imagine, the field for collecting common cards is a lot less crowded. 

Chicago Baseball Show (part 2)

I took some great pictures with some great athletes over the weekend. (players and coaches)

I posted a blog a few weeks back asking, what would you ask your favorite player if you were able to meet this person?  I sat next to a few players’ over the weekend during their public signing appearances and chatted with many more during the private signing.  Many of these athletes are normal people, just like you and me.  However, people still clam up when they see their childhood hero.  They pay all this money for an autograph and can barely utter the word, hello.  Embarassing!  If you are paying $100 for an autograph, chat it up. 

I have attached a picture of me(on the right) with a Chicago somebody.  Can you identify who this somebody is?

Baseball Card Show in Chicago Last Weekend

I was at the Chicago Sun-Times show in Chicago over the weekend.  There were so many baseball cards, I could hardly contain myself.  It is quite enjoyable to talk with people who enjoy the same hobbies as I do.  (baseball card collecting)  I noticed quite alot of unsuspecting baseball card owners’ getting ripped off by dealers.  You need to understand that dealers’ are in business to make money.  They most likely have storefronts and that store has a rent associated with it.  Just because a dealer has been in business for twenty years, it doesn’t necessarily mean that this person(s) will offer you the most money for your collection.  I am a collector, and have been so since i was 13.  Look at my website for my picture with Walter Payton nearly 15 years ago.  www.baseballintheattic.com

Over the years, I have been able to offer more for baseball cards than most dealers’ because buying cards is not my job, and I intend to save most of the cards for a long, long time.  Just remember, be smart!


Are these baseball cards mint?

I ask myself this question everytime i come across a collection.  Many times a collector or collector(s) opened up a pack of cards many decades ago and immediately put the card in a baseball card sleeve or other protective case.  This card was only been to be retrieved decades later when the owner wants to sell the card.  Any prospective buyer would have to examine the card very thouroughly before making an offer.  Therefore, the card must be taken out of the sleeve or case to inspect for creases, centering, trimming, etc.  Many times the owner does not want the card to be removed, for obvious reasons.  However, the seller needs to think of himself as the buyer.  How would you like to be shown an item, and then be told you can not inspect it.  You would laugh and walk away from the deal.

One thing that was quite common some time ago, and still is today, is trimming of cards.  Basebal cards are trimmed to shave down the rough corners.  The card will then look like it has four sharp corners.  Trimming is sometimes tough to decipher to the naked eye, but a careful measure will determine if the card has been trimmed.  I got a call from a guy on the east coast with a great baseball card collection a few months ago.  When i told him i wanted to take each card out of the sleeve, he thought i was nuts.  He told me the history of how the cards were obtained.  He couldn’t understand why i wanted to measure the cards.  If i am going to spend thousands of dollars, i must be satisfied with the cards.  Needless to say, I walked away from the deal. 

As a private colllector, I am always top dollar for baseball cards, but I have to be able to measure them and inspect for creases with a magnifying glass.