1922 E120 American Caramel Walter Johnson

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  • October 05, 2012
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As great as he was, Walter Johnson sometimes gets overlooked in the discussion of great players from the first quarter of the last century.  You hear about Ruth, Cobb, Wagner, Lajoie, Mathewson and Speaker.  Maybe it was his quiet, dignified nature.  The Big Train, however, often causes a stir when unique cards of his are up for grabs in the world of card collecting. This week, we have a very interesting and attractive card of the Hall of Fame hurler of up for bid.  It comes from the scarce E120 American Caramel set of 1922. Measuring 2" x 3.5", it’s a little unusual in size.  However, this particular example is graded PSA 4, very respectable considering that PSA has graded fewer than 2,000 examples in their history.  It’s nicely centered with only minimal to moderate corner wear.  Only a handful of examples grade higher. There are 20 Hall of Famers, including this card, in the ambitious, unnumbered 240-card set issued by the American Caramel Company of Philadelphia.  It’s really the only extensive representation of players from the era—sort of a snapshot of a long ago time frame not found anywhere else. The E120 cards feature a team roster on the back, which is a nice touch considering how few pre-1925 card producers bothered with much of anything on the reverse. How good was Walter Johnson?  Consider he won 417 games and struck out more than 3,500 hitters during a 21-year career spent entirely with the Washington Senators.  Two years after this card was made, he led them to a World Series title. He was a friend to presidents and universally respected by those he played with—and against.  Remarkably, he’s still the all-time big league leader in shutouts. The Johnson is one of the key cards in E120 series and there’s already been strong interest from collectors who rarely see one come up for auction.      

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