SPORTS COLLECTIBLES: Damage hurts value of stamps
September 07, 2013 10:10 AM

Dear Babe: I was going through a bag of early 1900s postage stamps and came across three baseball cards or stamps of sorts (image attached). They show Jimmy Sheckard of Chicago, Nat., Dots Miller of Pittsburgh, Nat., and Johnny Evers of Chicago, Nat. They are approximately 1-1/2 (inches) by 1 inch in size. They do not have any adhesive on the back like a postage stamp. I was wondering if you could tell me a little about them, where they came from, and if there is any value to them. There is some paper damage on two of them on bottom right.

— Steve Pucci, Hollis, N.H.

Wow. It’s been a long time since Da Babe was stumped, but your stamps had me going. Even Beckett’s alphabetical guide by player didn’t mention them for any of the players you have.

That’s why Da Babe has a stable of experts, who are happy to help collectors. Rich Klein, longtime hobbyist and former editor of the Beckett Almanac of Baseball Cards and Collectibles, knew right away that you had some 1911 Helmar stamps.

The Standard Catalog of Vintage Baseball Cards from the editors of Sports Collectors Digest has details on this departure from the cigarette cards of the day. The guide says they were originally issued in glassine envelopes, which hyped the Helmar brand with the added notation “Philately — The Popular European Rage.”

Both guides agree the stamps were extremely colorful and came with various background designs.

Beckett’s Almanac says there are 177 stamps out there, while the Standard Catalog lists 180.

Value is going to be tough to determine, because you don’t see these offered often. As you noted, all of your stamps have damage.

Naturally, Evers, a Hall of Famer and part of the famous Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance double-play combo of the Chicago Cubs, is the most valuable. He lists from $30 to $100. The other two are in the $15-$50 range, according to both guides.

With the damage, one would suspect that your stamps are going to be toward the bottom of the ranges.

Beckett’s top value for the set is $10,000, while the Standard Catalog has it at $8,000. Ty Cobb tops the value lists. Standard Catalog says the high book value for Cobb’s stamp is $750, while Beckett has it topping out at $500.

o o o

Dear Babe: I have a card with Jose Canseco and Madonna on it that says “Truth or Dare.” I forgot what year it was, but supposedly Canseco and Madonna were dating?

— B.N., Redding, Calif.

Now there’s a pair to draw to. “Truth or Dare” was a movie and a Madonna brand. Either way, this looks like this is an unlicensed card. Most get no bids on eBay, but one did sell for $5.50 with free shipping and handling. Obviously, it might be of interest/value to someone who collects Madonna or Canseco cards/items. It’s a novelty, not a collectible.

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