Collecting 1913 Fatima Cigarette Team Cards

Collecting Fatima Cigarettes cards from 1913. Issued by Ligget & Myers tobacco, the cards are some of the most rare and desirable in the baseball collecting hobby.

Prior to the popularity of bubble gum, baseball cards were mainly designed for and purchased by adults who bought tobacco products.

At least this was the case in the early part of the 20th century when a large number of tobacco companies included a baseball player photo or card in their products to promote sales. Players like Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson and Cy Young wound up mainly in the hands of smokers during this era. Typically, the cards featured only one player or scene. There were several different poses of some players issued in the most popular tobacco set, the large and challenging T206 issue.

However, in 1913, Fatima Cigarettes produced "team cards" with it's tobacco products.

Measuring 2 5/8" by 4 3/4", the sepia toned cards featured posed photos of the entire squads of the eight National and eight American League teams.

Fatima was the brand name of the cigarettes (much like Camel or Kool today), but the company that produced this product was Ligget & Myers Tobacco Company.

There is a small Fatima ad on the front of each card along with identification of the players and team pictured. The cards are glossy photographs printed on basic thin cardboard stock. They were not widely distributed and apparently not as popular as some of the player issues of the day. Some cards, notably the American League varities, are especially rare and valuable. While a Boston Braves National League team card can be found for $135-450 depending on condition, a New York American League card costs anywhere from $800-$2500. The complete set is valued at between $4000 and $10000 again, depending on grade and the cards have been known to sell for higher prices.

The backs of the cards contained an offer for a larger copy of the team card, without the frontal advertising. To obtain the "super size" card measuring 13" by 21", or 11" by 19" , someone had to redeem 40 Fatima cigarette coupons. It was a task only the most ardent user could undertake and as such, the 1913 Fatima PREMIUM photos are among the hobby's most treasured items. Printed on heavier stock, these cards are brilliant

images from a by-gone era.

Among the Hall of Famers pictured are Walter Johnson, Connie Mack, Home Run Baker, Eddie Collins, Grover Cleveland Alexander and yes, even Shoeless Joe Jackson.

Common cards sell for no less than $2000 unless they are in lower grade. Higher grade samples have been known to broach $15,000 each. A complete set in near mint condition would set you back $12,000--if you could find one-- according to card collecting annuals like the Krause Publications Standard Catalogue of Baseball Cards. It's because of their larger size that the preimiums aren't often found in near mint condition.

Three premium cards were recently offered by Mastro West auctions, with all three fetching prices reflecting their scarcity and value even though none of the cards would be considered near mint by any stretch. Minimum bids began at $1,500 for the Phillies and Athletics cards and $2,000 for the Washington Senators premium, which contained a photo of Walter Johnson and future Black Sox instigator Chick Gandil.

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