Pilgrims: Series Guide

Set Description:

The Pilgrims series is heavily inspired by the 1911 Mecca Double Folders (T201) and seeks to both preserve and enhance many aspects of the original Mecca series.

1911 Mecca Double Folders (T201)

  • The 1911 Mecca Double Folders (T201) were produced and issued by the American Tobacco Company and inserted into packs of Mecca Cigarettes
  • Featuring color lithographs of 100 different ballplayers on 50 tall and narrow cards (2 3/16” x 4 3/4“), the innovative design contains a full-length portrait of one player on the front and the inverted upper-body of another player on the top third of the reverse; so that when the top-third of the card is folded forward, the half-player on the reverse meets the front of the card at the first player’s knees, forming a new image of a second player
  • The two players who combine to make a single card are, in every case, teammates
  • the Mecca Double Folders were among the first baseball cards to feature statistics. Both players’ statistics are printed on the bottom two-thirds of the reverse, along with an advertisement claiming that Mecca Cigarettes provide “Perfect Satisfaction”
  • The set features players from the American, National, and Eastern Leagues and the American Association
  • The inclusion of two minor leagues made for some pretty obscure player depictions, to the curious exclusion of many prominent major league stars, such as Eddie Plank, Cy Young & Honus Wagner

Ars Longa: Pilgrims

  • The Pilgrims name came into use early in the set’s development, being the first word I free-associated with the word Mecca
  • While I originally intended for the Pilgrims to mirror the Meccas precisely, in which colorized photographs of all 100 players would be matched with their original Mecca backgrounds, I could not find images for many of the obscure players in the set. After wrestling with that dilemma, I decided to replace those obscure players with the notable omissions from the original set, including umpires, managers and negro leaguers
  • Like the 1880s series, the style for the Pilgrims evolved over time. As stated above, my original intention was to maintain the integrity of the original Mecca artwork and simply place a colorized photograph of the player on his Mecca background. While I was striving for one interpretation of authenticity, I learned from customers that a different interpretation of authenticity was preferred – a sharp, crisp, clean, vibrant, and richly colored interpretation; and furthermore, that my attempts to match each player to his original Mecca background wasn’t a priority for people. The message was clear: pay less homage to the Meccas and strive towards greater originality with the Pilgrims
  • So my work evolved as I used the Mecca backgrounds as canvases, upon which I added environmental and architectural elements such as grass and buildings to increase the photorealism, depth, vibrancy and color palette of the original Meccas. If you compare an original Mecca to its Pilgrim counterpart, you will find striking similarities, but the style evolved to the point where the Mecca canvas became a starting point for something new & unique in its own right
  • Creating the Pilgrims has been a great adventure and learning process. The Pilgrims mark a turning point in my development as an artist: that moment when a unique and discernible style emerged from a rudimentary idea. It’s been a true labor of love and discovery, a project nearly 3,000 hours in the making, and I am thrilled by the response
  • As always, I am grateful, humbled and honored by your interest and support. Thank you for being here!

Before & After:

1. Johnson - Before

Walter Johnson

Mecca Double Folder (T201)

Walter Johnson

Ars Longa: Pilgrims

Card Reverses:

  • Every subject in the Pilgrims series has his own statistical or informational box on the reverse
  • Each card release features one of twenty different, era-specific, vintage images, all shown below
  • I record and track the image I use on the reverse of each and every card. I then rotate the images with each new release in order to cycle each subject in the series through all 20 reverses over time
  • Depending upon the release schedule of the series, which may vary year to year, it will take 10-12 years for any one subject to be released with the same reverse twice
Otto Bicycle

Armillary Sphere

Hot Air Balloon

Ars Longa Girl

Dirigible & Wagon

Grecian Bust

Goupil’s Flying Machine

Victorian Hat

Hoop Rolling

Mucha Girl #1

Mucha Girl #2

Penny Farthing


La Minerve

Sewing Machine

Victorian Woman


Victorian Woman with Umbrella

Art Nouveau Woman

Gibson Girl

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

  • Dimensions: 2.25″ x 4.75″
  • Thickness: 24 pts
  • GSM: 300
  • Complete Set: 100 cards
  • Inspiration: 1911 T201 Mecca Double Folders
  • Designed: July, 2013
  • Introduced: July, 2013
  • Completed: May, 2015
  • Current Status: Active
  • Current Frequency of Release: On average, one of each card per year
  • Of the 100 subjects depicted in the Pilgrims series, 54 appear in the original Mecca set. They each appear here on an inspired re-imagining of their original Mecca backgrounds
  • Conversely, 46 of the Pilgrims did not appear in the original Mecca set. These subjects appear here on the Mecca backgrounds of the more obscure original players
  • The most curious omissions from the original Mecca series include Honus Wagner, Cy Young, Eddie Plank, Joe Tinker, Joe Wood & Harry Hooper; all of whom have Pilgrims cards
  • Ultimately, the Pilgrims set expands upon the Mecca series to include 50 Hall of Famers, 7 Negro Leaguers and 4 Umpires


Most Popular Cards:

  • The five most popular Pilgrims are presented here in reverse order by average winning bid
  • This list is updated whenever changes are necessary
  • Last updated: June 12, 2024