Extremely rare 1923-1924 Tomás Gutiérrez tobacco card of Hall of Famer Cristobal Torriente, with a blank back. Tomás Gutiérrez cards are among the rarest of all tobacco issues. This 85-card set is the largest of the Cuban baseball-card issues of the 1920s, and also one of the most popular. The cards were issued in Havana, Cuba, over a two-year span, from 1923 to 1924, for the Diaz Cigarettes brand. Offered is one of the key highlight players from this rare set, and one of only several examples known to exist of Cristobal Torriente. It is interesting to note that the set features two different cards of Torriente; one features him as a member of the "Habana B.B.C." and the other (as offered here) features him as a member of the "Marianao B.B.C." The photograph used on the card is unique to this issue. The fact that Torriente switched teams at some point during the 1923-1924 seasons explains why he is represented in the set twice and featured with two different teams. The cards from this set have advertising on the backs, but it is unknown why Torriente's card with Mariano B.B.C. has a blank back. As per Cuban card expert Ryan Christoff in an article in Old Cardboard Magazine
, "The Marianao Torriente card has also been seen in a blank back version although it is unclear how or why it was produced, and whether or not it is a legitimate card." At first, we suspected that maybe this card was cut from the album issued to house the set (which pictures the cards), especially since upon close examination we can detect a very slight irregular cut. However, looking at the album (we have images of the album page featuring the Torriente card), the card image on the album page does not have the team name at top, whereas the card presented here reads "Mariano B. B. C." along the top border, in the same manner as appears on the normally seen version of this card with advertising reverse (and with team name reading "Habana B.B.C." at top). We're not sure what the explanation is for this card! But we've got it here, it certainly does exist, and we're not sure what the reason is for its different pose, team name, and blank back, although it is clearly related to Torriente's switching teams mid-season. Whatever the explanation, this is a very interesting card and one that potentially has great appeal, especially to Hall of Fame collectors. Perfectly clean front and back, with light wear on the corners, no creases, and flawless picture quality. Encapsulated as Authentic by SGC due to a slightly irregular cut, it otherwise has an Excellent appearance. Reserve $200. Estimate (open).
SOLD FOR $5,036
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