19th Century Old Judge Collection with Mayo's, Allen & Ginter, Goodwin Champs Also Purchased

Dad's Advice Leads to Collection of Vintage Baseball Cards from the 1800's
  • March 30, 2024

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At the age of 5, a young collector was influenced by his dad to buy vintage baseball cards instead of playing arcade games. Decades later this is how a special collection of 19th Century baseball cards including N172 Old Judge, N300 Mayo's, N28 Allen & Ginter, N162 Goodwin Champions, and N690 Kalamazoo Bats came to Just Collect and was purchased by us. Take a look at some amazing baseball cards from a time when electricity in your house was a brand new thing!

Checking our Just Collect free appraisal form, we received an inquiry from a gentleman with multiple 19th Century baseball cards they were interested in selling. These 19th century baseball cards from the 1800's date back to  as early as 1887! Released 137 years ago, these pieces of baseball history have witnessed the world change beyond the wildest imaginations. Electricity had not begun trickling into homes until 1878; some of these baseball players likely did not even have electricity when theses cards were made! The first car was made in 1886, just months before these baseball cards have seen the light of day. Forget smartphones and WiFi - imagine a world with no electricity or automobiles. That's how old these baseball cards are, and how The Hobby has stood the test of time. 

19th Century Old Judge Collection with Mayo's, Allen & Ginter, Goodwin Champions

Back in 1988, a five-year-old Ryan purchased his very first baseball card - a 1958 Topps All-Star Stan Musial. The price tag on Stan the Man was back then was a $1.50. Ryan's dad nudged him to pickup the vintage card at his local mall rather than using his money to play a few games at the arcade. Smart move, dad! Ryan became very passionate about baseball cards, and instead of collecting newer cards in the 1980's and 1990's, he fell in love with vintage cards. After completing many sets that he plans to pass down to his son, Ryan eyed baseball cards from the 1800's. Choosing well-conditioned, graded cards, Ryan focused on cards from the 19th Century. Condition is VERY important with your sports cards. Using a scale from 1 to 10 with 10 being Gem Mint, the change in just a single grade could change the value of your card by thousands of dollars. We have a great example of the difference in value between a "2" and a "4" with a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie card that you can learn about here. Ryan chose to collect cards from the 1800's for their look, scarcity, and how each retains their value. Modern cards have values that fluctuate daily! With vintage cards, what you won't find are stats changing (retired players aren't going into a slump any time soon...). Players from the 1800's have long since passed, ensuring there are no off-field issues that could hurt the value of their cards, too. 

Ryan was ready to sell a few of his 19th Century cards, and after reading our Google Reviewshe knew choosing us here at Just Collect was the perfect choice. Your local card shop is generally not well equipped to appraise or purchase vintage collections like this. The retail stores are focused on selling modern products and simply don't have the time or the knowledge to carefully evaluate vintage collections. This is where we are happy to help you.

1887, 1888, and 1889 OLD JUDGE (N172)

Old Judge N172 cards were manufactured by the Goodwin Company from 1887 to 1890. Each card is 1.5" x 2-5", which is much smaller than the standard-size cads you see today at 2.5 " x 3.5". The backs of each card are blank. Modern cards have stats on the reverse, and most vintage tobacco cards carried the brand of tobacco ads when you flipped the cards over. These Old Judge cards have a simple, blank back. On the front are images of each player. Long, long before "action" shots, players had to pose for the pictures! In total, there are more than 40 baseball teams represented in the set, having both major and minor league teams. Incredibly, there are over 4,500 variations of cards in this set! Some players have over a dozen different cards based on poses. 

The best card from the collection comes from the 1887 Old Judge N172 set - King Kelly. In the first image of the slide show below, you can see Kelly in the very first card. King Kelly played from 1878 to 1893, and was also a player-manager in 1887, 1890, and 1891. The Boston team you are looking at on Kelly's card is the Boston Beaneaters. The Beaneaters later became the Boston Braves (1912) before eventually moving to Milwaukee and then Atlanta where the Braves are located today. Kelly played on six National League championships teams, won a pair of batting tittles (1884 and 1886), and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945. To give you an idea the scarcity, there are only 10 of this particular King Kelly card graded by PSA on their population report.


The majority of the collection is Old Judge N172 cards, but there are other 19th-Century gems, too! In the sixth photo of our slide show are cards from the 1895 Mayo's Cut Plug N300 set 1888 Allen & Ginter (N28), as well as 1888 Goodwin Champions N162). The Mayo's Cut Plug N300 cards are 1-5/8" x 2-7/8" in size and were produced by Mayo Tobacco in Richmond, VA. Just 48 cards makeup the Mayo set, with 40 different players. The 1888 Allen & Ginter N28 cards are in color! While Old Judge N172 cards have the sepia images, Allen & Ginter N162 really stands out with their colorful images. Each Allen & Ginter N28 card is 1.5" x 2.75" and were also distributed in cigarettes in Richmond, VA. In total, there are 50 cards to the 1888 Allen & Ginter N28 set. 1888 Goodwin Champions N162 also has vibrant colors to their cards. Each Goodwin card is 1.5" x 2-5/8", and were found in cigarette brands of Old Judge and Gypsy Queen. This set features more than baseball players - 18 different sports can be found on these beautiful cards. 

The Allen & Ginter and Goodwin Champions cards in the sixth photo are both Robert L Caruthers cards. As a pitcher, Caruthers won 218 games and twice led baseball in wins. Caruthers last took the field in ...1893. The player on this card hasn't pitched an inning in 130 years!

The final two photos are of cards from the 1887 Kalamazoo Bats N690 set and the 1889 Number 7 W526 Cigars set. The Kalamazoo tobacco cards are on heavier cardboard, and what we love about the Fred Mann card is that he definitely isn't wearing a glove in Center Field. Remember those Boston Beaneaters? The 1889 Number 7 Cigars set featured 14 cards, each from the Beaneaters! 

Below is a slideshow of these historic treasures. As you read names such as Oyster Burns, James Holliday, Bill Vinton, Nick Smith, and more, think about this: some of these players may have played baseball games without gloves in their careers. The first player to use a baseball glove was Charlie Waitt in 1875.Wearing a glove in the field wasn't normal in the mid 1890's!


King Kelly
Judge 1  87 88 89
Judge 2  87 88 89
Judge 3  87
Judge 4  87
Mayo Goodwin Ginter
1887 Kalamazoo
Judge Cigars


Our owner, Leighton Sheldon, couldn't believe he was holding three dozen cards nearly 140 years old in his hands. These cards aren't stored in museums or lock boxes, and we have the honor to have purchased each. 


Ryan reached out to us via our free appraisal free appraisal form with images of his collection. As vintage card specialists, we were ecstatic to see so many graded cards from the 1800's. These cards are scarce, which makes appraising a collection of this nature quite the task. Other tobacco card sets from a Century ago such as the 1909-11 T206 set are more prevalent in the hobby. There are more T206 cards available in the market, most of which are purchased and sold far more frequently the cards you see here today. Given 19th Century baseball cards aren't readily available, there is much less data on value! The research on this collection would take a little extra time and care. Our Vice-President, John Palomares, handled the evaluation and spoke with Ryan throughout the entire process.

For this process, we reviewed the four best cards Ryan was interested in selling. We then offered a range of value, giving Ryan the amount we valued each card at, and then the amount we would offer to purchase the four cards. This process allowed Ryan and us to come to an agreement on how each card would be valued and whether or not Ryan would be interested in us appraising his entire collection. After our initial evaluation, Ryan was happy to move forward with us appraising the entire collection for him.

With each card graded, we already knew the condition of the cards. There was no need to travel to Ryan, or ask that he come to our store here in Summit, NJ. We evaluated the collection based on the images Ryan provided. We're no stranger to travelling for collections, though! We recently flew from NJ to Seattle, WA. to purchase vintage basketball sets including a complete 1948 Bowman basketball set that you can read about here.

After a careful review, we made a fair offer to Ryan that he accepted. We then paid Ryan how he wanted to be paid. When you choose to sell your collection to Just Collect, we can pay you in cash, check, or wire transfer. We provided our FedEx shipping account to Ryan with 2-day, fully-insured shipping to ship his cards to our Just Collect store, and we then paid Ryan via Company check.   

We thank Ryan for choosing Just Collect to purchase his pheromonal collection of 19th Century baseball cards! Ryan states "I had read online many positive testimonials and knew that their team consisted of highly respectable people who are very thoughtful and considerate when purchasing a collection!  The deal couldn't have gone any smoother and it was a pleasure working with John!  If in the future I decide to sell any more cards, I will definitely be reaching out to Just Collect!"


Just Collect is always buying vintage sports and non-sports cards from 1879 to 1979 as well as select modern cards. If you have a collection that you are considering selling, contact us today to discuss or get our industry-leading purchase offer. If you have a collection that you want appraised, please contact us and we would be happy to discuss your collection and help you understand the real cash value of your collection in the current marketplace. Check out the Just Collect Buy List.

We always offer a FREE APPRAISAL for your collection here at the Just Collect site. Just click here:


We offer may ways to evaluate your cards other than or using our website, too.

  • Travel to Us

If you can make the trip here like the son from my hometown did for this collection- we can make a deal at the office. We once met a father-son duo that drove eight hours from Virginia to meet us to sell a Michael Jordan rookie card stored in Tupperware since 1986 - great read here

  • Come to convention

We keep a LIST of card shows we'll be attending.  Come stop by the Just Collect table and chat.

  • Meet in-person

If you have a valuable collection and want us to come to you, we'll hop on the next plane out.

  • Meet in New York City

We have another location in New York you can meet us at; read all the information here.

  • SHIP your collection 

If you choose to mail your cards for an appraisal, we will evaluate your cards for FREE still. If you choose not to sell the cards, we'll ship them back shipping fees paid by us!  We can offer our FedEx account with 2-day shipping, fully insured, all covered by us. Simply contact the office to set up this option.


We've run into a wide range of people and collections over the last 25 years. Although Just Collect is known for buying vintage sports cards and especially vintage baseball cards, we are also extremely interested in buying non-sports cards, too!  

Every collection and every collector is different and we treat EVERY collection with the respect and attention that we show for our own collections. We understand that many have put their heart and souls into building their collections. So when you're ready to sell, we understand the feelings that you're going through and will work with you to help you reach a decision that is a WIN/WIN, because if you're not happy, we're not happy.


Whether you have vintage cards or modern wax you want to sell, you can reach out to us any time! 


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