This category contains 62 posts

A perfect baseball card mother

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. 20150421_220841S/W Ver: 96.B0.0AR

Pepper Martin has a big fan!

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:

Helmar_Trolley_Card_22_Front (2)martin sm20170920_173311_1505947376835 sm

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



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

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.

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

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

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.


T206-Helmar: Mixed Pickles

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:

2013-9-17 039a 2013-9-17 040a

Next Week’s Picks: Three of My Favorites

2013-9-10 209d

2013-9-10 209a

2013-9-10 163 4

Respect from the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art

Selected works from the Jefferson R. Burdick Collection are now on display through December 1st. The exhibit is called “Legends of the Deadball Era” and displays 600 early tobacco cards.

This New York Times article says it better than I can, read about the exhibit HERE.

Another article about the fascinating father of collecting, Jefferson Burdick.


Best Baseball Graphic Novel: Hutch

Fred Hutchinson, at least to me, was largely a mystery. Like most fans I knew that he was a pretty good pitcher, a manager, that he died early from cancer and that there is an annual award named in his honor. Thanks to this new work by Mike Shannon and Scott Hannig, Fred’s very full life and the reason that he was so important, respected and celebrated has come to life.

Hutch: Baseball’s Fred Hutchinson and a Legacy of Courage is a comprehensive graphic novel detailing Fred’s life through triumph and tragedy.The graphic novel format dictates that the prose is concise and insightful. It is never boring. The artwork is remarkable and kept me interested, flipping pages in a way that traditional novels seldom manage to do.

Writer Mike Shannon and artist Scott Hannig had to work closely together over the course of two years in order to weave the story line through over 800 illustrations and 224 pages. The result is it’s own triumph and one that you will enjoy sharing. It deserves a choice spot in your library.

Author Shannon is now shipping signed copies. Send a check or money order for only $28.00 directly to him at:

Mike Shannon, 5560 Fox Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45239.


Retirement Party: Heroes of the Polo Grounds

This Helmar series is now retired! Do you have any? Clicking on the diamond will enable you to receive the checklist via email.

The Polo Grounds series, sold from August of 2010 through January, 2013, consists of die-cut portraits against a colorful image of the old Polo Grounds. There are 65 different cards. While most of the cards are single player, four cards have six players each arranged on them. These six player cards are also considered part of the Helmar 6-Up series and a few more will be issued as part of that set.

Some perspective: Only 149 of the single player cards were ever offered at auction, with each selling for an average price of $25.49. For less than $3,500 one could have purchased every card ever made. One complete set has been saved for the “Helmar Archives”.


 Heroes of the Polo Grounds Master Checklist.  The most complete series ever on thesubject. Series now retired.

29 die cut back mcgraw