1927 HONEY BOY SET
by David Rudd Cycleback
Recently, Michael Tedesco (Little Beauties) auctioned off what is believed to be a unique complete set of baseball cards on eBay-the 1927 Honey Boy Ice Cream set. Tadesco had owned the set for two years, but didn't know what to do with it as it was uncataloged in any price guide and few collectors had heard of it. Krause's 2001 Standard Catalog finally mentioned it, listing only five know subjects. Tadesco owned the all 21 cards including an uncataloged card of Babe Ruth. It is reasonable to assume that both the complete set and the Ruth are unique.
As written on the backs of the cards, a full set of 21 could be redeemed for a brick of Honey Boy Ice Cream. While the collector got to keep the cards, every card was punched with a small hole so they couldn't be redeemed again. This set has the holes.
The following is the set checklist:
#1 "Steamer" Maxwell, Arenas
#2 Cecil Brown, Dominion Express
#3 Carson McVey, Transcona
#4 Sam Perlman, Tigers
#5 "Snake" Siddle, Arenas
#6 Eddie Cass, Columbus Club
#7 Jimmy Bradley, Columbus Club
#8 Gordon Caslake, Dominion Express
#9 Ward McVey, Tigers
#10 "Tris" Speaker
#11 George Sisler
#12 E. Meusel
#13 Ed. Roush
#14 "Babe" Ruth
#15 Harry Heilman
#16 Heinie Groh
#17 Eddie Collins
#18 Grover Alexander
#19 Dave Bancroft
#20 Frank Frisch
#21 George Burns
The following are pictures of three of the cards:
#14 Babe Ruth
#10 Tris Speaker
#18 Grover Cleveland Alexander
Michael Tedesco gave me the following account of the cards:
"The set came from the estate of Edward Wharton-Tigar, long time president of the Cartophilic Society of Great Britain and editor of the 5-volume World Tobacco Index and many other reference publications. On his death in the mid-90's, he left a collection of about 3,000,000 cards. The roughly 2,000,000 unique examples were bequeathed to the British Museum in London and are now housed in a special collection available for viewing by appointment. The remaining 1,000,000 duplicates were auctioned or sold over a period of about three years, ending around April 1999. I believe Maple Leaf Collectibles handled the baseball cards from the estate sometime in 1996-97. I purchased an accumulation of about 10-15,000 cards and items of ephemera from the trustees of the estate in November 1998, and the Honey Boy set was part of that purchase.
"Based on correspondence with several collectors, I got the impression that a fair retail for common types from the set might be $150-300. Given the extreme scarcity, it is hard to say what kind of multiple EX cards might command, but I would suppose it should be roughly triple. I set the reserve based on a "guesstimate" of about $100 each for the 9 Canadian minor leaguers, $200 for each of the 3 common major leaguers, $250 for each of the 8 Hall of Fame players --other than Ruth -- and $1,500 for the Ruth card.
"As a point for further reseach, Lew Lipset wrote to advise that some of the Canadian minor leaguers may not be baseball players at all, but rather local stars of hockey or lacrosse teams. I have been unable to verify anything regarding the players depicted or the teams involved.
"While I imagine there are several disappointed type collectors, I am very pleased to have sold the set intact. Knowing the buyer, I am sure the set is going to a very good home. "
The set sold sold for $5,000.
As an afternote, not only was Edward Wharton-Tigar a card collector of great note, but also a decorated spy during World War II and afterwords an executive in the diamond industry. I read a story that after Wharton-Tigar wrote about large diamond deposits found in West Africa, De Beers (of South Africa), which lives and dies upon perceived scarcity of diamonds, suppressed the information buy buying up all the books and burning them.