1911 T3 Turkey Red Cabinets

The American Tobacco Company introduced T3 Turkey Red baseball cabinet cards in 1910. The set consists of 100 baseball designs. (Card #s 51-76 featuring pictures of boxers and are identified as a separate T9 set). Each T3 masterpiece bears a colorful and highly detailed player depiction on large, thick cardstock measuring 5-3/4” x 8”. A larger border area is reminiscent of a picture frame with the player identified at the lower edge. The cabinet cards were designed for “preferred” tobacco customers and available as premiums in exchange for coupons from three companies: Turkey Red Cigarettes, Old Mill Cigarettes, or Fez Cigarettes. Most of the era's top stars are represented in the issue, including a plethora of Hall of Famers including Mordecai Brown (#1), Ty Cobb (#9), Nap Lajoie (#23), Tris Speaker (#36), Cy Young (#42), Frank “Home Run” Baker (#78), Walter Johnson (#99). Also available were a number of generic scenes revealing ballplayers in glorified "action" scenes - titles like "Out At Third" (#43) and "Trying To Catch Him Napping” (#44). Minor stars round out the set. Roughly the same number of each Turkey Red subject was printed, most early 20th century collectors preserved stars rather than commons.

The production, issued in two series, holds several minor variations that affect their players' name or team captions, but none are regarded as major scarcities. T3s vary in difficulty based on the five different designs of their backs, which most often carry one of three different checklists, plus details that inform the reader about the promotion while acquainting them with acquiring cards. However, a portion of T3s from the second half of the series feature a decorative and appealing advertisement with no checklist or text accompanying for Turkey Red Cigarettes. These are scarcer than the standard backs and merit a premium in terms of interest and value. A third back style from T3's first half provides only a list of subjects and leaves blank the area allowed for descriptive information in the standard examples. The "No Offer Text" varieties are seldom found. Because of their large size, careful storage and preservation were problematic, and high-grade examples are quite difficult to find. Regardless, the T3 Turkey Red baseball cards are considered by many to be the most beautiful sportscard issue ever created.
 

Visually captivating though they were, the turn-of-the-century's small-sized tobacco cards left collectors anxious for more. Initially conceived by the manufacturer as "throw-away" pieces that would hold the buyer's attention for just a moment (long enough for quick notice of its ballplayer illustration, and for exposure to its back-printed advertising), baseball cards quickly became appreciated on a higher level. Smokers - many of whom had shown no prior inclination to "collect" anything - became enamored with the sublime little pieces in greater numbers than could have been expected. These people turned into the dedicated collectors of their time.

The marketing folks at the American Tobacco Company's Group of brands looked for a means to provide a suitable gesture to positively address the new-found propensity for collecting among its clientele. To that end, and to acknowledge the trend toward brand loyalty that had been reinforced by the cards' success, the amazing "Turkey Red" cabinet cards were introduced in 1910.

The Turkey Red cards, named after one of ATC's brands and eventually termed "T3" in The American Card Catalog, were unlike any baseball card production that had come before. The pieces utilized superbly well-detailed, lithographed player illustrations rendered in the purest colors and centered these on gigantic 5 ¾" by 8" thick cardstock pieces. Each one was a masterpiece, worthy of stand-alone display or as a component of an impressive gallery of the items. The visually inspiring effect of T3's (individual or aggregate) aesthetic properties simply cannot be overstated.

Obviously, something as supreme as a Turkey Red cabinet couldn't be distributed in a routine manner; these were for "preferred customers." To be sure that the appropriate consumers were being rewarded for their purchases, ATC offered the cards through a mail-away, couponbased promotion commencing in 1910 and extended through June, 1911. Ten coupons from the Turkey Red brand - or 25 from the (presumably cheaper) Old Mill or Fez packages - entitled the sender to choose a T3 from a checklist of 125 different depictions. (The series of 125 harbored 100 baseball designs, with the others - inclusive numbers 51 through 76 featuring pictures of boxers. The latter are seen as comprising a separate and distinct entity - T9.) In addition to their undeniable physical glamour, T3s were significant as the first interactive production of its day. Buyers, for the first time in a generation, were given the option to select particular subjects for their collections. An enthusiast could assemble his holdings of favorite teams, particularly admired players, or entire leagues in a deliberate manner according to taste. In retrospect, it can be seen that ATC was quite clever to recognize the marketing value inherent in this sort of cooperation with its clients' wishes.

Composition - The T3 cards were designed with high-profile display in mind. Their images were breathtaking, and constituted sights that were ideal for sharing with a fan's like-minded acquaintances; the cards' physical size abetted this notion. Consistent with the collectibles' flamboyant appearance was their seriousness of content. Virtually all of the era's top stars are represented in the issue, with each one seen in a highly flattering portrayal. Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Mordecai Brown, Cy Young, Home Run Baker - these are just a few of the luminaries that could be had for a handful of coupons.

Also available were a number of generic scenes revealing ballplayers in glorified "action" scenes. Titles like #43's "Out At Third" and #44's "Trying To Catch Him Napping" must have been tempting selections for those coupon-holders who'd already captured their biggest-name favorites. Finally, various minor stars rounded out the set's total of 100 entries.

Key Features and Rarities - It is likely that roughly the same quantity of each Turkey Red subject was originally printed. But, in an odd twist of distribution, the most important players are more often seen in later years. This is because, logically, many people selected and ordered, for example, Mathewson and Speaker, while far fewer made the effort to specifically acquire, say, Bridwell and Groom.

The production holds several minor variations (affecting their players' name or team captions) but none of these are regarded as major scarcities. In reality, T3s vary in difficulty based on the designs of their backs.

T3 cardbacks, most often, carry one of three different checklists, plus details that inform the reader about the promotion while acquainting them with the means to select and acquire cards. However, a portion of T3s from the second half of the series feature a decorative and appealing advertisement with no checklist or text accompanying for Turkey Red Cigarettes. These are scarcer than the standard backs and merit a premium in terms of interest and value. A third back style (this one from T3's first half) provides only a list of subjects and leaves blank the area allowed for descriptive information in the standard examples. The "No Offer Text" varieties are seldom seen, and are considered quite challenging.

Bottom Line - The T3 set, arguably for the first time in the hobby's history, gave credence to the association of the word "magnificence" with trading cards. Those fabulous, high-quality collectibles carried the most formidable visual impact of any baseball relic produced to that point - and, perhaps since. Far from casual keepsakes, T3s' spellbinding manner of presentation started to bring about an elevated perception of the entire genre. In this special, early instance, a manufacturer's willingness to acknowledge and capitalize on the beauty of its cards worked to please the producer and buyers alike. And the modern hobby is yet another beneficiary nearly a century later.

SET LIST

# CARD NAME
1 Mordecai Brown (Checklist Back)
2 Bill Bergen (Checklist Back)
3 Tommy Leach (Checklist Back)
4 Roger Bresnahan (Checklist Back)
5 Sam Crawford (Checklist Back)
6 Hal Chase (Checklist Back)
7 Howie Camnitz (Checklist Back)
8 Fred Clarke (Checklist Back)
9 Ty Cobb (Checklist Back)
10 Art Devlin (Checklist Back)
11 Bill Dahlen (Checklist Back)
12 Wild Bill Donovan (Checklist Back)
13 Larry Doyle (Checklist Back)
14 Red Dooin (Checklist Back)
15 Kid Elberfeld (Checklist Back)
16 Johnny Evers (Checklist Back)
17 Clark Griffith (Checklist Back)
18 Hughie Jennings (Checklist Back)
19 Addie Joss (Checklist Back)
20 Tim Jordan (Checklist Back)
21 Red Kleinow (Checklist Back)
22 Harry Krause (Checklist Back)
23 Nap Lajoie (Checklist Back)
24 Mike Mitchell (Checklist Back)
25 Matty McIntyre (Checklist Back)
26 John McGraw (Checklist Back)
27 Christy Mathewson (Checklist Back)
28a Harry McIntyre (Checklist-Brooklyn)
28b Harry McIntyre (Checklist-Brklyn & Chi.)
29 Amby McConnell (Checklist Back)
30 George Mullin (Checklist Back)
31 Sherry Magee (Checklist Back)
32 Orval Overall (Checklist Back)
33 Jake Pfeister (Checklist Back )
34 Nap Rucker (Checklist Back)
35 Joe Tinker (Checklist Back)
36 Tris Speaker (Checklist Back)
37 Slim Sallee (Checklist Back)
38 Jake Stahl (Checklist Back)
39 Rube Waddell (Checklist Back)
40 Vic Willis (Checklist-Pitt.& Stl.)
41 Hooks Wiltse (Checklist Back)
42 Cy Young (Checklist Back)
43 Out At Third (Checklist Back)
44 Trying To Catch... (Checklist Back)
45 Jordan & Herzog At First (Checklist Back)
46 Safe At Third (Checklist Back)
47 Frank Chance (Checklist Back)
48 Jack Murray (Checklist Back)
49 A Close Play At 2nd (Checklist Back)
50 Chief Myers At Bat (Checklist Back)
77 Red Ames (Checklist Back)
77 Red Ames (Turkey Red Back)
78 Home Run Baker (Checklist Back)
78 Home Run Baker (Turkey Red Back)
79 George Bell (Checklist Back)
80 Chief Bender (Checklist Back)
80 Chief Bender (Turkey Red Back)
81 Bob Bescher (Checklist Back)
81 Bob Bescher (Turkey Red Back)
82 Kitty Bransfield (Checklist Back)
82 Kitty Bransfield (Turkey Red Back)
83 Al Bridwell (Checklist Back)
83 Al Bridwell (Turkey Red Back)
84 George Browne (Checklist Back)
85 Bill Burns (Checklist Back)
86 Bill Carrigan (Checklist Back)
86 Bill Carrigan (Turkey Red Back)
87 Eddie Collins (Checklist Back)
87 Eddie Collins (Turkey Red Back)
88 Harry Coveleski (Checklist Back)
88 Harry Coveleski (Turkey Red Back)
89 Lou Criger (Checklist Back)
89 Lou Criger (Turkey Red Back)
90a Mickey Doolin (Turkey Red Back-Doolan)
90b Mickey Doolan (Checklist Back)
91 Tom Downey (Checklist Back)
91 Tom Downey (Turkey Red Back)
92 Jimmy Dygert (Checklist Back)
92 Jimmy Dygert (Turkey Red Back)
93 Art Fromme (Checklist Back)
93 Art Fromme (Turkey Red Back)
94 George Gibson (Checklist Back)
94 George Gibson (Turkey Red Back)
95 Peaches Graham (Checklist Back)
95 Peaches Graham (Turkey Red Back)
96 Bob Groom (Checklist Back)
96 Bob Groom (Turkey Red Back)
97 Dick Hoblitzell (Checklist Back)
97 Dick Hoblitzell (Turkey Red Back)
98 Solly Hofman (Checklist Back)
98 Solly Hofman (Turkey Red Back)
99 Walter Johnson (Checklist Back)
99 Walter Johnson (Turkey Red Back)
100 Davy Jones (Checklist Back)
100 Davy Jones (Turkey Red Back)
101 Wee Willie Keeler (Checklist Back)
101 Wee Willie Keeler (Turkey Red Back)
102 Johnny Kling (Checklist Back)
102 Johnny Kling (Turkey Red Back)
103 Ed Konetchy (Turkey Red Back)
103 Ed Konetchy (Checklist Back)
104 Ed Lennox (Checklist Back)
104 Ed Lennox (Turkey Red Back)
105 Hans Lobert (Turkey Red Back)
105 Hans Lobert (Checklist Back)
106 Harry Lord (Checklist Back)
106 Harry Lord (Turkey Red Back)
107 Rube Manning (Checklist Back)
107 Rube Manning (Turkey Red Back)
108 Fred Merkle (Checklist Back)
108 Fred Merkle (Turkey Red Back)
109 Pat Moran (Checklist Back)
109 Pat Moran (Turkey Red Back)
110 George McBride (Checklist Back)
110 George McBride (Turkey Red Back)
111 Harry Niles (Checklist Back)
111 Harry Niles (Turkey Red Back)
112a Dode Paskert (Checklist Back-Cincinnati)
112b Dode Paskert (Turkey Red Back-Cin.& Phl)
113 Bugs Raymond (Checklist Back)
113 Bugs Raymond (Turkey Red Back)
114 Bob Rhoades (Checklist Back)
115 Admiral Schlei (Checklist Back)
115 Admiral Schlei (Turkey Red Back)
116 Boss Schmidt (Checklist Back)
116 Boss Schmidt (Turkey Red Back)
117 Wildfire Schulte (Checklist Back)
117 Wildfire Schulte (Turkey Red Back)
118 Frank Smith (Checklist Back)
118 Frank Smith (Turkey Red Back)
119 George Stone (Checklist Back)
119 George Stone (Turkey Red Back)
120 Gabby Street (Checklist Back)
120 Gabby Street (Turkey Red Back)
121 Billy Sullivan (Checklist Back)
121 Billy Sullivan (Turkey Red Back)
122a Fred Tenney (Checklist Back-N.Y.)
122b Fred Tenney (Turkey Red Back-Ny & Bos.)
123 Ira Thomas (Checklist Back)
123 Ira Thomas (Turkey Red Back)
124 Bobby Wallace (Checklist Back)
124 Bobby Wallace (Turkey Red Back)
125 Ed Walsh (Checklist Back)
125 Ed Walsh (Turkey Red Back)
126 Owen Wilson (Checklist Back)
126 Owen Wilson (Turkey Red Back)