BREAKING NEWS: Newly Discovered Tobacco Cards Hidden In Duke Chapel

Lola Simmons, an exceptional architectural and engineering student at Duke University made an interesting discovery while inside Duke Chapel – three rare tobacco cards.

After weeks of red tape, she finally received the “ok” to test a new type of structural x-ray equipment.  Although the school administrators weren’t thrilled that she would be using it inside one of their most beloved structures, she persuaded them otherwise.  According to Miss Simmons, “The chapel’s age, foundation, and material used in it’s construction made it the perfect test subject.”

Miss Simmons enjoys working alone.  She finds that its the best way to concentrate.  Her work with this particular experiment needed to be done at night in order to avoid disrupting the chapel’s daily traffic.  On October 10, she settled in for a long night of testing with the school’s newly acquired multi-million dollar device.  After a few hours, things weren’t going well.  She came to the conclusion that a move to another part of the chapel needed to be done.  The Duke Memorial Chapel she believed would work far better.  Unfortunately this part is blocked off with an iron gate.  Determined to complete her work, she macgyvered her way through the lock.

Silence was quickly erased as a thunderstorm moved in.  That first clap of thunder caused her to drop the device.  It went off taking a picture of the left wall.  Luckily the device wasn’t damaged.  Before deleting that dud, she took a look at it.  The sarcophagus housing the remains of George Washington Duke seemed to display an unusual compartment.  Judging by the picture, the compartment looked to be right behind one of the ornate carvings.  Giving the decoration a touch, she could tell it wasn’t fixed.  With a small twist, the compartment opened.  Inside was a strong smell of tobacco, and one lonesome card.  The card was of Mr. Duke.

Along with George Washington Duke, his sons James and Benjamin also have sarcophagi.  Miss Simmons noticed the same carvings on those as well.  Each ended up having a compartment holding a tobacco card.  One of James, and one of Benjamin.

All three cards look to be part of the 1887 Old Judge N172 set.  They most likely are the only examples featuring these men.  George, James, and Benjamin are each pictured sitting in a chair.  A dead stare is in their eyes, while a haunting stag head hangs on the wall.  All attempts at photographing or scanning them have failed.  Not wanting to be seen seems to be their main objective.  Each card was respectfully returned to it’s rightful grave.

The Duke family made their fortune in the cigarette and tobacco business.  Once having a monopoly over the entire industry.  Duke University is one of their largest benefactors.  In the mid-1880s, it was their idea to place cardboard advertisements inside tobacco products.  They helped start this hobby of ours, and didn’t even know it.

Shortly after my meeting with Miss Simmons, she went missing.  The last person to see her was her mother.  According to her mother, “Lola didn’t look well, and just wanted to go to sleep.  She went up to bed, and wasn’t there the next morning.  I just want my baby back.”  The police are doing everything they can.

Until now, this card from 2009 TRISTAR Obak was the only card of The Dukes.

Review: BCW Tobacco Card Insert Sleeves

A package arrived in the mail for me yesterday.  I wasn’t expecting anything, but inside was a pack of the new BCW Tobacco Card Insert Sleeves.  Plus I got some really cool looking BCW branded box cutters.

The people over at BCW are always looking for better ways to help protect and display your collection.  One of their newest products are these tobacco card insert sleeves.  Basically, they’re fancy sleeves for your mini tobacco-sized cards.  The sleeve itself is the size of a regular card – 2.5″ x 3.5″.  In the center of the sleeve is a spot for your tobacco-sized card to fit.  This allows you to easily store your tobacco-sized cards in standard album pages, boxes, or holders.

Mini cards like this are everywhere today.  Storing them safely where they’ll be protected and easily accessible hasn’t always been a simple thing.  Now it is!  Before you would need to use those real small penny sleeves and holders.  Or you would place the mini card in a standard sleeve/holder where it could move around.

Could your collection benefit from these new sleeves?  You can buy them here.

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Card of the Day: Mickey Vernon 1953 Redman Tobacco AL-21

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Rare Gem On Display At Citizens Bank Park

Last night while watching the Phillies I heard Tom McCarthy and Chris Wheeler talk about something you rarely hear about on prime time television – baseball cards.  Right now at Citizens Bank Park this 1909-11 T206 uncut strip containing Honus Wagner will be on display thanks to Hunt Auctions.  This strip has been bought and sold many times over the years and still amazes collectors.  How in the hell did this thing stay together after all this time?  Many rumors state it was found in a pair of old pants owned by Wagner.


This would make the ultimate box topper.

Flashback Product of the Week: 1911 C59 Imperial Tobacco Lacrosse

Last week Upper Deck announced that they plan to make a lacrosse set.  I’m probably going to stay far away from this product since I’m really not into lacrosse.  I think its a preppy version of hockey 🙂  Its always interesting to see what a company like Upper Deck will do to survive.

Oddly though, this won’t be the first time lacrosse players have found their way onto cardboard.  Imperial Tobacco Company created a few sets between 1910 and 1912.  They are classified as C59, C60, and C61.  Somehow the 1911 cards are classified as C59 and not C60.  This is where it can be a bit confusing, especially when two of the years basically are the same except for a few cards.  They aren’t the most valuable tobacco cards on the market, but if one surfaces that is in excellent condition the sky is the limit.

A few weeks ago while visiting Baltimore, I went into the Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards.  Inside they had a pair of lacrosse sticks from 1780.  I should haven taken a picture of them.


I think its odd that they have the card number on the front.

This Is Why Tobacco Cards Are So Valuable


Reason #9,671 why tobacco cards are so valuable – condition.  Wouldn’t you like to know the story of how these cards got like this?  That Pittsburgh card isn’t of Wagner.  Instead its of Willis.  Someone is trying to get $150.00 for all of these, but I doubt thats going to happen.  I’m sure one of the auction houses thats been investigated by the FBI could “fix” them up to look brand new.  Then again, even these cards might a stretch for them.

Rookie Card Of The Industry

With all the historical figures being placed within trading card products these days, I’m surprised that this is the first card of The Dukes.  James Buchanan Duke came up with the idea to place cardboard inserts within packages of their tobacco and pretty much started the industry we all are in right now.  This is one of my favorite cards of the year just for historical purposes.  This card is from the 25-card subset called Game Changers from the new 2009 TRISTAR Obak.  I can’t wait to give the new Obak a try.  It features the first cards of many pioneers that helped shape the game of baseball.  I guess in a way The Dukes could be considered the rookie card of the entire industry.  A few months ago wrote a post about how someone should make a card of The Dukes.  I guess TRISTAR is a fan of the sports card blogosphere.


This is the first image I could find that doesn’t contain a Beckett watermark.

New Old Judge Pose Found

One of the ways I obtain topics to blog about comes from browsing various forums reading what collectors are talking about.  Last night over at the Collector’s Universe forum I saw a collector showing off a new addition to their personal collection.  A few months ago they came across an Old Judge  collection and purchased this card of Joe Miller.  After making the purchase, they discovered it was a new pose that had never been seen before.  When sending it in for grading, PSA even wanted the owner’s approval for the pose description.

I’m glad to see these discoveries still happening after all these years.  I don’t collect a lot of vintage cards, but I’d love to add an Old Judge tobacco card to my collection someday.  I’ve seen a bunch at card shows over the years, but they were either way out of my price range or were trimmed.


Is There A Lawyer In The House?

During The National, I passed this one artist who painted a lot of really great sports images.  At their booth, they provided a few giveaways for collectors including these mini tobacco sized cards of Christy Mathewson.  Every weekend I usually list some cards to sell on eBay, and I thought I would give the Mathewson a chance.  Last night I received a message from another eBay user stating the following:

Kindly remove the Mathewson t-206 card given out at The National. This was a business venture using a personal card for Kreindler. Once it goes into the commercial mainstream it becomes liable to the estate and we had no prospect of making money from these cards. By leaving it up you give me no choice but to direct all legal inquiries to you now that you have been advised. I understand you are trying to be clever but it creates an actionable situation which I will not place Mr. Kreindler in.

Just to be on the safe side, I closed the auction.  I wasn’t expecting it to sell anyway, but thought I’d just give it a try.  If anyone else picked one of these up at The National, be very careful when trying to sell/trade it.


These 2009 Kreindler Paintings Christy Mathewson mini’s are really cool.  I think the artist should start his own card company.

Old Tobacco Discovery

Yesturday I received an e-mail from a reader stating they have a bunch of old tobacco cards that once belonged to their grandfather.  Many of them look to be original Allen & Ginter cards from the 1880’s.  There are boxers, calendars, and a bunch of animals.  They don’t seem to be in the best condition because they were glued in an album for many years.  They told me within all the cards there is a Jack Sullivan, who was a popular boxer at the time.  From what I have seen, based on the condition I guess they all might be worth a few hundred dollars.  That might be strethcing it though because of all the damage.  For those collectors a little more familiar with the boxers and animals from this set, what value would you put on them?  Either way, its still a nice collection of tobacco cards no matter the condition.  Click on each photo to enlarge.




This is a closer picture of a few cards from the middle image