This blog is about vintage and hand-made baseball cards, art, brewing and cigars, history and anything interesting that I think should be passed along. Come often, you are welcome!
Charles has written 128 posts for helmarblog

An Oldie but Goodie

Paul Conan, a relative of 19th century Hall of Famer Jim “Orator” O’Rourke, asks that I post of photo of the Helmar card of Jim O’Rourke from the long-retired Heroes of the Polo Grounds series. Here it is, Paul.

Jim had a 19 year career playing catcher, first base and the outfield. His lifetime batting average was .310. His .347 mark while playing for the Buffalo Bisons was good enough to win the 1884 batting title. Belated congratulations, Jim!

O’Rourke also appears in the Helmar Polar Night series as card number 50. The first copy brought $461 in an April, 2017 auction. Here is an image of that card:



Meet Me in Cleveland April 8th!

Helmar’s Baseball Cards and Art Opening Day

April 8 @ 10:00 am2:00 pm
League Park, 6601 Lexington Ave
Cleveland, 44103
+ Google Map

They look like classic old baseball cards of the past – like Goudeys and Cracker Jacks and T206 tobacco cards. They are based on beautiful original artwork done by highly talented contemporary artists. They are handmade from top quality card stock and other intriguing materials and intentionally distressed so that they appeal to true collectors and not to wheeler-dealers interested only in their money-making potential. They are produced in extremely low quantities and not released in sets so that collecting them is a worthy challenge.The stunning cards we are talking about are produced by a small Michigan outfit called the Helmar Brewing Co., which is owned and run by Charles Mandel. Mandel is a visionary, an unrecognized genius and quite possibly the most important person in the baseball card hobby known by the fewest collectors. On display through May 27th.

John Metz and his Pirates!

Longtime collector John Metz was kind enough to send along a couple photos of Helmar items that he’s framed. The first item is a Lloyd Waner display where John has used an Imperial Cabinet and a smaller Helmar-R318 die cut of the great Pittsburgh outfielder. Very nice! The second piece that John has framed is the very large Pittsburgh Pirate display that we did with Let’s Play Two Collectibles.

Thanks for sharing, John!

If you would like to share photos of your displays please contact us.

Framed Lloyd Waner Helmar display


Helmar Pittsburgh Pirates display

We Enter the Amazon

Decided to market Baseball History & Art on Amazon. What can go wrong? Three issues are now available there, each come with one of the special art cards that I’ve written about in this space. If you have time, please take a moment and give us a review. It looks a bit bare without at least a couple!

Winter, 2015 Baseball History & Art Magazine

page1 2015 Baseball History & Art Magazine


Baseball History & Art Premium Revealed!

I will be making these available with back orders, too. In Helmar style they will be distressed. 5″ tall.


back 027 detroit 2btes stent

Christy Mathewson art magazine

Christy Mathewson art magazine

Baseball History



And another back; this time with Larry Lajoie

back 027 detroit 2ab ready

Helmar-T206 card back of Ty Cobb

There is a second version, with Larry Lajoie, that I will try to post later.


T206, Helmar, Ty Cobb

T206, Helmar, Ty Cobb

Hughie Jennings advertisement

I finished this advertisement featuring good old Hughie Jennings today. I love Hughie. That green was used on many vintage ads and it reminds me of the famous T206 series. By the way, the advertisement is for Helmar T330 Art Stamps. There are 200 in the series and they really did turn out great. If you read the ad, you’ll see who to contact for them.

For Helmar-T330 Art Stamps

For Helmar-T330 Art Stamps

Already working on the next one…

The Spring cover may have a special card that folds up into a standing display. If it works….

Anyway, here is a mock up of the next issue’s cover:

Baseball History & Art

Baseball History & Art

3 Finger Brown leads the Way

The latest issue of Baseball History & Art focuses on Brooklyn baseball and some of the most beloved players of the early decades. There is also a bit about Charles Ebbetts, builder of Ebbetts Field. Imagine, he started selling scorecards for the team in 1880 and ended up owning the team! That “can-do” attitude is one of the things that I most admire about both baseball and America in those earlier days. I suppose even now there are success stories like his; it’s just that they seem much less frequent. Maybe not, but there does seem, to me, to be one big difference. Fortunes today seem to be built overnight. Some manage it by creating a software app that will be forgotten in less ten years, some do it by scams, some do it by getting fat contracts through politicians that they seem to have paid off. How often do we hear of modern fortunes being built up slowly, over a lifetime, such as Charles Ebbetts accomplished? More important than Mr. Ebbett’s wallet is the fact that he really built up an institution (the Dodgers) that will last a long, long time. I suspect Ebbetts would be more proud of the Dodger legacy than any of the money that he made.

Anyway, here is the latest cover:


Winter issue of Baseball History & Art is ready!

I think you’ll really enjoy this issue, especially if you like Brooklyn baseball.

WIP sm

It’s here! Helmar’s Baseball History & Art magazine Inaugural issue!

front page ad 2 flatClick the magazine for details!

The inaugural issue of Baseball History & Art is now available! Seventy-six full color, beautiful pages of baseball history with vintage Helmar-style art. Printed on thick, wonderful paper! 8.5″ x 11″, 76 pages.

If you want to learn the stories behind the player’s names, along with great art, this is the magazine for you.

This INAUGURAL issue includes:

  • TY COBB die-cut, 7.5″ dia. portrait insert in the style of the popular circa 1911 “Fan for a Fan”.
  • “Players We Ought to Know” features stories behind history’s most interesting players
  • “Black Stars Exhibit” brings great art and bios of some of baseball’s best blackball era stars
  • “Boneyards” feature on Forbes Field, Honus Wagner and the history of that great, lost ball field. Written by Mark Schraf.
  • “Finding Home”, in which author Steve Hermanos tracks down and visits the apartment Christy Mathewson and J.J. McGraw shared in 1903. It is still there!
  • “Ticket Stub” feature examines how a no-name rookie beat Bob Feller for the pennant. Written by Dennis Snelling.
  • An insightful interview with Marty Appel about Mickey Mantle and the boys as he knew them.
  • An examination and discussion of the many Helmar-T206 card backs. There’s more involved in those beauties than one might expect!
  • Auction results of Helmar cards in graph form
  • “The Lucky Man,” an interview with super-collector Jerry Bradley
  • Mike Shannon, editor of Baseball History & Art, puts the hobby in review in a thoughtful book review

This magazine is about BOTH baseball history and collecting. It will be published on a quarterly basis…this listing is for ONLY the first issue. You will love it!

Complete set of Helmar 6-Up Die-Cuts Sells

Longtime collector Steven P reports that he has sold the set that he was offering a couple weeks ago.

Helmar 6-Up Die Cuts: A Full Set of 77 For Sale

Dedicated collector Steve Patterson has completed the 77 card series of Helmar Die Cuts. He is offering it for sale; you can contact him below. Previously Steve completed and sold a complete set of the E145-Helmar cards. Congratulations, Steve!  or call Steve at 319 572 0393

With images of six players inset.

With images of six players inset.

Okay, A Few More From eBay

Finds from third party sellers. The first photo is for an auction that has the first four Helmar sets, I’ve never seen that before. Click to go to the auction:

Box from Series II Helmar

Box from Series II Helmar

Moe Berg Silk Banner

Helmar Brewing Babe Ruth beer carrier

Helmar Brewing Babe Ruth beer carrier

George Stoval Helmar lock

George Stoval Helmar lock

3rd Party Helmar Items Currently on eBay: some interesting stuff!

Once in a while I do like to check eBay to see what old Helmar items resurface. Here are a few of my current eBay favorites:

Helmar Polo Grounds

A nice grouping and a springboard to collecting the full series. Most individual cards had only 2-3 made! No one has a complete run of 66, as far as I know.

I think just 3 were made.

   I think just 3 of these padlocks of Jud Wilson were made.


Joe Tinker Cigar Band, I like it.

Just a heads-up for you Tinker fans. Saw this on eBay and think that it is interesting for the price. Click the photo to go to the auction.

Joe Tinker Cigar Band

Joe Tinker Cigar Band

How Old is the Game of Baseball?

Here’s an interesting manuscript illumination, now at the Walters Museum. Possibly made for John III, Lord of Ghistelles and Ingelmunster, (d. 1315). Ingelmunster is in the Belgian province of West Flanders. That bat certainly has a similar shape to the one that we are familiar with!

early baseball


Eagle-Eyed Jed Silver and Del Bissonette

No, Jed Silver was not a reserve center fielder for the 1913 Sioux Falls team. Jed is alive and well, a Helmar collector with an eye for detail. Recently Jed called me out on our cabinet cards of Del Bissonette, the superb but unfortunate Brooklyn first baseman with a lifetime .305 average. Both our cabinet cards (from the Imperial Cabinet series & the Prominent Newsmakers series) depict a head shot of Bissonette wearing a “NY” cap.

For some reason I had assumed that at some point Bissonette had been a member of the New York Giants. Wrong! Jed correctly pointed out that Bissonette spent every minute of his Big League career with Brooklyn. Why then, the “NY” cap? It took a little digging but it turns out that in 1921, very early in Del’s career, he was under contract to a Yankee affiliate. Mystery solved.

Little things like this make collecting baseball history fun and even exciting. This gave me an excuse to delve calf deep into the career of one of the more interesting players of the late ’20’s-early ’30’s.

Here are a few factoids about Del:

  • led the majors in games played as a 28 year old rookie in 1928.
  • More homers (25) than any other Brooklyn franchise rookie ever.
  • While his career only lasted five Big League seasons, he turned in two outstanding seasons. In 1928 he batted .32o; his 1930 mark was .336
  • 25 years separated his first minor league season from his last (1949)
  • Managed the 1945 Boston Braves for part of the year. Managed extensively in the minor leagues.
  • Apparently shot himself in the stomach in a Maine apple orchard. Died a week later (1972).

Helmar factoids about Del:

  • Average sale price of his Prominent Newsmakers cabinet: $15.99 (population of 12)
  • Average sale price of his Imperial Cabinet: $21.99 (population of 6)
Del Bissonette, from the popular Helmar Imperial Cabinet series.

Del Bissonette, from the popular Helmar Imperial Cabinet series.

Things that I like: George Carlidge Photographic Tiles

I won’t give a long description but I do like these “photographic” tiles. The process was developed by Mr. Carlidge during his long relationship with the Sherwin & Cotton company (1882-1911). From what I’ve read, the entirety of the process has been lost.  We know, however, that he prepared a silver based gel that would be applied to a ceramic tile. The rough image appeared after exposure to a photo negative. From there certain light values were removed from the surface of the tile, leaving a thin relief. The translucent glazes, considered revolutionary at the time, furthered the effect. They are quite collectible now.

tile 1 tile 1a tile 1ab tile 2 tile 3

E145-Helmar Full Series on eBay

The ever diligent Steven P. from West Burlington, Iowa, has placed his FULL SET of Helmar’s E145 red background cards on eBay. It was fun corresponding with Steven over an 18 month period as he put the set together. Here is the link and a photo:

Click here

E145-Helmar Set



1912 Baseball Comic…Newfangled Sunglasses in the Ballpark!

1912 Baseball Comic...Newfangled Sunglasses in the Ballpark!

Okay! Another Sneak Auction!

While you weren’t looking I loaded an auction last evening that ends in just three days–this coming Sunday, Dec. 22. Seeing how it is Christmas, I loaded the auction with all kinds of extra goodies. Why not check it out? While I was at it, I boosted next Tuesday evening’s auction with additional items. Together this makes for the biggest auction one-two punch of the year! Here are some photos of cards selling on those two nights:

13 12 14 210 13 12 14 274 13 12 14 328a 13 12 14 358 13 12 14 372 13 12 14 373 13 12 14 374 13 12 14 379 13 12 14 380 13 12 14 381


Thanksgiving Secret Recipes

Came across a small cookbook from a kindergarten class. Here are my favorites:

How to Cook a Turkey

Cut it and put it in the oven for 15 minutes at 4 degrees. Take it out and eat it. –Alex

Paint it with paint. Then it dries. Cook it at the table for 15 minutes, then eat it. –Timmy

First you kill it. Then you cut it. Then you put it in the oven for 10 seconds at 10 degrees. Then you eat it. –Brennan

How to Make Stuffing

Put in cookies, cake and macaroni and cheese. Mix together and put in the turkey. –Gena

Put salt, pepperoni and macaroni in the turkey. Cook it for 25 minutes -Elizabeth

Put bones in it. Then you pull the bones out. Then you break them and give them to your dog. Then you eat it. -Brad

You stuff the stuffing up it. Put in salt and pepper, then put in chopped bunny ears. -Brennan

Mix hot dogs, jello and milk. Put it in the turkey. -Chelsea

Helmar in the McFarland Hall of Fame

Jim McFarland of Florida has a great day career, more on that another time. His evenings, though, are filled with his other passion–as the curator of his own personal Hall of Fame. Jim’s grandfather, a past part-owner of the Cincinnati Reds, shared a portion of his personal mementos with Jim, who has collected ever since. Recently Jim sent photos of his mouth-watering displays of cards and memorabilia and I would like to share them with you. Note the Helmar cards (Jim is a big fan) mixed in with his other favorites such as a T206 Cobb. Thanks for the photos, Jim!   (click to enlarge)

imagejpeg_0 imagejpeg_1 imagejpeg_2 imagejpeg_4

Great Old Cards, Some of my Favorites

They may not be baseball cards, but here are a few favorites that I thought you might like to see:

Love the colors.

Love the colors.


Robert Edward Auctions: Helmar Modern Classics

A Helmar collector has consigned a dozen lots to the prestigious fall Robert Edwards Auction. If you are a Helmar collector you may want to follow the progress of these lots. This represents the first time that a major auction house, probably the major auction house, has handled the Helmar art cards that we all enjoy. We are excited that our products will be introduced to thousands of potential collectors.

They have even blogged about the Helmar lots and you will find what they have to interesting! Click on the image of the catalog to see all the other great memorabilia that is available through the auction.


Vintage London Bus

No connection to sports but this is simply a great photo!


Jack Johnson Card Illustrates News Article

Our 2005 card of Jack was used in this article for a Redding, California paper. Bill Wagner has written some fine articles over the year, you might like to check out this Q & A column from Bill:

Jack Johnson Q & A

trolly card front  master sheet 2

Team Display Introduction: Brooklyn Superbas!

The links will take you directly to the eBay auction (from another seller). Seller supplied details underneath photos. Or call Greg at +1.703.888.8311 if you are interested in a complete set. 

*Remember, to receive a 10% discount through eBay or by direct call use the secret code “Cobb“.

Doing the Brooklyn team display was a great time. The background was taken from a late 19th century poster and made a perfect backdrop for the player portraits. Everyone loves the old Brooklyn uniforms and we have two different versions appearing. Plus, this display has some of my favorite players-Zack Wheat, Nap Rucker, Edgar Lennox and Wild Bill Dahlen.

Superbas_front_with_cutting_guides set up Brooklyn reverse 22 x 18 no shadows super2 super3 super1

Each team portrait is an impressive 18.5” in height by 22’’ in length and modeled after Helmar Brewing’s ever-popular 6-Up Die Cut Series.  Each portrait is hand crafted using a proprietary process, which creates a finished piece that is substantial, measuring approximately .25 inches thick using 8 layers of construction.


The obverse of the portrait comprises a period-relevant background meaningful to the team’s home city and three rows of individual oval-shaped player portraits (totaling 19 players), each measuring approximately 2.5” in height and 2” in width.  Featured Red Sox player portraits include: Speaker, Stahl, Hooper, Wood, Cicotte, Carrigan, and Chesbro. The player portraits are recessed (die cut) and outlined beautifully with Gold Borders.  The official team name – Boston Red Sox – is shown at the top and the name of it home field – Fenway Park – is shown at the bottom.  Sometimes baseballs are positioned next to the team name and/or field name.  See pictures.


The reverse of each team portrait includes the team’s 1910 schedule with results (won/loss/tied and score) on the right side as well as picture of Helmar Brewing’s BIG LEAGUE BrewTM with a Christy Mathewson label on the left side.  See pictures.


Each team portrait is a distinctive creation using new designs from Helmar Brewing; individual player portraits are reminiscent of old T205 and T206 tobacco cards.  All the baseball greats from yesteryear from Cobb to Jackson to Johnson to Mathewson to Wagner to Young are in this series.


Paper stock consistent with the early 20th century is used to fashion each portrait.  The portrait is then antiqued and mildly distressed to give it the traditional Helmar Brewing worn, well-loved look. You will feel as if you are holding a vintage portrait in your hands.  Because each portrait is hand crafted, no two portraits look exactly the same.  Finally, each portrait is hand numbered.


Teams can be purchased individually or as a complete set.  Ten (10) complete matching-numbered sets are being held in reserve for set collectors, which is a first for a Helmar Brewing endeavor.


There are 14 team portraits total, 7 each from the American and National Leagues:


American League Teams                                              National League Teams


Boston Red Sox                                                           Boston Doves


Chicago White Sox                                                       Brooklyn Superbas     


Cleveland Naps                                                            Chicago Cubs


Detroit Tigers                                                               New York Giants


New York Highlanders                                                  Philadelphia Phillies


Philadelphia Athletics                                                  Pittsburgh Pirates


Washington Senators                                                   St. Louis Cardinals




The entire series took well over a year to conceive and produce.


Get your team portrait now!!  Price is a very reasonable $225.00per portrait, plus $20 for shipping.


These portraits are available only through Let’s Play Two Collectiblesand are extremely limited with only 20 portraits per team.  These portraits will not be offered again.  Once they are gone, they are gone.  Call Let’s Play Two Collectiblesat +1.703.888.8311if you are interested in a complete set.