By Joe Orlando
E145 Cracker Jacks are the most popular caramel cards ever produced, bottom line. With pre-war prices surging, collectors are constantly looking for an edge or a reason to purchase a particular issue. When it comes to the Cracker Jack cards, collectors have seemingly avoided the challenge of the 1914's by focusing on the more attainable 1915 cards. In fact, it might be nearly impossible to complete a 1914 set even with unlimited funds. While there are certainly great reasons why people choose the 1915 cards, there are also great reasons to now consider the 1914 set as your set of choice. Let's take a look at some of the more compelling strengths behind this classic.
1914 Cracker Jacks
Pro – These cards are clearly tougher than the 1915 examples.
There is no question that the 1914 Cracker Jack cards are tougher to locate in high-grade and tougher to locate period. For this reason, more collectors prefer the 1915 Cracker Jacks; the 1914 card difficulty has actually kept collectors away historically. Due to a redemption plan (the set could be obtained from the manufacturer, even with an album) and a "find" several years ago, the 1915's are more abundant in volume and quality. That makes the 1914 set more desirable when it comes to rarity. In addition, the 1914 examples were printed on much thinner paper stock in comparison to the 1915 Cracker Jacks. This means the cards were less resilient to the elements, very few high-grade examples exist. The 1915 Cracker Jacks are by no means easy to find but the 1914 set has the edge here.
Pro - This set has variations of key cards and cards not featured in the 1915 set.
Some cards that appear in the 1914 set exhibit unique poses. For instance, the 1915 Cracker Jack Christy Mathewson card is a portrait but the 1914 version shows Mathewson pitching. If a high-grade example of this beautiful Mathewson example ever surfaced or became available, we would be reporting a record price after the sale. The 1915 portrait is stunning but you just never see the 1914 action shot. There is also a card of Frank Chance, a Hall of Famer, which only appears in the 1914 set. There are also a few other unique members featured in the set and collectors enjoy the variations.
Pro – Current market prices do not reflect the difficulty of the cards.
The 1914 Cracker Jacks may offer a stronger value at this point in the market. The sportscard market is continuing to mature and, as more collectors educate themselves, the demand for these cards should escalate, as should the values. Rarity plays a very significant role in card valuation. If the market truly reflected the disparity in difficulty, the pricing gaps between the two sets would be much greater, especially for certain examples. Not all collectors feel that rarity takes center stage but, for the ones that do, this set offers a tremendous level of difficulty.
In conclusion, both sets are terrific and offer great future potential. The selection of Hall of Fame players in each set is outstanding and the visual appeal is tremendous. You can't go wrong with either one. It will be interesting to see how each set performs over the coming years. Will the 1914 Cracker Jack rarity outweigh the overall selection of the 1915 set? Stay tuned.