Last updated 01/25/2017
In 1914, the Liggett & Myers Tobacco Co. issued a set of photographic cards of major league baseball players, track & field stars, and silent movie actors as individual inserts in tins of their Fatima “Turkish Blend” cigarettes. Advertising on the back of the cards declared that the cards were part of a set of 100 “famous Baseball players, American Athletic champions, and Photoplay stars”, but the known total is currently 64 (52 baseball, 4 track & field, and 8 actors & actresses). When Jefferson Burdick published American Card Catalog in 1939, he designated this set as T222, which is now its common name among collectors.
T222 was the second of two baseball sets issued under the Fatima brand name, the other being the T200 set of 16 team cards in the previous year, which are much easier to obtain now. The Fatima brand was used with many non-sports sets issued over a period of more than 40 years. T222 was one of the last sets of the tobacco card era that ran from 1909 to 1916. Due to the small set size and its scarcity, it’s generally considered to be a minor set and its popularity is limited.
The Players (And Everyone Else)
The 52 baseball players in T222 varied widely in their major league experience and stature. The set includes just seven players who were later inducted into the Hall of Fame; at just over 13% of the total, this a far lower percentage than most other sets of the era. In contrast, the popular Cracker Jack set also issued in 1914 includes many HOFers excluded from T222 like Plank, Cobb, and Mathewson. Missing, too, are notable stars like Joe Jackson, Eddie Cicotte, Hal Chase, and Joe Wood, all of whom appeared in the T200 team photos.
T222 includes several obscure players including Byron Houck (4 seasons at 26-24 and later a Hollywood cinematographer), Jack Lelivelt (SABR bio) and the most insignificant of them all, Billy Orr (2 seasons, .187 lifetime). My research on player uniforms shows that the photos used in the set were as much as five years old, which makes the player choices for the set puzzling.
It wasn’t unusual for sets of the era to include other celebrities; in T222’s case, there are 4 track & field stars and (at least) 8 actors and actresses. The track stars were all big names in their day; both Alvah Meyer (sprinter) and Matt McGrath (hammer) won medals at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics.
The actors and actresses are cited as Photoplay stars; Photoplay was one of the first magazines to cater to movie audiences. As evidence of why collectors shouldn’t give up hope, a card of the actor J. Warren Kerrigan was discovered for the first time in 2016, bringing the total number of actors & actresses to 8. The others are King Baggot, Della Connor, Ethel Grandin, Florence Lawrence, Paul Panzer, Pearl Sindelar and Crane Wilbur.
Thirteen of the sixteen major league teams are represented; Pittsburgh, Boston AL, and Chicago AL (all good teams in 1913) have no players. The Philadelphia A’s (11 players) and the Cubs (8) represent almost 40% of all represented players. The remaining 11 teams have anywhere from 1 (Cincinnati) and 6 players (New York NL). See the checklist for a full list of players and groupings by team.
T222’s are gelatin-silver photographic prints measuring approximately 4 1/2 inches in height by 2 1/2 inches in width. Legitimate (i.e., non-altered) sizes may vary by as much as 1/8″ in either direction. They are printed on an extremely thin paper stock and have a glossy exterior that makes the cards tend to curl when not in protective holders. Players are shown in full-length poses, most either at the completion of a throw or awaiting a pitch. Many of the photos were manipulated to enhance the picture quality – the Alexander photo shown on this page is an example.
Pictorial News Co.
All photos in the series were copyrighted by the Pictorial News Co., whose name appears in a white-outlined box in the lower right of all of the cards. Pictorial News Co. bought photos from freelancers and in turn sold them to newspapers and others. The company ceased operations in the 1920’s. Not all of the photographers are known, but Charles Conlon took the photo of Leach.
All but five of the baseball player cards appear with a handwritten number in the lower left corner of the card. These range from 2 to 9 and from 12 to 15 (see checklist). Cards without numbers often have the player names close to the bottom border, so there is no room. The numbering scheme has no obvious pattern: for example, there are six “7”‘s, but only two “2”‘s. Even if the unnumbered cards are included, the totals per number couldn’t average out evenly. The track & field athletes have “10” as their numbers, while a few of the actors and actresses show “11” but most have no number. It’s possible that these numbers indicate the sequential issue of the cards.
Prices for T222’s now largely depend on whether the cards were “short-printed”, meaning that their number is “10” or higher. In other words, card with double digit numbers are much more valuable.