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1924 Major League Baseball Tomas Gutierrez Tobacco Premium Album
Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $1,320
Presented is an extremely rare and fascinating Tomas Gutierrez Cuban League trading-card album. This 32-page album (plus front and back covers) is an elaborate hardcover book measuring 9 x 12 inches. The cover is forest green with gold lettering on the front. Inside are sixteen ornate two-page spreads, each devoted to one of the sixteen Major League teams from the 1924 season. Each team spread features black-and-white "card-like" portraits of team members printed on thin, glossy stock, and each portrait is surrounded by a gold border, with the name and position of the player printed inside the image. The team's city (i.e., Boston) and name (i.e., Red Sox) are printed in big, gold letters in the center of the left and right pages, respectively. The Tomas Gutierrez name and other company information is printed in banners at the top and bottom of each page. The back of each page is blank except for a Tomas Gutierrez advertisement printed in black in the center. This album, essentially, pictures a "Diaz Cigarettes card set that (apparently) never was" featuring the entire 1924 Major League in album form!
Tomas Gutierrez issued two sets of baseball cards with its Diaz Cigarettes brand exclusively in Cuba between 1923 and 1924, and these cards are among the rarest and most desirable of all Cuban tobacco issues. The first set was issued over this two-year period and consists of eighty-five cards, which feature various Negro League players, including Hall of Famers Oscar Charleston, Pop Lloyd, and Cristobal Torriente. An album was designed with preprinted images of all the cards in the set and was available in exchange for a complete 85-card set (we have sold only one example of this album, which appeared as lot #317 in REA's Spring 2013 auction). The second set was issued only in 1924 and consists of 136 cards featuring exclusively Major League pitchers. The offered album is particularly fascinating as it features images that correspond to some of the cards issued in this pitchers-only set, but also includes hundreds of additional player images not known to exist in any Gutierrez-issued set, including dozens of Hall of Famers, such as Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, and Tris Speaker, among others. It is not known if Tomas Gutierrez intended to release an extremely large set of Major Leaguers over multiple years but stopped after 1924 and only issued pitchers or if the images in this album were intended to be a different set entirely that was never produced.
While we may never know the exact intention of this album, it is undoubtedly an exceptional and extremely rare surviving relic from the Tomas Gutierrez company and its Diaz brand. This is the only example of this particular album we have ever seen (it was originally part of the legendary Richard Merkin collection of extraordinary Cuban-related cards and memorabilia). We have seen individual pages sold as "team sets," which presumably were the result of disassembling a complete album, but this is the only complete, intact album to the best of our knowledge. The album shows cosmetic wear to the outside portion, with minor fraying to the edges and visible wear to the front and back cloth covers. The interior pages remain in outstanding condition overall with a few visible flaws to the fragile edges and corners. The image area of each team is largely unaffected by any wear (a stray wrinkle may be visible here or there, mentioned strictly for accuracy). This album is an amazing piece as it features tremendous card-like images of hundreds of Major League players, among them many Hall of Famers, including Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb, and is an incredibly rare premium of the highly collectible Tomas Gutierrez company. A fascinating rarity that of course would be a worthy addition to any advanced Cuban-card collection, but would also have great appeal to anyone interested in baseball-card issues of the 1920s. SOLD FOR $1,320
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