A great deal of planning goes into a hand-knotted rug before it even gets on the loom. First, of course, the basic design is agreed upon and colors that will be needed are selected. In our case the design will be based upon our Boston Garter Joe Wood art card. A true four-color is not possible with jacquard and so representational art, such as our Wood, is usually not attempted. With endless varieties of beautiful geometric designs readily available to the weavers that we will work with, there is usually little point in attempting to convey subjects as difficult as as subjective as the human face. However, this is Helmar and we always seem to be pushing the envelope.
Two issues are of immediate concern. In order to accomplish the intricate design that we’ve chosen it will be necessary for the weaver to make 300 hand-knots per inch when I can barely tie my shoe once. Secondly, a high quality hand-knotted rug will sometimes include up to a dozen different colors of yarn. Our piece, however, will have up to 25. The more colors that need to be integrated the more difficult the weaving. There’s no question; we’ll need an experienced artisan at the loom.
I’ll leave you with just one photo today–our yarn has already been dyed. Here is what it looks like:
Last year Mike Shannon, long-time envy of baseball writers everywhere, kindly agreed to write the backs of my Helmar “Game of the Century” series. What a great job he did! Mike used the “voice” of a 1930’s sportswriter when doing the compositions. I had to laugh the first time I read through his submissions… they were right on and were the perfect compliment to the art deco style portraits. Here is one example, front and back:
Mike is the forever editor of the magazine Spitball, which he founded back in 1981. If you are a baseball fan and have not subscribed you are missing the best value out there! Don’t bother with the one or two year offers; a lifetime subscription is only $125! Basically the same price as a cup of coffee at Starbucks.
Mike also wrote an article published in Sports Collectors Digest (June 4, 2018) about the series. You can access it here.
A few months ago I was reading up on the stunning medieval tapestries at the NY Met. How beautiful they are! The amount of clever designing, experimenting and yes, tedious work required is mind numbing. And, as usual, I found myself wondering about this process and how it could relate to baseball. There is not a deep textile tradition in sports art and little in the way of large scale imagery.
To make a long story short, I began to research the process in some depth. It was soon apparent that old style jacquard weaving is an art that has almost disappeared. These days if you want a rug or wall hanging it is nearly always made utilizing digital printing on artificial material. Some of it looks…okay. But the real thing? You’ll have to dig deep for a traditional supplier.
After a great deal of time I have found a maker of hand-knotted carpets and we have already started on our first collaboration. For the design I’ve selected one of my favorite Helmar art cards from the Boston Garter series, Joe Wood. Here is the image:
It takes a few months of hard work to make one of these. In my next post I’ll talk more about the process.
Just thinking of Mom today, on what would have been her 87th birthday. She was the perfect mom for a young card collector. I remember those summer afternoons when she would drive us around town, visiting corner party stores and looking for packs of cards from any series other than the one that was available close by. It was thrilling to find some out of the way place that had series that we had missed. A couple times we even found packs that were one or two years old. Mom was a big supporter of my card collecting even when I was old enough to have grown out of it. Thank you, Mom, and God Bless. Say hi to dad for me.
Collector Derrick Sanders’ favorite player is the flamboyant and aggressive Pepper Martin. Who can blame him? Pepper was a 5’8″, 170 pound ball of fire. Playing 16 seasons in the big leagues he had a lifetime average of .298. He led the National League in stolen bases three times and once led in runs.
Derrick has framed his Helmar Trolley card of Pepper along with sentiments from yours truly and Sanjay Verma, the painted the wonderful portrait on the card.
Here is a close-up of the card and a second image of a new Pepper Martin card from Helmar:
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:
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.
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.
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!
I will be making these available with back orders, too. In Helmar style they will be distressed. 5″ tall.
There is a second version, with Larry Lajoie, that I will try to post later.
I think you’ll really enjoy this issue, especially if you like Brooklyn baseball.
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:
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!
Longtime collector Steven P reports that he has sold the set that he was offering a couple weeks ago.
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:
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.
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!
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:
Helmar factoids about Del:
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.
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:
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:
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
They may not be baseball cards, but here are a few favorites that I thought you might like to see:
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.
No connection to sports but this is simply a great photo!
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:
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.
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.
As you have seen, we’ve been using a number of different backs on our series. Some backs will be found on players for all teams, others are specific to one team. Here are two examples of a special back that will be found on just New York Giant players. I think normally around 4 copies with this back are used with every player. Of course the backgrounds on the front, behind the player image, are almost always different. These two cards will be listed this coming Tuesday on eBay: