Card of the Day: 1921 Exhibits Max Carey

Today’s Card of the Day selection doesn’t come from a birthday or transaction like usual. It’s a light/obscure day in the daily history article today. I usually only add game recaps to the daily article if it’s light on info, or needs some name power. Today was a little bit of both, but leans more towards the name power side. There are five former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date. If you go by the amount of former Pirates that exist, five birthdays is an average day. The problem is that they don’t offer any card options, so we have to go to the next option.

The Pirates opened their 1919 season on April 24th. It was a bit of a long break between games. The 1918 season ended on September 2nd due to WWI. That means that clubs went almost eight months between games. Max Carey was in the middle of his Hall of Fame career at that time. The Pirates had an asterisk trio of Hall of Famers batting 2-4 in the lineup that day. The #2 hitter Carey was followed by Casey Stengel and Billy Southworth. The latter two are both in Cooperstown as managers, but they were solid players during their time. That trio also made up the Pirates outfield that day, with Carey in center field.

Stengel and Southworth don’t have many card options showing them with the Pirates, especially not ones we can use here, since they have both been featured. So instead we take a look at the 1921 Exhibits card of Carey. This set has been featured here once before for Possum Whitted.

Here’s the front of the card (the back of the card is blank):

These cards are very similar to postcards. The backs of all of them over the years are blank. Everything about the player (which isn’t much) is included on the front. These cards measure 3-3/8″ X 5-3/8″, which is the main reason that they get the postcard comparison.

You can see that this card is all photo. The Exhibits sets didn’t have borders, so the only design to them was written in the photo itself. This particular year saw them use cursive writing for the player’s name, followed by their position and team. Not only did the Exhibits company go with the old “Pittsburg” spelling that went out of use ten years earlier, they also felt the need to tell you that it was the National League team. If you didn’t know that already, you probably didn’t know what “NL” stood for, so that wasn’t helping anything. Carey has his middle initial here (George), which is not how he signed his name.

If you buy newer cards of players, there’s a good chance the photo was taken within the last year. That isn’t the case here with this Carey card. The easy way to tell that here is that the Pirates last wore pinstripe uniforms in 1914. Carey is wearing a pinstripe uniform, and the only team he played for up to the point of this card’s release was the Pirates. If he was turned just a little more towards the camera, I’d be able to narrow down the year more, but you can put it in the 1912-14 time-frame. It certainly looks like 1912 because of the white cap, which would make it a nine-year-old photo. It’s a very unique looking action shot, so no one was complaining about the photo being old. At least I don’t think they were back then, but collectors now look unique poses.

The size of the cards in this set helps keep the price down. There are plenty of collectors who don’t like the over-sized cards. That’s good for you because a Carey card in nice shape would be pricey due to his Hall of Fame status. These also aren’t that rare for old cards, which also helps with the price. There are older sets of bigger cards, where the price is high because the supply is low.

There’s an SGC 60 copy of this card on Ebay for $205. There’s also an SGC 4.5 for $143. Or you can get a decent looking ungraded copy for $122. No copies have sold in the last three months.