Old Judge and Dog's Head Poster
Although baseball wants no part of it today in its advertising, the tobacco industry was practically joined at the hip, or at least the mouth, with the National Pastime in the early days of the game when tobacco merchants began putting out trading cards with images of players -- with one product even called Red Stockings Cigars (1886). These cards were meant to hawk cigars and cigarettes but paid baseball a dividend by publicizing the sport. A very popular run was issued by the Old Judge tobacco company, the deal being that if you collected the cards in the cigarette packs and sent in 35 of them you'd receive a cabinet card photo. Because of the success of the Old Judge cards, the company began issuing cards with a less popular brand, Dog's Head. Today, these cards are extremely rare, with the Dog's Head cards worth 3 times as much as the Old Judges, and the cabinets fetching a king's ransom. This magnificently well preserved 14" x 29" Old Judge and Dog's Head Cigarettes poster, circa mid-1880s, may be as rare as some of those cabinets. It also provides a culture lesson in the fact that, despite its success with the baseball cards, the game itself was still not wildly popular. An illustration in a 1 1/2" x 3" rectangle entitled "Base Ball Pitcher" is in the second to bottom row of an array of rectangular images of other sports that were more popular at the time -- including yachting, coursing, hammer throwing, fox hunting, foot racing and even billiards! Still, just making the grade on the poster was a marker of the game's growth. The "Base Ball Pitcher" scene has a hurler underhanding one plateward, under the large face of a young woman, different variations of whom are on each illustration. Poster is dominated by the full figure of a lady, paddle oar in hand, next to a bundle of sports bric a brac including a dart board, arrows, tennis racquet and balls, long-sheathed knife and a rifle. Talk about your wide world of sports. Poster is mounted loosely on a white board and is VG-EX with the lower right corner torn away, small holes on the left edge and off the right edge, light soiling and water damage along the borders, and a slight separation on the upper right corner under the attached metal hanger. Fascinating slice of baseball-related Americana.