Friday, June 23, 2017

Ever heard of a U1?

In my last post, I talked about B18 Felt Blankets. It's an issue I had not seriously considered collection previously, but ended up picking up because I could on the cheap.

Today, I want to show you an other fairly obscure issue. 1934 U1 Diamond Matchbooks. Diamond Matchbooks were issued in 5 distinct sets over a 4-year period (1934-1937). The subsequent years are catalogued as U2, U3 and U4, but it's not a one-to-one match between the year and the "U-number". The matchbooks were issued in 4 different colours: red, green, blue and orange, but not all colours are available for all years. I would classify Diamond Matchbooks as one of those sets where it's easy to find an example, but not necessarily easy to find a particular player/colour combination. If you search eBay, you'll find plenty of these Matchbooks on any given day, and you can easily get an example of one for under $20, but a particular player/colour combination isn't so easy.

For George Gibson specifically, he's only available in the 1934 U1 set. In theory, you can get matchbooks of Gibson in red, blue, green and orange. In practice, orange seems to be the most common, in my experience. After orange, is green, which shows up, but not quite as often. Then there is a sharp drop-off. I've seen exactly one blue matchbook cover, and I've never ever seen a red.

Here are a examples of the two Gibson matchbooks in my collection. Just like the felts, these are not something I had really considered adding to my collection, but when the well runs dry, you gotta drink something, right? For the right price (I paid under $20 for each of these), I'll happily add these to my collection. Truth be told, now that I have them, I hope to find the blue and red, and preferably with the striker still on them.


Saturday, June 10, 2017

So. B18s. Are these things cards?

Had a friend over last weekend to catch a local ball game. Given that he is also a Gibson enthusiast, it was a perfect opportunity to bust out my George Gibson collection to show off. Most people don't even know I collect baseball cards, so showing old cards to people isn't something I do often. Ever, really.

One thing we ended up talking about briefly was B18s. I figured it might be a good "card / non-card" item to post about. Until recently, they weren't even a part of my collection. I consider myself a card collector...and I don't really see B18s as cards. They're made of felt after all, so they can't be cards, right? The things is, it's been increasingly difficult to add Gibson items to my collection as of late, so when I was able to grab the "purple pennant" variation for less than $30 a few months back, I jumped at the chance. And I didn't really know what to expect when I got it in the mail. I was pleasantly surprised.

As somebody who always targets "cardboard", it was neat to see and be able to actually handle this issue. Compared to tobacco cards, these things are huge. They measure just over 5 inches by 5 inches. They are a really thin fabric. If you look closely at them, you can see the individual stitching that makes up the image, borders, etc.

B18s, according to, were issued in 1914 by the Egyptienne Straight Cigarettes company. I believe they were folded in half and inserted into the packs. There are 90 players in the set (9 players from each of 10 ten major league teams), but there are variations.

Not more than a few weeks after I picked up the "purple pennant" version, a "red pennant" version showed up on eBay as well. Again, normally I don't go after this kind of stuff -- but after the first one, I was kinda intent on completing the pair. I got this for a minimum bid of like $25, I think. As you can see, there is a bit of fraying on the "third base corner" of it, but it doesn't take away from the overall aesthetic if you ask me. The only real difference between the two is the replacing of purple with red. I'm not actually sure if any of the players in this set have more than two variations -- but now that I've got this pairing, I wish there were more than just two Gibsons in the set.

Even if they're not cards ;)