While the typical baseball card collecting hobby involves amassing sets ofCOMMON players, there is an entire untapped market focused on oddball andunusual baseball cards. Cards deemed strange or bizarre often attract attentionfrom niche collectors willing to pay top dollar. With the rise of onlineauctions and marketplaces, odd baseball cards have found a platform to besought after and traded. Here are some of the strangest baseball card lotsonce sold and some that could fetch high prices today.

Food-Issued Baseball Cards:

In the early 20th century before the boom of modern baseball cards, somecompanies printed promotional cards as part of food product packaging. Kellogg’sand other cereal producers included baseball cards in boxes targeting youngfans. While plain in design and production compared to later high qualitycards, their unusual distribution method makes food-issued cards highly covetedamong collectors. In 2013, a 1909 E-110 Old Mill baseball card issued withWheat Hearts cereal sold for $18,600. The rarity of surviving examples in goodcondition drives up values.


Theme and Non-Sports Career Cards:

Not every baseball player had a conventional on-field career reflected innormal baseball cards. Some led unusual double lives or had talents beyond thediamond. This has led to production of oddball theme cards showcasingvarieties of occupations and hobbies. A 1969 San Francisco Seals Mickey Mantle”Policeman” card sold for $10,200. It depicted the slugger in a police uniform,referencing his post retirement law enforcement career. Non-sports role cardsof Babe Ruth as a wrestler or Bob Feller as an executive have also commandedhigh prices.

Pornographic and Risque Baseball Cards:

Controversial cards featuring nudity or implied sexual content inhabit a shadyarea of collecting. While distasteful to some, their underground cult followinghas kept select examples in demand. In the 1950s and 60s when pinup modelingwas accepted, cards like those from the risque Buttera set showcased buxomwomen and suggestive phrasing. Complete Buttera sets with rare Hank Aaron cardsold for an unprecedented $25,000 in 2009. Even censored Japanese porn cardseries command four figure prices from devoted enthusiasts of the niche genre.


Error and Misprint Cards:

Whether by accident or prank, mistakenly made cards with errors in image, textor production stand out. The most valuable often resulted from the waywardactions of a lone worker confusing card batches or machines. A 1909 Tobacco’scard of Honus Wagner with an intact blue background sold for $2.8 million in2016, versus the more common white backdrop cards. Spectacular miscuts leavingpart of multiple players on one card sell for thousands due to theirconfluence of rarity and collector appeal. Errors amuse while delighting thoseseeking the unusual.

Promotional and Premium Cards:

Long before brands partnered with sports leagues for official licensing, somecompanies printed their own baseball linked premium cards. In the early 20thcentury, Milk Bone dog biscuits, Indian Motorcycles and other productsincluded cards as promotional prizes. While amateurly produced compared toBowman and Topps, their scarcity makes complete premium card sets highlyprized. One such 1909-11 set sold at auction for $33,000. Today, vintagepremium cards from obscure sponsors command 400% or more of PSA graded mainline rookie card prices.


Trading Card Novelty Issues:

For brief periods, card makers experimented with novel non-sports card ideas,often tied to baseball. In 1964, Topps released goofy printed pencil erasersdepicting ballplayers like Sandy Koufax. Wheatsheaf cigarettes issued a threecard baseball record and storytelling leaflet set in 1918 tied to wartimepatriotism. While overlooked at the time, their oddity and short productionruns make surviving examples major attractions. A Frank Howard eraser sold for$600. Novelty issues amuse while also satisfying niche collector demand forthe peculiar and unusual in baseball’s paper memorabilia landscape.

This covers just a sampling of strange baseball card types which intrigueinvestors and collectors. As interest grows for the anomalous and curiositydrums up demand, oddball issues only become more collectible. While risky asan investment given low populations, the right example offers thrill andpossible high return potential for adventurous card fans embracing all aspectsof the hobby, no matter how bizarre.

Spread the love

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *