28 June 2014

N20 Allen & Ginter Prize & Game Chickens 1: Dark Brahma Cockerel

This picture is at an awful resolution. I should have saved a larger image if I were planning on using the card as the headliner.

Yes, I bought a card featuring a chicken on eBay. I love this card. It was printed around the 1890 +/- a couple years, making it approximately 124 years old. After some research I realize that I probably paid a little too much for this example, but that seems to happen sometimes when you branch out into a new hobby and it's all foreign to you. Now I know better.

I do not remember the exact sequence of events that got me to this point, but there are a few things that contributed to it:
  • I was searching for something on the internet and came upon a weird back page of Nachos Grande's blog, which reminded me of his quest to complete the original N8 Allen & Ginter Fish from American Waters set. I thought, "Man, that is a pretty cool thing to do."
  • I was looking at dogs on the local animal shelter's web page.
  • I began to look at tobacco cards of dogs on eBay.
  • I may have bid on some of those.
  • I lost an auction for some tobacco cards featuring cattle.
  • I began to search the internet for a listing of tobacco cards with animals on them.
  • I found one. I found several. I found pictures. I found histories. I discovered that the UK and US have entirely different catalogs of cards, and it seems that most people focus on one or the other. Actually, most people probably ignore them altogether. Most of a small group of collectors focus on one side or the other.
  • 'Crafters' on Etsy also like these cards, but do unspeakable things to them, like glue fringes around them or cut them up to make collages. It's brutal. They must hate art, because they do horrible things to it in the name of cute home decor and artisanal picture frames.
  • There are a lot of cards out there. A lot more than you might think. A lot of them feature stuffy old men standing around.
  • I spent most of my childhood and adolescence raising some sort of livestock and/or living and working on farms.
  • I still order a catalog of chickens to look through every so often, and will probably order some chickens from that catalog and raise them once I graduate from school and have some time.
  • Highland Cattle are probably my favorite breed of cattle. They are very hairy and quite photogenic.
  • Brahmas are my favorite type of chicken. They are a heavy-bodied feather-footed breed and come in many different colors. This card features a Dark Brahma cockerel, but I think the Buff Brahmas are my favorite. That's what I had when I was a teenager.
  • I am still mad that I missed out on that cattle set.
  • Allen & Ginter released a set of 50 different chickens. The year that people designate for the set seems to range between 1889 and 1891, but it is usually referred to as N20 because that's the number that some dude assigned to it when he cataloged many of the old card sets. I think it was the same dude who named that set with the famous Honus Wagner card as the T206 set.
  • I am collecting the N20 Prize Chickens set now. I am going to put together a PSA-graded set, because they have a registry where you can enter the serial numbers on the slab and track the score of your set compared to other people's sets. My set will not be the #1 set because that would be very expensive and difficult, but it will eventually be complete and have a score. I am only the 2nd person who has started this particular set in the registry, so my set will be the 2nd-highest in the land until someone else coms along and beats me. My current score is 0.620 and my weighted GPA is 3.875. This card is a rated a 3 with qualifiers on the slab, and because of the qualifier (MK referencing a pencil mark on the back) it gets a -1 to the weighted GPA and counts as only a 2 for the purpose of the overall set rating. Boo! You might ask, "RAZ, how do you get a GPA of 3.875 out of a card that is rated a 2? Oh, that is my dark secret. Maybe I found a lot of cards from a forum and negotiated the purchase of said lot.

The back of the card is not this yellow. I was trying to make the card appear sharper because my scanner scans slabbed cards poorly. I imagine this is because the card sits up off the glass a little bit and the scanner is set to focus right at the level of the glass. I am going to have to look around on the forums for tips on this issue, so I can scan my graded cards with more clarity. There are a couple patches of paper missing from the back of the card, and the previously-mentioned pencil mark in the upper right corner. But I figure if a card is going to float around for 124 years waiting for me to buy it, it can have a couple of flaws. Anything that's older than my grandmother's grandmother is bound to have a couple of marks on it.

This immediately becomes the oldest card in my collection by about 80 years, and I am looking forward to completing the set over the next few years. There are copies of most cards in the set out there, and in lower grades you can get them for a few dollars. If they are already graded they will cost you a bit more, but for the price of a blaster I'd rather have something like this than another 80 cards and a manu-patch from the latest Topps Flagship set. I read on the PSA site that if you are trying to complete a set from the registry, they will grade the last few cards in the set for free. I may be able to get a few of these cards as raw, ungraded copies and send them in as part of a bulk lot, with some of them making up that free portion. I don't know. The world of card grading is new and scary to me.


  1. You can give all the reasoning you want, but all I can say is that is one cool-as-hell card. I grew up as a 4-Her, so I know what you mean about the cattle and the chickens and all that. Totally a great buy no matter what you paid -- because what you paid was worth it to you!

  2. I'm a city boy but chickens do look cool. I've had the same issue with the backs of cards turning yellowish on scans. Good luck collecting the set. I love old tobacco cards.

  3. Kewl card. I got 5 Plymouth Barred Rock Hens in the back yard, maybe I should see if I can find that card.