In 1954, the Dan Dee company decided to issue baseball cards by including one card in packages of their potato chips. The set included some of the great stars in the game such as Mickey Mantle and Duke Snider. These large cards, measuring approximately 2-1/2" by 3-5/8", have a very attractive design. Each card offers a wonderful photo on the front with light, off-white colored borders used to frame the great shots. Just one problem... they put these cards in oily, greasy potato chip bags!
The Dan Dee baseball set is one of the most difficult and desirable regional sets in the hobby. The aforementioned packaging procedure makes it very difficult to find these cards in presentable condition, let alone high-grade. As you might imagine, the potato chips bags wreaked havoc on the edges, corners and surfaces of these great cards. If you are lucky enough to at least locate one of these Dan Dees in any grade, most of the time you will disappointed. Staining is most commonly found on the tips of the corners. This creates a real eyesore for potential buyers and an obstacle for those looking to assemble a high-grade set.
Another condition-related obstacle for the Dan Dees was the crude cutting process. Most of the Dan Dee edges are found with an almost "perforated" look to them. No need to worry though. This is simply how they were cut. Just like most cards produced during the 1950s, most of the Dan Dees have a "rough-cut" appearance. For aesthetic reasons, it is probably wise to buy Dan Dees that don't have an extremely rough appearance, even though they were "born" that way.
The borders and the picture quality are other problems that plague these cards. First, with regard to the borders, toning is certainly an issue. Dan Dees can be found with a wide range of tones to the borders. The borders range from an eggshell white to a yellow shade. To add insult to injury, because of the light color of the borders, the aforementioned potato chip grease sticks out like a sore thumb. Even the most minimal stain will diminish the eye appeal of the card.
The picture quality is also sometimes an issue. You will sometimes see that the Dan Dee pictures can range from bright and crisp to dull and blurred. When you are able to find a Dan Dee that possesses really nice picture quality, the card really stands out from average ones. As with the other condition keys to this issue, this is something to focus on if you are considering assembling a high-grade set.
The Dan Dees will always be in demand by collectors. In addition to the difficulty in finding these cards in top grades, there is one major reason: Mickey Mantle. Mantle was not featured in the 1954 Topps set, which is the most popular set for that year, so collectors have to look elsewhere to satisfy their Mantle needs. Bowman produced a Mantle card, but the set--as a whole--wasn't spectacular.
Red Heart Dog Food produced a very eye-appealing Mantle card, but not quite as appealing as the Dan Dee. In addition, the Dan Dee is far more scarce, which makes it extremely desirable. That leaves the Dan Dee as the most desirable Mantle card for 1954 and the entire set receives a boost from Mantle's popularity.