I just finished going through everything in 1963 Topps and 2012 Topps Heritage. Now we’ll move on to the Gypsies, who have taken control of this blog! Below is a copy of the post I did last year on the original Gypsy Queen set from 1887. I purchased 2 boxes of Gypsy Queen which came last week – I’ll go through them in the same way as I do with other sets.
- Set Background: The N174/N175 Gypsy Queen tobacco card set was issued by the Goodwin & Co. in 1887 to help market the company’s Gypsy Queen cigarettes. Goodwin was founded before the Civil War and was one of four tobacco companies that became the American Tobacco Company monopoly in 1890. Goodwin is known for Old Judge, Gypsy Queen and Goodwin Champions card sets. I’ve seen this set designated as both N174 and N175. Many of the cards feature the same photos as the N172 Old Judge set – which has far more than thee 150 or so cards from this set.
- Set Design: The cards feature a sepia toned photograph of the designated player with a white border. The border curves at the top, with the words “Gypsy Queen” prominently featured in old-style font. The player name (usually the full last name and first initial), position and team city are featured at the bottom. Players for the 1886 World Series champion St. Louis Browns (of the American Association) also had the word “Champions” below the team name. The bottom border states Goodwin & Co. copyright and clearly states the year of issue – 1887. The words “Cigarettes” and “Goodwin & Co. N.Y.” are also shown at the bottom. There are two sizes of cards in the set. The most common size is the 1.5″ x 2.5″, while the far rarer larger cards measure 2″ x 3.5″. There are only 8 or 9 larger cards known to exist, and they tend to be of more notable players.
- Packs: Cards were released inside 1 card per Gypsy Queen cigarette packs sold by Goodwin & Co. I don’t know this for sure, but I surmise the larger cards were available via some sort of mail-in (as they seemingly wouldn’t fit in a cigarette pack).
- Rookies: I’m not even going to go there. The rookie card craze still had 100 years before it built any momentum.
- Hall of Fame: There are 12 Hall of Famers out of the cards known to be issued in this set.
- Buck Ewing, Dan Brouthers, John Montgomery Ward, Mike “King” Kelly, Ned Hanlon, Charlie “Old Hoss” Radbourn, Orator Jim O’Rourke, Pud Galvin, Roger Connor, Tim Keefe, Tommy McCarthy, and Charles Comiskey.
- Last Active player: Deacon McGuire. This was interesting to figure out to say the least. McGuire played 1 game for the Detroit Tigers in 1912 – he was the only player from this set to make an appearance in the decade of the 1910’s. McGuire was a journeyman catcher who played in parts of 26 seasons – a record until Nolan Ryan broke it in the mid-90’s. He also played for 11 different franchises, which was a record until Matt Stairs passed that record last year. McGuire was the starting catcher for the 1904 New York Highlanders (Yankees), so he likely caught the majority of Jack Chesbro’s modern record 41 wins. He played regularly until 1906, when he played 51 games New York. He was a manager for Boston and Cleveland after that, never playing more than 6 games in a year over the last half of the decade. He was a coach for the Tigers in 1912 when he played his last game – going 1 for 2. A number of other players made appearances in the second half of the 1900’s, a couple of them after a significant time away from the game.
- Variations: The most recent Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards listed 114 different players, 56 more small size variations of cards for those players. Many of the different photo variations involve one fielding pose and another batting pose.
There are 8 large card variations of the players in the regular set. These are not photo variations – they are the same card but in a larger size (the 2″ x 3.5″). This is still slightly smaller than today’s standard card set. If you were rich and collected old cards, it would be pretty sweet to marry up one of the larger cards with the smaller cards. This would be difficult, though – the larger cards are particularly rare. I’ve seen a number of websites reference that there are 9 large card variation.