Monday, June 21, 2021

What's your oldest sports card?

Going through my myriad number of cards the other day raised an interesting question and one that I hadn't really thought much about - What's the oldest card in your card collection?

When you're a fan of a San Diego Padres baseball team that has only been in existence since 1969, along with the Kansas City Royals, Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals), and Seattle Pilots (now the Milwaukee Brewers), it's a no-brainer.

Ollie Brown, the original San Diego Padre, was San Diego's first pick in the 1968 baseball expansion draft.

Brown,  an outfielder who could throw the ball on a rope from far right field to third base, led the Padres in batting average in two of their first three seasons.  He hit .272 as a  Padre, with 20 homers and 208 RBIs in 458 games before being traded to the Oakland A's in May 1972. Brown passed away in April 2015, due to mesothelioma. He was 71 years old.

My other sports passion involves the Green Bay Packers. As a life-long Packers fan, and Lombardi-era aficionado, the oldest Packer card honor is held by Dave "Hawg" Hanner and his 1955 Bowman card (#131). 

Hanner was the anchor of Green Bay's defensive line for most of his 13 seasons, after being selected in the fifth round (52th overall) of the 1952 draft. He played in 160 (out of 164) regular season games, three of which were missed during his rookie season. He was Green Bay's defensive line coach (1965-71), defensive coordinator (1971-79) and assistant head coach (1975-79). In 2008, he suffered a heart attack, and died two days later.

On the hockey side, my oldest card would be my 1952 Parkhurst Gus "Hardrock" Mortson (#27), a Chicago Blackhawks Defenseman. 

He started out with the Toronto Maple Leafs  in 1946, winning four Stanley Cups, before being traded to the Blackhawks, in a deal that brought Hawks goalie Harry Lumley to Toronto. He retired in 1958-59, after part of a season with the Detroit Red Wings.

When it comes to non-sport, and I'm not entirely sure how I picked it up, would have to be this 1912 Cries of London, "Do You Want Any Matches" (#15) card. Apparently, it was a 25-card cigarette set produced by John Player & Sons, based on a series of oil paintings by Francis Wheatley, depicting real-life  images of street sellers in the late 1700's.

Now, while a 1912 card is quite old, I have yet another card that's even older, and it comes from the realm of Track and Field, going all the way back to the 1910-12 T218 Champions set.

After immigrating from Ireland in 1909, Dan Ahearne (Ahearn after immigrating) was a triple jump specialist, winning eight U.S. AAU titles over nine years and setting a world record in 1909 with a 50-foot, two-inch jump. Dan competed in the 1920 Antwerp Olympics, finishing sixth in the triple jump. He later became a policeman and died Dec. 20, 1942, at the age of 54.

So, now the question is, what are the oldest cards you have in your collection?

Stay safe and healthy out there!


  1. For sports, my oldest is only 1954, a Bowman Duke Snider followed by some 57 Topps. For non-sport I do have some 1914-15 Sweet Caporal World War I cards. Really have been meaning to get more from that set...

  2. I am not sure as I haven't gone through all my cards and upload them to TCDB but I have some 1971 Topps football.

  3. 1909 T205 New York Giants near team set (missing five - yes, including Mathewson).

  4. I have a couple tobacco Dodgers from that tobacco set period. I always have trouble nailing down the exact date for those. 1908 or 1909 I guess. I probably should figure it out.

  5. I have one T206 card, of one Bill O'Hara of the Giants. (There's a variation where he's on the Cardinals, which is much rarer.) Other than that my collection pretty much only goes back to 1952. I've got some basketball and football cards from that era. My oldest hockey card is probably from around 1971.

  6. I think my oldest baseball cards are a pair of T206 Athletics and my oldest card period is a 1886 N17 Allen & Ginter Naval Flags card for my Japan PC.

  7. My oldest sports card is from the 1909 college sports series, West Point, which is local to me and a place I've visited. My oldest card is from 1887 and I gave two different sets from that year.

    1. I have two different, darn autocorrect. You can see it here:

  8. For the past few years I've been doing a "Time Travel" project where I keep trading cards for older cards. I don't really consider these cards part of my collection, but oldest cards I have are 1890 N245 Sweet Caporal Actors & Actresses #NNO Frankie Raymond(non-sport) and a 1937-38 Diamond Matchbooks Tan 6 #NNO Glenn Brydson (hockey). From my personal collection I have a 1955 Bowman card.

  9. Isn't it fun to figure out your oldest cards?
    GCA - That's impressive. Good luck tracking down the Matthewson
    Fuji - You certainly have me beat by a mile. I do have some of the 1939 Players Modern Naval Craft cards.
    Bill - I've been trying to track down some of those Murad track and field cards. I've been to the Air Force and Naval Academy, but yet have the opportunity to visit West Point, although I have served with a few officers who've graduated from West Point.
    Matt - If I could go back in time, your Time Travel project sounds like a lot of fun.

  10. The oldest Japanese cards in my collection are some generic player cards from the 1920's. My oldest card depicting an identified Japanese player is from 1947.

    But I have a couple US cards that are older - a T206 card of Jack Dunn and a T205 card of Arlie Latham, the Freshest Man On Earth.

    This would make a good "Blog Bat Around" topic

  11. I have a sumo menko set from 1901 as well as some sumo cards I believe are from the late 1800s, but I haven't been able to pinpoint an exact date yet. Cool cards for sure!

  12. I have a few of the 1930s Diamond Matchbook baseball "cards".