Beginnings: 1880’s: Series Guide

Before & After:


Buchner Gold Coin

Comiskey, Charl

Old Judge

Ars Longa: 1880s



Buchner Gold Coin


Old Judge

Ars Longa: 1880s

Card Reverses:

Issued May to June, 2013
Issued July to December, 2013

Issued 2014

Issued 2015

Issued 2016

Set Description:


Old Judge (N172)

Issued from 1887 to 1890 by Goodwin & Co. in packs of Old Judge and Gypsy Queen cigarettes, the set depicts at least 520 different players, managers, owners and umpires from more than 40 major and minor league teams. More than 4,500 variations of these cards have been documented and previously unknown cards are discovered every year. The cards measure 1.5″ by 2.5″.

Perhaps the greatest documentary of baseball in the 19th century and a permanent cornerstone of the baseball card hobby, the Old Judge series contains a trove of images that convey the unique character and characters of baseball in those pioneering days.

Buchner Gold Coin (N284)

Issued in 1887 by D. Buchner & Co. in pouches of Gold Coin chewing tobacco, the set depicts 114 different baseball players and 1 owner with 28 additional variations, bringing the number of baseball cards in the series to 143. The cards measure 1.75″ by 3″.

Although the Buchner cards depict subjects in a limited number of generic poses that are poorly conceived and bear little resemblance to actual players, there are some quaint and colorful backdrops that portray baseball as a largely pastoral pastime making inroads to urban centers (all the St. Louis players are depicted in an urban park). This is as much a reflection of America as it is baseball in the 1880s – the core period of the second industrial revolution, in which America experienced unprecedented economic growth, the rapid development of railroads and the rise of the modern city. Indeed, this was the period during which professional baseball was consolidated into the largest urban centers as that is where the greatest revenues could be earned.

Beginnings: the 1880s

This series of cards celebrates the people, teams and cities that made baseball such a colorful and dynamic enterprise in the 1880s – the decade in which the art of the baseball card was established.

The set’s design is an original pastiche of the Old Judge tobacco cards (N172) and cabinets (N173) and the Buchner Gold Coin (N284) tobacco cards. The Buchner Gold Coin images are used as canvases, upon which I superimpose colorized player images, as well as environmental and architectural elements such as grass and buildings to create greater photorealistic depth, detail and color than that which appears in the originals.

To my knowledge, this series represents the largest Old Judge colorization project ever undertaken. It may in fact be the only attempt to colorize Old Judge images at all.

As of 1/1/16, there are 224 cards featuring 224 unique players in the active series, representing 31 different teams in 4 different leagues – and one umpire. Of the roughly 520 different subjects featured in the Old Judge series, the 224 subjects in the 1880s series represents 43% of the original set. Of the roughly 4,500 variations found in the Old Judge series, 224 represents a mere 5%.

By integrating the iconic images of the Old Judge series with the late 19th century landscapes and skylines of the Buchner Gold Coin set, my goal is to produce an intriguing and beautiful set of cards that is not only fun to collect, but inspires further exploration of the people, times and places depicted.

Size, Weight & Design:

  • Dimensions: 1.75″ x 3″
  • Thickness: 24 pts
  • Designed: May, 2013


  • The 1880s: Base Set series debuted on 5/8/2013. Doc Bushong was the first card released.
  • It took me four years and three months to complete the 1880s: Base Set. Chicken Wolf was the 300th & final card created for the series. The Chicken Wold card was released on 8/10/2017.
  • The 1880s: Base Set is now complete at 300 cards
  • The 1880s: Spotted Ties Subset is complete and consists of 16 cards
  • The 1880s: Diamond Duos Subset currently consists of 12 cards (one or two more may be in the works)
  • The 1880s: Loving Pauper Subset currently consists of 30 cards (I plan to make about 20 more Loving Paupers)
  • Click for an Old Judge & Ars Longa 1880s: Comparison Chart
  • Click for printable: Alphabetical Checklist
  • Click for printable: Team Checklist

Most Popular Cards:

  • These cards are presented in reverse order by average winning bid
  • A card is eligible to make this list only after it has been issued four times
  • This list will be updated whenever changes are necessary
  • Last updated: 4/20/2017