For my first entry, I chose a card that I really paid no attention to when I first came across it in one of the boxes. In fact, I almost tossed it into the trash when I believed it was just a clipping from an old newspaper. I'm glad I didn't. Going back through the box a second time, it occurred to me that this was more than newsprint. As I flipped the card over, I noticed the name Hassan and immediately realized what it was. Not being an expert on vintage cards, I wasn't aware of the year or classification but I new...It was a tobacco card!
At first look, you are probably saying, "Wow! That is in some bad shape." You'd be right, although If I looked this good at 98 years old I'd be happy. On the front it featured the great baseball legend Napoleon Lajoie, anxiously awaiting a pitch. On the back it reads:
The chances are good that Lajoie, the man at bat in the picture will make the hit he is apparently laying for. He is one of the most confident batters of all time, and rarely finds it necessary to sacrifice. During the first ten years of American League history Lajoie was one of the three men to make 200 or more hits in a season (the others were George Stone and Ty Cobb). In 1901, 1904, 1906, and 1910 he reached this record, and in the last year smashed all American League records to that time by pounding out 227 hits, seven more than in 1901, although in that year he made a percentage of .422. In 1911 he had a batting average of .365.I will spare everyone the details of the history of Nap Lajoie and what he meant for baseball back in the early days. There are plenty of people that have done that already and done it better than I could. But I will talk a bit about the card.
This is a T-202 model card that was issued in 1912 by the Hassan Cigarette company. Well known now in the antique industry as one of the most prolific issuer of pin back buttons (along with Tokio and Obak) as part of their promotions, many people forget they put out one of the most interesting (at least in my mind) cards of the early 20th century. The card's measured 5 1/2" by 2 1/4" when fully intact. That's right. This is only "part" of the card. Hassan took on the concept of a multi-player card one step further than the Mecca cigarette company had the year before. The full size card would have the center panel as you see here but also two side panels that feature an individual player (usually not the one in the picture either). The idea was that you could fold over the two panels to create a booklet. Hence the term, "Triple Folder".
It worked like a charm and these quickly gained popularity, as they were the only cards that featured a somewhat, full write up on each player on the back. Over time, the constant bending and folding of the side panels caused many of the cards to become detached from their full panel status. Many people hung onto the player panels themselves as they were full color headshots but discarded the center black and white panel as it was larger in size and harder to keep stored. You can, however, still find many of these available on Ebay or other places for a reasonable amount in their full state.
I have yet to find either of the two panels in any boxes but you never know. I am just happy that I now own a piece of card collecting history. Welcome to the Garage, Mr. Lajoie.