Joe Jackson Baseball Cards: The Ultimate Collector’s Guide
If there's one thing that should instantly stand out about "Shoeless" Joe Jackson baseball cards it's this:
there weren't many different varieties of Jackson cards produced during his playing days.
Since his first full season wasn't until 1911, he wasn't included in many of the iconic tobacco sets of years prior.
And because he was banned from the game after the 1920 season due to his alleged involvement in the "Black Sox" scandal, he was excluded from the extremely popular American Caramel set and others of the 1920s.
So, his relatively small window of playing time meant fewer Jackson cards to collect
And that can make owning any of his cards in any condition quite the challenge since you won't find them cheap.
In fact, his cards are some of the most expensive in the hobby...
And in this guide, we take a look at some of the finest Joe Jackson cards you can hope to collect.
Let's jump right in...
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1909-11 American Caramel E90-1 Joe Jackson Rookie Card
Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $600,000
Jackson's E90-1 American Caramel issue is considered to be his official rookie card and is by far and away the key to this ever-popular set.
The card features an image of Jackson in his Philadelphia Athletics uniform atop a purple background leaning on his bat.
You don't see this card come up for sale or auction very often but when they do, collectors pay big money for them.
Even in poor condition, they will fetch five figures.
And as condition improves, the prices only skyrocket even more.
1910 Schmelzer's Sporting Goods Pin
Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $1,150
While technically not a baseball card in the true sense, this small, 1" pin is also high on the want lists of many Jackson and pre-War collectors.
The pin features a beautiful action shot on the left, with Jackson's picture in the bottom right and his center field position along the top.
Schmelzer's, based in Kansas City, frequently advertised itself as "the largest sporting goods outfitter in the world" and distributed these pins as promotional items.
All of the pins are incredibly rare with only 6 examples of the Joe Jackson in the PSA population report at this time.
1910 T210 Old Mill
Estimated PSA 3.5 VG+ Value: $600,000
The T210 Old Mill set features hundreds of minor league ball players that most people have never heard of before.
However, Joe Jackson is an obvious exception.
Jackson is instantly recognizable on this card depicting him as a member of the Cleveland Naps’ minor league team, the New Orleans Pelicans.
The surrounding red borders of this card are susceptible to showing wear and tear quite easily making this card extremely condition sensitive.
A testament to its rarity, even in a low grade of PSA 3.5, this card is estimated to bring in a strong six figure haul.
1912 Colgan' Chips Tin Tops
Estimated PSA 2 Good Value: $16,000
These 1-7/16" discs were distributed in five-cent Colgan's Mint and Violet Chips gum tins.
The reverse side contains advertising for Colgan’s Gum while the front features a black and white image of Jackson surrounded by both his name and the Cleveland team name on either side of his head.
Several player discs in the set will appear in more than one variation but as of this writing there is only one version of Jackson's disc known to exist.
1913 Fatima T-200 Team Card
Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $12,000
Next up is one of the "cheaper" ways that collectors can add a Joe Jackson card to their collection: the 1913 Fatima Cleveland Indians team card.
These cards, with the appearance of framed pictures, measure in at 2 - 5/8" by 4 - 3/4" and were issued one per pack with Fatima cigarettes, a product of the Ligget and Myers Tobacco Company based in New York.
The Cleveland Indians team card is one of the most desirable in the series and is highlighted by not only Joe Jackson, but by Hall of Famer Napoleon Lajoie as well.
The reverse side of the cards offered to anyone "on receipt of 40 Fatima Cigarette coupons, we will send you an enlarged copy (size 13 x 21) of this picture (without advertising) or of any other picture in this series (National League and American League teams).
Those "premium" pictures are extremely difficult to find.
1913 National Game
Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $3,500
Designed to be played as a game, these 2-1/2" by 3-1/2" National Game cards came in sets of 54 and featured players of the era playing out any number of baseball scenarios.
For example, across the tops of the cards you might see "Strike", "Base Hit", "Ball" and "Home Run".
Or, in the case of Jackson you'd see "Foul Fly Out", which is odd considering how great of a hitter he was.
You'd think he'd fit better with "Base Hit" on his card.
Anyway, it's one of the easier Jackson cards to find in high grade and its reverse side features an ornate design liked you'd expect to see on a regular deck of playing cards.
1913 Tom Barker Game
Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $2,500
Although thought to be a bit more scarce, the Tom Barker game cards are nearly identical to the National Game cards.
The only glaring difference is the reverse side of the cards which feature an image of a baseball player, the Tom Barker logo and a different ornate design.
Like the National Game set, Joe Jackson is one of the keys to a checklist that includes many legends like Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Cy Young and Honus Wagner.
1914 Cracker Jack
Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $185,000
The 1914 and 1915 Cracker Jack issues are arguably Jackson's most beautiful baseball cards.
With its rich, red background and fantastic artwork of Jackson in his batting stance, the eye appeal of this card is undeniably strong.
Packaged directly inside boxes of Cracker Jacks, you'll often see the 1914 cards with staining, as shown below in the shot of the reverse side.
Staining or not, many collectors are happy to just be able to add one to their collection in any condition.
High grade specimens of this card easily sell for six figures.
1914 E. & S. Publishing Company
Estimated SGC 4 Value: $3,000
One of Jackson's more unusual cards is his 1914 E. & S. Publishing Company that was a postcard issue containing detailed cartoons and illustrations that outlined interesting biographical tidbits of the baseball icon.
On it, you learn the story of why he deserted Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics, why he always used a black bat, how he was originally scouted in his hometown of Greenville, and how he led several leagues in hitting along the way.
The postcard was illustrated entirely in blue ink and is one of a set that features other legends like Ty Cobb, Frank Chance, Christy Mathewson and others.
1914 Polo Grounds Game
Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $3,200
Another game issue, Jackson's 1914 Polo Grounds Game card fittingly shows him as getting a hit, as opposed to fouling one off like on his 1913 National Game and Tom Barker game cards.
While the set lacks a clear sponsor, it gets its name from the image of the Polo Grounds on the reverse side of the card.
It looks almost as if Jackson is playing at night under lights even though the first Major League baseball game played under lights didn't occur until 1935.
1915 Cracker Jack
Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $350,000
Although it features identical imagery on its front side as his 1914 Cracker Jack issue, the reverse side of his 1915 Cracker Jack issue is glaringly different.
Instantly noticeable is that the text is printed upside down.
And while the text at the "top" of the card describing Jackson's career is the same, the text at the "bottom" is also different.
Within that bottom text, the company describes a redemption program that was available to Cracker Jack consumers where they could send in for a complete factory set of these cards.
For that reason, you'll typically find the 1915 versions in better condition than the 1914 versions as many were issued as part of those factory sets and thus, avoided the caramel stains.
1915 W-UNC Strip Cards
Estimated PSA 2 Good Value: $6,000
Not much is known about this vague Jackson strip card that contains the same image as seen on the ever-popular 1916 M101 cards.
Because many of the cards in this set lack the typical sizing irregularities commonly seen with strip cards, some in the hobby wonder if this is even a strip card in the first place.
To date, there are only a handful of copies in circulation that have been graded between PSA and SGC.
1916 Famous & Barr Co.
Estimated PSA 5.5 Value: $14,000
Based in St. Louis, Famous and Barr Co. was a clothing store for boys and one of several regional advertisers to distribute M101-4 and M101-5 baseball cards.
By now, you've seen this image of Jackson in his batting pose on multiple cards (and will see it on a few more on this list).
The photograph was taken by Chicago publisher and sports photographer Felix Mendelsohn and inspired the artwork on Jackson's Cracker Jack cards and was used on various M101 variations.
While Famous & Barr Co. distributed both M101-4 and M101-5 versions of this card, most that you will come across are of the M101-5 variety.
1916 Globe Clothing Store
Estimated PSA 6 EX Value: $??
Another M101 variation are those distributed by Globe Clothing Store out of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
On the reverse of the card you can see an advertisement for Globe's "Dubbel-Header Suits" with the company's street address in the corner.
While not the rarest of the M101 variations, Globe Clothing Store cards are certainly less common than Sporting News and Famous & Barr Co. cards.
1916 Indianapolis Brewing Co.
Estimated PSA 4 VG-EX Value: $13,000
The Indianapolis Brewing Co. was in operation rom 1887 to around 1935 and along the way, they too distributed their own variation of the M101 cards.
On the reverse of the card, you can see that the company even offered a complete set of their cards for $0.25 or roughly $6 in today's terms.
That seems cheap even by today's standards.
While definitely not common, Indianapolis Brewing Co. variations are relatively more common than some of the other M101 variations.
1916 (M101-4) Sporting News
Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $75,000
Although the M101 cards were the brainchild of Felix Mendelsohn, you will typically refer to these cards being mistakenly referred to in the hobby as the "Sporting News" set.
Of all the variations, the Sporting News are the most common, especially the M101-4 series as they make up a huge chunk of all M101 cards in circulation.
It makes sense when you consider the Sporting News was able to reach a much wider audience than some of the other companies who released these cards such as regional clothing stores and bakeries.
To make things a bit confusing, M101-4 Sporting News cards can either be found with blank backs or with the company advertisement on the back.
1916 (M101-5) Sporting News
Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $75,000
Unlike the M101-4 Sporting News cards which can be found with both a black back or advertisement back, the M101-5 Sporting News cards are only found with blank backs.
And because the card number of many players is the same in both the M101-4 and M101-5 sets (Babe Ruth is card #151 in both, for example), distinguishing between a blank back M101-4 and M101-5 card can be difficult.
However, in the case of Joe Jackson, it's much easier since he's card #87 in the M101-4 series and card #86 in the M101-5 series.
Spot a #86 Jackson card with a blank back and you've got a M101-5 Sporting News on your hands.
1917 Boston Store
Estimated PSA 5 EX Value: $35,000
Next up is the 1917 Boston Store issue which is incredibly tough to find in any condition as their thin stock is easy to damage.
Jackson is pictured in his dark White Sox uniform hoisting Black Betsy over his shoulder in one of the more interesting poses of any Jackson card.
As of this writing, there have been less than ten of these cards grading between PSA and SGC so that should give you an idea of how rare they are.
Estimated PSA 6 EX-MT Value: $60,000
Like their Boston Store counterparts, the 1917 Collins-McCarthy issues were also printed on thin stock with a glossy finish that was extremely susceptible to wear and cracking.
While their fronts may be identical, you can easily tell the difference between the two based on the advertising on the reverse side.
Collins-McCarthy cards are some of the most desirable of any candy issue but they are just so tough to find.
Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $ 15,000
While strip cards may not be as popular among collectors as traditional baseball cards, the W514 is jam-packed with iconic players and even contains seven of the infamous eight Chicago "Black Sox" players, the most of any set in the hobby.
An artistic portrait of Jackson looking off to the side atop a warm, orange background gives the card a bit more eye appeal than you'll typically find with old strip cards of the era.
These cards were hand-cut from strips and while there are a few high grade examples in circulation, they are still tough to find without many flaws.
1921 Holsum Bread
Estimated SGC 2.5 Value: $25,000
Because Jackson was banned from baseball following the 1920 season due to his alleged involvement in the "Black Sox" scandal, he was excluded from the American Caramel series, one of the most iconic pre-War baseball card sets of all.
However, he did make it into the 1921 Holsum Bread set.
It is speculated that the Weil Baking Company did, in fact, distribute some of these in 1920 so that may help explain why Jackson was still able to be included.
Regardless, it was one of the last cards of the era to feature Jackson.
1940 Play Ball
Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $13,500
Usually cards that were printed and distributed during a player's actual playing days are among his most popular, but the 1940 Play Ball Joe Jackson is an exception.
That year, Play Ball decided to feature both active and retired players in its checklist and thankfully so, as there just aren't many Jackson cards to collect to begin with.
The card features a fantastic image of Jackson taking a cut at the ball in his White Sox uniform.
While the set itself is incredibly popular and loaded with stars and Hall of Famers, Jackson's card is easily among the top-three most desired alongside those of Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio.
Joe Jackson Baseball Cards Wrap-Up
Although Jackson was banned from baseball and his legacy will forever be shrouded in controversy, there is no questioning that he was one of the greatest hitters of all time.
In fact, his career .356 batting average ranks third only to Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby.
One of the most amazing things to me has always been that despite how great of a hitter he was, he never one a single batting title.
Whether you believe Jackson was guilty or innocent, a good guy or a bad guy, his legend and extreme popularity will keep his cards in high demand for a long, long time.