Today’s Card of the Day is our first from a classic Pre-WWI set. The 1912 Hassan Triple Folders set had a unique design that current card collectors may have seen in the recent past, when Topps recreated the set in 2003. This particular version was chosen for the photos of Pittsburgh Pirates manager/left fielder Fred Clarke, and their first baseman for 1912, Dots Miller. The original set from 1912 featured 132 cards, though not every one was completely different from other cards in the set. Here’s the front of this week’s card, so it’s easier to explain the set with some visualization help:
The “triple folders” name came from built in folds between the two end cards (called side panels) and the photo in the middle. Occasionally, people removed the end cards and you can find them separate from the middle piece. The side panels use the same design at the popular T205 set, but there are subtle differences between a solo panel and a T205 card.
Sometimes the middle piece had something to do with the side panel players, other times they didn’t. In this instance, the middle card shows the legendary Tris Speaker sliding into a base. That gives this card two Hall of Fame outfielders and helps drive up the value, but the Speaker action shot had nothing to do with the pair of Pirates on the side panels.
I mentioned that not every card was completely different. That Dots Miller panel can only be found with Speaker and Clarke, as shown here. However, Clarke can also be found with Bobby Byrne and George Gibson, two other Pirates players. Each of those cards has a different middle panel, with the Gibson/Clarke duo having two different middle panel versions. The middle panel here with Tris Speaker can only be found with this Clarke/Miller combo.
Here’s the back of the cards, which have a great design and they are filled with information:
As you can see, each player has his own bio section, with the Clarke card talking about possibilities for the 1912 season, the Speaker middle section talking about the 1912 season, while the Miller card only talks about his 1909 exploits, despite solid seasons in 1911-12. A keen eye will notice that the name on the back says “John D Miller”. That’s actually very interesting to see because the T205 set included an error that was fixed. His middle name was Barney, and you can find T205 cards with either D or B listed as his middle initial. Perhaps the people making the card were confused by the nickname Dots. Fred Clarke’s middle name was actually Clifford, so I don’t know where the “T” came from. He didn’t have a middle initial on his T205 card.
A poor condition version of this card recently sold for $50, but if you wanted a nice example, you’re going to pay around $500. Higher grade ones will go into four figures. The side panels separate can be had fairly cheap in this set. They were meant to be folded, not removed, so basically it’s part of a severely damaged card, but they still have a nice look to them.
Here are the previous Card of the Day articles. Eventually we will have a better way to organize them on Pittsburgh Baseball History, as opposed to just a continuously growing list at the bottom of each article:
2020 Topps Living Set Josh Bell
2020 Roberto Clemente Topps Throwback
1887 N172 Old Judge Art Whitney and Dog
1981 Topps Pirates Future Stars
1936 R312 Honus Wagner and Arky Vaughan
2005 Bowman Heritage Andrew McCutchen
1961 Topps Gino Cimoli World Series Highlights
1969 Topps Richie Hebner/Al Oliver
1887 N172 Sam Barkley (guest submission)
2020 Topps 206 Roberto Clemente
1998 Topps Jose Guillen (guest submission)
1987 Donruss Opening Day Barry Bonds/Johnny Ray Error
1984 Topps NL Career Batting Leaders: Bill Madlock/Dave Parker
1888 N29 Allen & Ginter George Miller
1965 Topps Pirates Rookie Stars
2009 Topps Heritage Jack Wilson
1982 Topps Pirates Team Leaders
1985 Donruss Diamond Kings Tony Pena
1975 Kellogg’s Richie Zisk