Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Reader Question -- 1940s Leaf Cards

Here's a card from my collection I've shown here before:

This is from a set I've called 1948-49 Leaf both in my own Website and in this blog. A reader named John sent me this email:

"I just spent a few relaxing and entertaining hours reading the info in your pages. I stumbled across them while searching for info about the 1948-49 Leaf set.

I notice that you still consider that the set was printed and distributed over both years, 1948 and 1949. However, I recently completed reading the backs of every card in the set and I am convinced that it is strictly a 1949 issue, despite the occasional card with a 1948 copyright.

Every single card, with the obvious exceptions of the Wagner and Ruth cards, shows stats from the 1948 season; every single card that makes a specific mention of them refers to them as "last year." Additionally, the backs of the Cleveland Indians' Lou Boudreau and Jim Hegan mention their performance in the 1948 World Series and the Hank Edwards card mentions the Indians' World Championship. The other 1948 World Series team, the Boston Braves, has three player cards that mention their performance in the World Series, Alvin Dark, Tommy Holmes and Warren Spahn.

Therefore, the earliest that this set could have been printed would have been in late October, 1948, which is highly unlikely, given that card sellers typically stop selling their sets at that time of year due to loss of interest by the kids who buy their products. I'm convinced that the Leaf issue was strictly a 1949 issue and should share with Bowman the bragging rights of having the first post-war color set and that rookie player cards from each set should also be recognized.

Many sources seem to have reached the same conclusion, but most are reluctant to remove the reference to 1948 from the Leaf set and list it as strictly a 1949 set. They still call it the "1948-49 Leaf Set." I think there is no longer any doubt and that it should be recognized as the "1949 Leaf Set."

What do you think?"

I'll preface this by saying that I wrote the original Web page John read back in 2001, and used many of the same references that he refers to as I wrote it. I'm fairly open to changing the text to reflect new information, but my own dealings with this set are admittedly sparse. I own two cards, and haven't done the level of investigation as John obviously has.

However, in looking at my own two (the Seery card above) has a 1948 date and the other (#17 Frank Overmire) has a 1949 copyright. Seery's card mentions his 1948 performance, using his season-end totals, which would seem to confirm John's analysis.

I know that the Leaf set had several "unknown" factors among hobbyists for several years, and even in the 1960s it was believed that more cards might eventually surface. Furthermore, the fact that the company issued two similarly-designed football sets in 1948 and 1949 likely muddied the waters about when the baseball set was released.

Any collectors of this set who would like to add an input here?


  1. They issuef a boxing set too. sorry that is all I have to add. I have some of the boxing cards but not enough energy to go through them and see what years are referenced in the bios.

  2. Agree that the stats support a 1949 date and pre-Internet collectors could've brought 1948 into the picture based on Leaf's football/boxing sets and their maddening practice of skip-numbering the sets. Intentionally leaving numbers out leads to confusion later.