CGC Cards Grades Rare Group of E104 Baseball Cards

Posted on 2/26/2024

A group of 10 E104 baseball cards dating to the early 1900s were recently certified by CGC Cards graders.

Every now and then in the sports card hobby there is a rare find of vintage baseball cards that have not been seen by the collecting community since they were released years before. One such find happened in late 2023, when a group of vintage cards showed up in an online auction. The 10 vintage cards were from the seldom-seen 1910 E104-1 Nadja Caramel set, according to Jefferson Burdick's The American Card Catalog.

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The personal collection was stowed away for decades and passed down through the collector's family. When asked about the group of E104 vintage cards, the seller said: "They were in my parents' estates but stemmed from my grandfather, who died in 1927. They were just saved as trinkets of family possessions. I had no idea of their value."

The extremely scarce E104-1 set features only 18 cards that many consider to be a subset of the E104 Nadja Caramel series. Each of the 18 baseball cards depicts players from the 1910 World Series champion Philadelphia Athletics, with manager Connie Mack and players Frank "Home Run" Baker, Chief Bender, Eddie Collins and Eddie Plank leading the pack.

The front design of the set features a colorful portrait of each player or manager inside a simple white border. It reads "World's Champions 1910" adjacent to each portrait and includes the player's last name and team name at the bottom. The back of each card in this set is either blank or contains an advertisement that states "Play Ball! And Eat Nadja Caramels The Winners." In fact, a California-based businessman in the early 20th century utilized the blank backs to advertise his store.

Each of the 10 cards in the group have "Swift" stamps on the back promoting the distributor, Swift's Variety Shop. The proprietor of the store, H.L. Swift, was an advertising pioneer. His claim to fame was selling postal stamps at cost to get people in the door. Apparently, he used his store ink stamp on the backs of these very rare cards for the same reason.

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These baseball cards were possibly given out at the point of sale to lure customers back to the store. For decades, Nadja E104s with these stamps on the back have been known to pop up on occasion, but some of this information is new to the hobby. New information, from century-old sets like this one, is what keeps it exciting for die-hard collectors.

Since there have been other E104-1 cards with the Swift stamps on them, it could be debated that their correct names should be E104-1 Swift cards. Some of the stamps had full store names and some only had the Swift nomenclature and an address. The address changed from 242 West St. to 244 West St. at some point, which is reflected on the cards. Some of the cards also had the full address reflecting that the 244 W. 23rd St. location was in Los Angeles. What today is the nation’s second-largest city had, at the time, just entered the list of top 20 cities in the country, giving a new and exciting twist to the origins of the Swift stamp.

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After this vintage group of cards was purchased in the 2023 auction, the winning bidder eventually sold most of them to another collector. Together, they decided to get the group authenticated and graded by CGC Cards™, due to the company's unparalleled knowledge in the vintage card market. CGC recognized the fact that these were distributed by Swift and didn't downgrade for the advertising. The fact that Swift was delineated in two different ways on the labels was another big plus for collectors who pine over such variations.

Related Link:

CGC Cards Census — 1910 E104-1 Nadja

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