1916 M101-4 Sporting News/Furniture City Brewing Complete Set of 200 Uncut Sheet

Sold For: $14,100

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 478

Item Year: 1916

Category: Prewar Baseball Cards (1900-1941)

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Offered is an uncut sheet displaying a complete set of one of the most highly regarded and collected baseball-card sets of the era: the 1916 M101-4 set of 200 cards. This particular example, which is new to the hobby, is only the third uncut sheet of this extremely significant set to ever surface. Coincidentally, the two other known examples were also handled by Robert Edward Auctions. The first appeared as Lot 421 in our May 2004 auction and sold for $28,750. The second was offered as Lot 248 in our April 2005 auction and sold for $19,720.

The M101-4 set, which is highlighted by Babe Ruth, Joe Jackson, Honus Wagner, and Ty Cobb, includes all the top stars of the day. Hall of Famers and key stars that appear in the set include #4 Grover Alexander, #9 Frank Baker, #10 Dave Bancroft, #13 Chief Bender, #17 Mordecai Brown, #28 Max Carey, #32 Eddie Cicotte (Black Sox), #34 Eddie Collins, #36 Charles Comiskey, #38 Ty Cobb, #41 Sam Crawford, #54 Johnny Evers, #55 Urban Faber, #56 Hap Felsch (Black Sox), #64 Chic Gandil (Black Sox), #72 Clark Griffith, #84 Harry Hooper, #86 Miller Huggins, #87 Joe Jackson (Black Sox), #90 Hugh Jennings, #91 Walter Johnson, #97 Napoleon Lajoie, #107 Connie Mack, #112 Rabbit Maranville, #113 Rube Marquard, #116 John McGraw, #142 Eppa Rixey, #144 Wilbert Robinson, #146 Ed Roush, #151 Babe Ruth, #154 Ray Schalk, #164 George Sisler, #169 Casey Stengel, #174 Joe Tinker, #182 Honus Wagner, #184 Ed Walsh, #186 Buck Weaver (Black Sox), and #188 Zach Wheat. The M101-4 set is commonly referred to as issued by Sporting News , but as most collectors know, the set was actually issued by many different companies, including Sporting News . Some of those regional issuers placed their advertising on the reverse of the cards, others left the backs blank. Collectors traditionally refer to blank-backed examples as Sporting News , though it is not possible to identify with certainty the issuer of the blank-backed cards.

The offered set of 200 cards in original uncut form features advertising on the extra large bottom margin for the Furniture City Brewing Company and its line of Amber Brew ("You Make No Error If You Drink AMBER BREW It Always Makes A Hit.") This sheet makes for an especially impressive display, as the extra large margin at top provides the title and year of issue of the set, "1916 - Baseball's Hall of Fame - 1916." In this case, the reference to "Baseball's Hall of Fame" is not Cooperstown, which was not established until 1936, but is rather a general term in use at this time referring to baseball's greatest players. This term ("Baseball's Hall of Fame") appears as the title of the set in the printed text on the reverse of some M101-4 regional issues, as well as on the reverse of the very closely related 200-card 1917 E135 Collins-McCarthy set (which was also issued with a variety of different advertising reverses and was apparently produced by the very same printer). In the lower left corner of the sheet is the printer's credit, which reads, "Published by Felix Mendelsohn, Peoples Gas Bldg., Chicago." Apparently the extra text above and below the cards was added by the printer so that a number of uncut sheets could be used, if desired, for display at the Furniture City Brewing Company, or, more likely, for use as advertising displays in bars. Unfortunately, we will never know for certain whether any uncut sheets were ever displayed either at the Furniture City Brewing Company or at retail establishments. The offered sheet was just recently discovered in the home of a noncollector living in Canton, Michigan, which is not surprising, given the fact the Furniture City Brewing Company was located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The stock of the cards on the sheet is the same sturdy card stock on which all M101-4 cards are printed. The backs, like most M101-4 cards, are blank.

Very few sheets of baseball cards have survived from the teens or before. The number of known sheets (or even partial sheets) from this era can literally be counted on one hand. This M101-4 sheet of 200 cards is both the largest and most substantial of all of the very few surviving uncut sheets of baseball cards from this era. The fact that it is such a key set of the era, and one of the very few sets which includes virtually all Major League players of the day, make this one of the most significant of all uncut baseball-card sheets. The set alone lists in the Standard Catalogue at $60,000 in Nr/Mt condition. High-grade examples of the individual cards routinely sell at far higher levels. For example, the SMR for #151 Ruth in PSA 7 NM is $85,000. The SMR for #87 Jackson in PSA 7 NM is $17,500. Of course, there has never been a formula for determining the value of uncut sheets. Large sheets naturally have many opportunities for imperfections, and this example is no exception. According to our consignor, this sheet, which remains in its original wood frame, has been in the family since its time of issue. Unfortunately, they never realized its rarity or significance, and its method of storage was less than ideal. For years it remained uncovered in the basement, where it was subjected to moderate water damage, particularly along the left, right, and bottom borders. The sheet is moderately warped and also displays light toning and surface wear, including a number of minor abrasions. Among the cards most noticeably affected by the water staining are Ruth, Wagner, Walsh, Weaver, Wheat, Wood, and Tinker. A large surface abrasion near the center of the sheet affects the card of Harry Hooper and a smaller abrasion touches upon the card of Miller Huggins. A 2.5-inch diagonal surface tear (no paper loss) touches upon the cards of Milton Stock, Amos Strunk, and Billy Sullivan. There is also a small tear in the lower left corner. Although the sheet is technically in Good condition, only about 35% of the cards are significantly affected by the noted flaws and the remainder display as Excellent. This sheet is a prime candidate for restoration. At the very least the sheet could be flattened and most of the surface area could be cleaned, giving it a much brighter appearance. This is an extremely impressive display piece, featuring 200 cards, representing a complete set of one of the most important baseball-card issues of the era. The sheet measures 41 x 27 inches and is framed to total dimensions of 45 x 31 inches. Reserve $5,000. Estimate $10,000+. SOLD FOR $14,100

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