At one point, some brave baseball fans decided to embrace their inner oddball collector and declared food and beverage issues worthy to stand in their albums next to the Topps, Fleer, Bowman, Leaf and Goudey national issues.
Today, those rare, colorful, sometimes regional issues often fetch higher bids than their more well-known counterparts. Collectors now appreciate the challenge of finding these original short prints, especially in good condition. Check out some of the “greatest hits” sold in January on eBay:
KAHN’S WEINERS: While the 1960 NBA issue from this company is pretty exciting, with keys like Oscar Robertson and Jerry West, on the baseball side, several now-popular issues came out during the 1950s and ’60s, too.
Top recent bid-getters include: Large 1968 Hank Aaron, SGC 88, $275; Small 1968 Hank Aaron, PSA 6, $227.50; and 1957 Roberto Clemente, $146.94. While stars of food issues reign, even high-grade commons pull good closing bids, as illustrated by the sale of a 1957 Roy McMillan, PSA 8, $138.50.
WILSON FRANKS: The mother of all food issue cards, the 1954 Ted Williams Wilson Franks, routinely is the most valuable card featuring the Splendid Splinter. A PSA 5 card came up on eBay, and though no bidder rose to the occasion of the $8,295 asking price, that gives you an idea of where it sits in the hobby pantheon. Robert Edward Auctions sold a PSA 6 for $10,400 in 2006. Other recent auctions from this 1954 issue: Bob Feller, PSA 5, $381; Ferris Fain, PSA 5, $300; Ferris Fain, SGC 60, $157.
MOTHER’S COOKIES: In 1953, this baker came out with a Pacific Coast League minors issue, which is quite popular today, as well as various major league sets. Best sellers include: 1953 George Schmell, PSA 10, $345.67; 1953 Anthony Tornay, PSA 9, $327.55; 1989 Will Clark, PSA 10, $59; 1994 Barry Bonds autographed card, PSA/DNA, $49.
CHIPS: Assorted potato-chip vendors issued cards during the 20th century, and the stars usually fetch the largest bids. But rare commons can also sneak into the top auctions, when set-builders get desperate.
Tops in January include: 1954 Dan Dee Mickey Mantle, $456; pair of 1976 Reggie Jackson Crane Potato Chips Reggie Jackson, $45.44; 1976 Crane set, $38.99; 1954 Dan Dee Duke Snider, $32.02.
HIRE’S: Cards from this 1958 beverage issue are gulped up at eBay, including $203.50 for Ted Kluszewski; $202.51 for a PSA 8 Johnny Antonelli; and $155 for a PSA 6 Larry Doby.
COKE ISN’T IT: While various Pepsi and Coca-Cola bottlers have put out a fair amount of major and minor league baseball cards in their day, none have really gained traction with collectors. Highlights in January include a 1981 Topps Coca-Cola Pete Rose, PSA 9, $22.06, and … that’s it. A 1991 Coca-Cola Don Mattingly card – the only PSA 10 graded, ever – would have made the cut at $24.99, but no one bid on it eBay and it went unsold.