Near-complete set (8/10) of 1888 R.T.S Artistic Series baseball diecuts issued by Raphael Tuck & Sons of Germany. The uniforms of these colorful scrapbook diecuts represent baseball's major franchise cities of 1888. The teams represented are Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, New York, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh from the National League; and Baltimore, Brooklyn, and St. Louis from the American Association. This issue has, in the past, been identified as "R & S Artistic." The actual name of the set is "R.T.S. Artistic Series." The "RTS" company logo of Raphael Tuck & Son can easily be misinterpreted as reading "R & S," and this error was apparently made long ago and has been repeated countless times in publications over the years. REA offered a complete set in 2007 that was accompanied by a color copy of a complete set in its original uncut form as issued. The set was originally issued in sheet form, with players diecut but attached by easily separated tabs. The R.T.S. logo appears on one of the connecting tabs. Little else is known about exactly how these diecuts were distributed. It is believed they were sold for the express purpose of gluing into scrapbooks, which was a very popular pastime of the day. The Detroit and Baltimore examples have partially broken off at the base. Three of the cards (Boston, Indianapolis, and Philadelphia) are held together by white tape on the reverses, and would therefore grade Authentic. The remaining cards present very attractively from the fronts, but have small areas of scrapbook-related paper loss on the reverses (a very common occurrence with nineteenth-century cards in general, and especially diecuts) and would thus technically grade modestly. The eight cards remain an attractive near-complete set of these rare and very colorful nineteenth-century baseball diecut cards, which represent one of the most outstanding values of all nineteenth-century card issues. Total: 8 cards. Reserve $200. Estimate (open).
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