This Rose Postcard page explores the mysteries of this 1908 postcard set and the recent discovery of previously uncataloged minor league subjects from the Springfield team. An even newer find may provide answers to many questions...
Perhaps the most beautiful of the Pre-Linen Era baseball postcards, this Rose Company embossed set from 1908-09 featured major league talent, as well as ten players from the New York State League's Scranton team. Postcards featuring an illustration in place of the photograph have been long known, serving as advertisements for a restaurant of the period.
Copyright 2004 -- VintageBall.com
In March, 2004 a lot of 13 Rose postcards was sold on eBay for $6,177.77, featuring newly discovered subjects -- members of a Springfield minor league team.
The lot was purchased jointly by three prominent collectors for several thousand dollars. This find immediately prompted speculation about the derivation of the cards. Interestingly, unlike the previously cataloged cards, the Springfield subjects were somewhat different in appearance:
1) Whereas the major league players photographs were portraits taken indoors, the Springfield player photographs featured outdoor poses.
2) The Springfield photographs were smaller in size, appearing in a white ring inside the embossed gold border.
3) The player identification panels also were somewhat different. The major league players previously cataloged mostly feature lettering that nearly fills the white rectangle beneath the photo. The Springfield ID boxes, meanwhile, tended to feature text that was more centered -- with a little more white space on either side.
Below are several examples of these Springfield player cards from this new find:
[Please note, these postcard images (along with several others) all can currently be found on eBay on the "My eBay" page of one of the purchasers of this find. VintageBall does not currently have access to any of these cards themselves.]
Interestingly, the seller of the cards offered this explanation of their derivation: "Set of 13 postcards by The Rose Co., Springfield, Mass. baseball team 1909, with real photo inserts of the players. Cards show a baseball diamond with a green background. All are in unmailed condition, though 7 have player autographs on the back. I think the team is Springfield, Mass., as it came from a Springfield, Mass. postcard album.... I recently purchased a set of postcard albums picked from an estate in Vermont over the winter. One of the albums was for Springfield, Mass., these cards were in the Springfield album. The original collector was a Mrs. Edger whose husband was the proprieter [sic] of the Russell House hotel in Springfield. A couple of the cards have personal notes to her and her husband from one of the players."
Upon viewing this lot, many advanced collectors were curious as to how these 13 cards remained undetected for so long, asking the obvious questions on:
Who made them? Why do they appear different? Are they real? Could this be the work of a Springfield fan or even the team? Could someone in 1908 or 1909 have purchased real Rose postcards and altered them to appear as though they were issued for this team?
While the cards most certainly are "real" -- with the postcards dating to 1908 and the photos dating to 1909 -- nobody has been able to trace their origin.
A new discovery may hold the answer to this major question about the "Springfield Find"...
In May, 2004 at a postcard collector club meeting in New York, a most unusual Rose postcard surfaced. The front of this newly-unearthed card is identical to the Springfield cards, with two glaring exceptions -- no photo and no printing in the white rectangle beneath the gold and white circle.
Like the Springfield player cards, this "blank" card features a white ring within the gold-ringed border where the photo usually appears.
Most significantly, the card features a dual back. The regular Rose company-printed back has a second, thinner back adhered to it. This second back also features all the Rose and postcard markings, but is considerable thinner.
The card, it seems, was intended to be used by its purchaser to insert a favorite photo and then seal up the postcard with the second "overlaid" back. Interestingly, the individual from whose collection this surfaced, had marked the card as follows, some time ago: "PERSONAL PHOTO POSTCARD (UNUSED)."
The speculation among the New York postcard club members was that these "blanks" might have been made available to drug stores or photography studios that would then complete the process for the purchaser: inserting the photo, sealing the card and printing or stamping the white rectangle, as requested.
These cards may also have been made available, in bulk, to businesses seeking to insert their own images for promotional purposes. The Springfield ball club may have been one such purchaser! Or, one of the club's members or fans may have undertaken the effort himself at the local pharmacy.
Below are images of the front and back of this newly-discovered blank Rose card:
So, the mystery of the 13 Springfield minor league Rose cards may be solved. Who knows how many other "homemade" Rose cards exist in scrapbooks and attics, waiting to surface with their telltale white rings surrounding their photographs?
Feel free to offer-up any new details or Rose postcards stories, which can be added to this page. Email any feedback or additional input to: [email protected].