Beginnings: 1880’s: Series Guide

Set Description:

The Ars Longa: Beginnings: 1880s series of art cards was inspired by two different contemporaneous sets of tobacco picture cards: Old Judge (N172) & Buchner Gold Coin (N284).

Old Judge (N172)

  • Roughly 96% of the images used for the 1880s series are original to the Old Judge (N172) series
  • Issued from 1886 to 1890 by Goodwin & Co. in packs of Old Judge and Gypsy Queen cigarettes, the Old Judge series depicts at least 520 different players, managers, owners and umpires from more than 40 major and minor league teams
  • More than 2,500 variations of these cards have been documented and previously unknown cards are discovered every year
  • 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 preserve and convey the unique character and characters of baseball during the sport’s pioneering heyday
  • Old Judge cards measure 1.5″ by 2.5″

Buchner Gold Coin (N284)

  • Buchner Gold Coin cards were issued in 1887 by D. Buchner & Co. in pouches of Gold Coin chewing tobacco
  • The Buchner series depicts 114 different baseball players and 1 owner with 28 additional pose variations, bringing the total number of unique baseball cards in the series to 143
  • 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 colorful landscapes that portray baseball as a largely pastoral game
  • Despite the series’ rural abundance of mountains & trees, all the St. Louis players are depicted in an urban park, presumably Sportsman’s Park, illustrating how baseball was consolidating its talent and monetizing its market into urban centers in the 1880s
  • 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
  • Despite the generic presentation of the players, the cards are hand-drawn and colored, providing wonderful detail and an invaluable resource regarding actual uniforms and uniform colors circa 1886-1887
  • Buchner Gold Coin cards measure 1.75″ by 3″

Ars Longa: Beginnings: the 1880s

  • The 1880s series of cards celebrates the people, teams & 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
  • Buchner Gold Coin backgrounds 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
  • 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

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

Issued 2017

Size, Weight, Design, History, Status & Trivia:

  • Dimensions: 1.75″ x 3″
  • Thickness: 24 pts
  • GSM: 300
  • Complete Set: 300 Cards
  • Inspiration: Old Judge (N172) & Buchner Gold Coin (N284)
  • Designed: March, 2013
  • Introduced: May, 2013
  • Completed: August, 2017
  • Current Status: Active
  • Current Frequency of Release: On average, one of each card per year
  • The 1880s: Base Set series debuted on 5/8/2013
  • The 1880s Doc Bushong was the first card I ever sold. The card was purchased for $11.62 by a brave soul in Wind Gap, Pennsylvania
  • 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 Wolf card was released 8/10/2017
  • In the four plus years between the Bushong and Wolf releases, I had issued 2,068 other cards from the series


Most Popular Cards:

  • These cards are presented in reverse order by average winning bid
  • This list is updated whenever changes are necessary
  • Last updated: May 25, 2024