Mort’s Reserve: Series Guide

Set Description:

Mort’s Reserve is heavily inspired by the innovative and rare Mort Rogers Scorecards, circa 1871-1872

Mort Rogers’ Scorecards, 1871-1872

  • Mort Rogers’ “Photographic Score Cards” were produced from 1871 to 1872
  • Mort Rogers was a professional baseball player of some repute, most notably with the Resolute of Brooklyn in the 1860s, but was perhaps more successful as a professional printer and publisher in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Mort published two early weekly sports journals that concentrated on baseball, The Baseballist and the New England Chronicle
  • With the advent of the NAPBBP, baseball’s first officially professional league in 1871, Rogers combined his love and knowledge of the game, printing business & expertise, connections in the sport and entrepreneurial spirt to produce and sell photographic score cards at games, most frequently and perhaps exclusively in Boston
  • While the debate for which card or group of cards deserves recognition as the very first will not soon be settled, Mort Rogers’ Scorecards are on the shortlist and, at the very least, represent the first numbered series of baseball cards
  • Rogers prominently credits the score cards’ photographs to James Wallace Black, a professional photographer with whom Rogers shared office space at 173 Washington Street in Boston
  • While there has never been an organized effort to catalogue Mort Rogers’ Scorecards, my own research may provide some context into the size & scope of the original series and what survives today:
    • 16 unique players are known to exist in the series – (16)
    • Four teams are represented: Boston Red Stockings (11), Philadelphia Athletics (3), Washington Olympics (2) & Cleveland Forest Citys (1)
    • Many of the cards are likely unique, but seven have two known samples – (7)
    • There are 10 known pose variations among 4 players: Harry Wright (4), Cal McVey (4), Harry Shaefer (3), Dave Birdsall (3) – (10)
    • The same image of Andy Leonard is used on mounts for two different teams as he was traded between seasons: the Washington Olympics (1871) & the Boston Red Stockings (1872) – (the Red Stockings mount was originally made for a Harry Wright image) – (1)
    • 16 players + 7 duplicates + 10 pose variations + 1 player on two different mounts = 34 total score cards known to exist
    • 1 unmounted photo of Sam Jackson from the series is known to exist, presumably having been removed from its scorecard mount
    • Although they have not been found on score cards, there are images and/or pose variations of the Red Stockings’ Ross Barnes, Sam Jackson & Frank Barrows that appear to have been taken within the same photoshoot as the other Red Stockings, suggesting that a greater variety of score cards were planned and perhaps produced than that which survives today
    • Just 9 score cards have survived fully intact in their original gatefold design
    • 25 of the score cards have been cut in half and/or further trimmed to display just the card front or, in some cases, just the player’s image
    • The 34 known Mort Rogers’ Scorecards are likely owned by 5 or 6 individuals and institutions
  • Mort Rogers’ Scorecards measure 3.5″ by 5″ when folded, 7″ x 5″ when unfolded

“The new Photographic Score Card which was introduced to the public in the Boston-Athletic match May 20th, will again be introduced in the Boston-Chicago match, June 24, and a different photograph will appear at every match game during the balance of the season.”

Mort Rogers, May 31, 1871


“A new invention in the score card line, and one that is destined to supersede all other such arrangements now in use, made its appearance on the Union grounds in the games of Monday and Tuesday. It is an ordinary large sized score card, with a photograph of some prominent ball player pasted on the outside of each. The whole arrangement is very neat and complete. Mr. Mortimer Rogers, of Boston, and a member of the Boston base ball club party, is the originator of the device.”

Cincinnati Daily Gazette, July 7, 1871


“Mort Rogers, of Boston, now with the club, has gotten out an exceedingly neat photographic score card. The series which he proposes to publish, will comprise pictures of every professional ball player in the country, and will make a valuable collection.”

Cleveland Leader, July 13, 1871


Ars Longa: Mort’s Reserve

  • Mort’s Reserve was conceived as a companion series to the Pioneer Portraits I: 1850-1874 series of Ars Longa Art Cards
  • Mort’s Reserve strives to further honor Mort Rogers’ groundbreaking contribution to our hobby by adhering more closely to his original vision and execution, even indulging a bit in some of his sloppiness
  • Mort’s Reserve features the scorecards’ original dimensions (when folded), replicated original advertising, and oval player photographs manually affixed to Mort’s original ornate mount
  • Subject images are printed on high-resolution premium luster photo paper, giving the images a never-before-seen richly colored depth with a warm vintage hue
  • Like Mort’s original scorecards, the subjects’ photographs are fastidiously and permanently affixed to a thick cardboard mount, providing a durable and attractive frame for the photograph
  • The reverse of the mini-cabinet is a mostly faithful replicate of the scorecards’ original reverse, veering just far enough off-course to provide my own branding and production date stamp

Before & After:

Card Reverses:

  • The original Mort Rogers’ Scorecards advertising has been used on the backs of all Mort’s Reserve cards from 2017 to present
  • In order to preserve every advertisement that appeared on the original scorecards and display them equally, I will be changing the advertising space occupied by the Ars Longa brand from year-to-year
  • The copyright & date stamp on the Mort’s Reserve reverse is updated yearly
Mort Rogers’ Scorecards,
Mort’s Reserve, L1 reverse
Ars Longa Brand, left column, 1st row

Mort’s Reserve, L2 reverse
Ars Longa Brand, left column, 2nd row

Size, Weight, Design, History & Status:

  • Dimensions: 3.5″ x 5″
  • Thickness: 40 pts
  • GSM: 500
  • Current Number in Set: 12 Cards
  • Inspiration: Mort Rogers Scorecards, 1871-1872
  • Designed: June, 2017
  • Introduced: June, 2017
  • Completed: This series is still a work in progress
  • Current Status: Active
  • Current Frequency of Release: On average, one of each card per year