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Boxing Postcards
1. Boxing Postcards 
During the first three decades of the 20th century boxing postcards were the dominant form of boxing card.  Thousands were issued ranging from personal cards made by boxers themselves to mass produced images of the biggest fights.  The 1910 Fight Of The Century between Jack Johnson and Jim Jeffries gave rise to hundreds of cards, everything from whimsical cartoons to very ugly racist cards.  Boxers also used postcards as promotional media for their side businesses and for answering fan mail.  They are found with vintage autographs as a result of the latter practice, though sometimes secretarial.  While postcards continue to be produced even today, the true heyday was in the 1920s, when cheap photographic processes made it economical for anyone who wanted to have real photo postcards made.  I will be offering as wide a range of different boxing PCs as I can on this site for your edification and amusement.  Please enjoy.
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Interesting Exhibit Cards
2. Interesting Exhibit Cards 
Without a doubt the most important issuer of sports cards was the Chicago-based Exhibit Supply Company.  Beginning with its inaugural issue of 1921 and continuing until about 1971 when its last cards were printed, the Exhibit Supply Company, or “ESCO” as its diamond-shaped logo said, was the unparalleled card manufacturer/chronicler of athletics.  

    ESCO began its foray into sports cards in 1921, but it by no means was even primarily a sports card maker.  Indeed, the variety and number of issues by ESCO is rivaled only by the American Tobacco Company.  Every conceivable legitimate subject of popular culture, from movie stars to athletes to strippers, were depicted on Exhibit cards.  Over its 50-year history ESCO made cards of Mack Sennett Studio comedians, western stars, movie and television stars, athletes from every major sport, fighter jets, the Mercury astronauts, jokes, fortunes, Las Vegas showgirls and even Benito Mussolini (really), to name only a smattering of its subjects. We are not likely to ever know precisely how many different cards were issued by ESCO; we can make some rough assessments based on ESCO advertising from the period.  ESCO advertised to arcade owners that it released a new set of cards every 60 days.  Figuring 48 cards per issue (since 32 was minimum but there were many issues of 64 and 128 cards), six issues per year, for a 50 year period, ESCO is likely to have issued in excess of 14,000 cards.

    The method of distribution of Exhibit cards was a unique product of the first half of the 20th century.  Until the period after World War II, Americans did not have the incredible variety of home-delivered amusements that we enjoy today.  Imagine a world without television, video, the Internet or other electronic in-home media.  Only radio existed, and then not until the 1920’s.  When they wanted something to do, people left their homes for bars, movie theatres, boardwalks and arcades.  ESCO manufactured amusement machines for those places: fortune tellers, prize machines, scales and so forth.  Its major development, from our perspective, was the card dispensing machine.  Exhibit cards were the first nationally distributed sports card product sold without any ancillary uses or purposes.  The cards were not for advertising nor were they product premiums.  They themselves were the product.  A store or arcade owner purchased an ESCO vending machine and ESCO sold them refill products for the machines.  ESCO made its real money on the refill orders, not on the machines.  The cards were dispensed for a penny (later, a nickel or dime) to the patron of the store or arcade.  ESCO sold refill cards direct to vendors, although in the 1960’s the company did package its cards into celluloid wrappers for direct sales to consumers (the fact that the company was out of business only a few years after trying direct sales of card packs is proof of the effectiveness of the strategy).  As you can imagine, the vending machines are themselves highly desirable collectible items and routinely sell for hundreds of dollars.  The advertising pieces that went with the machines likewise sell briskly, especially when they depict sports stars.

I start our tour of these unique cards with several baseball related issues.  I then move through various cards of interest with examples of many of the interesting sets in the various realms of Exhibit card collecting.  I will periodically add new and interesting cards of all sports and nonsport subjects as they become available to me, so please check back regularly.

If you wish to contact me about cards you've seen in my albums, please sign the guestbook--your comments will be forwarded to me.  I am always looking for collections to purchase.
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Boxing Cards
3. Boxing Cards  (July 2, 2005)
Welcome to my card gallery!  Please be sure to visit my web site at www.americasgreatboxingcards.com if you haven't already.  

Navigation: Please use the scroll bar above to view the other pages.  I hope you will find them informative and interesting.  

If you would like more information about my boxing card encyclopedia "America's Great Boxing Cards", please go to www.americasgreatboxingcards.com.  In the years since its 1st publication my book has become the reference on boxing cards.  The descriptions below are short excerpts from the book, which also provides detailed write ups and analysis, hundreds of images, and checklists of sets that had never been studied methodically before. Also below are card galleries of various issues, which I am providing for everyone's easy reference.

I will try to make the gallery as close to chronological as I can.

And in answer to a question I frequently get, no, the cards here are not for sale.  This is a museum page dedicated to public education; I don't even own many of them.  Wish I did.  If you are interested in buying boxing cards please use the menu bar at the top to go to the boxing cards for sale page.

Final Note: I moved the strip cards to the Boxing Strip Card page.

Final Final Note: Please look on the Exhibit card page for Exhibit cards of boxers.

Final Final Final Note: there is a substantial postcard page too.
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Boxing Premiums and Ephemera
4. Boxing Premiums and Ephemera  (March 3, 2012)
I feel this area of collecting is significantly distinct from cards to merit its own page.  I define a premium as an item issued by a product or service provider using a boxer's name or image to promote a service or product.  Some are photographs, others are more 'unique' in nature.  Many would be considered part of the card collecting world; some have ACC numbers.

Ephemera is more generalized and covers items that are related or similar to cards in concept, or that are separate collectible classes but that routinely cross over with card collecting.
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Boxing Photographs
5. Boxing Photographs 
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Exhibit Supply Company Page
6. Exhibit Supply Company Page  (January 4, 2015)
This page will endeavor to assemble everything relating to the production, sales, advertising and marketing of  cards and card machines of the Exhibit Supply Company. Catalogs, machine headers, sales sample cards, production materials [artwork, proofs, etc.], and uncut sheets. Cards are featured on another page; please use the navigation bar to go there.  

Please note that the items on the page are not for sale or trade--most aren't even mine.  This page is dedicated to research and education.
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Joe Louis
7. Joe Louis  (November 29, 2014)
Why Joe Louis?  Not only was he the greatest heavyweight of all time [don't take my word, Bert Sugar picked him; "Ringside: The Ten Greatest Heavyweights," ESPN Classic, 1991], he was the most important boxer of the 20th Century.  

The century was bookended by two very influential fighters, Jack Johnson [the first black heavyweight champ] and Muhammad Ali.  However, Louis is the boxer who changed the white public's perception of a black heavyweight champion.  Johnson was a polarizing figure and at the end of his reign he was hated and blacks were hated just the same as before.  Ali was...Ali, but he built himself on the shoulders of Joe Louis.  If there is no Louis, there is no Ali.  Also consider this: Joe Louis became the first black man to be allowed to contend for the heavyweight title in a generation and he did so 10 years before Jackie Robinson set foot in Ebbetts Field.  

Joe Louis was born in Alabama, moved to Detroit as a child, and grew up boxing there.  He won the Golden Gloves tournament and went pro in 1935.  He took the title from Jim Braddock in 1937 and defended it a record 25 times.   

It was as a man where Joe Louis stood out.  He was acutely aware, as were his advisors, that he was a representative of his race and that if he did anything inside or outside the ring that offended the white public he would never get a shot at the title.  His trainers and advisors made him the model of rectitude in public.  Where Johnson was outspoken and flaunted his money and his white wives, Louis was made to be quiet and non-controversial, marrying a black woman, never taunting downed opponents, and never, ever speaking out against the nonsense he had to endure.    

His second fight with Max Schmeling in 1938 was the turning point in white America's view of the black man as athlete.  In 1936 as an up and coming heavyweight he was matched with ex-champion Schmeling who was seen as more of a gatekeeper than a real threat.  Schmeing studied Louis's fights and realized that Louis had a technical flaw in his style: he dropped his lead hand and exposed his jaw when he threw a certain combination.  Schmeling cryptically remarked that he saw something in Louis's style and KO'd Louis in their 1936 bout by exploiting it.  

Schmeling had his own demons to contend with.  After beating Louis he returned to Nazi Germany a national hero, meeting with Hitler and being used by the regime for its racist propaganda.  Schmeling was not a Nazi party member and was not a supporter of their positions [it came out many decades after the fact that he had hidden Jewish children in his Berlin apartment during an officially sanctioned antisemitic riot, at considerable personal peril].  His willingness to be used by the Nazis led to a string of events where the Americans who controlled boxing decided that they would not allow Braddock to risk sending the title to Germany.  Rather than getting a shot at title holder Braddock, Schmeling was denied and the chance was given to Louis, though Louis's management had to cede 10% of their fighter's future earnings to Braddock to get the shot.  

Louis beat Braddock but stated that he did not consider himself the champ until he beat Schmeling.  That bout took place in 1938.  It almost never occurred.  The Nazi regime wanted Schmeling to fire his [Jewish] American manager, but he refused, convincing the Germans that without Joe Jacobs as his manager he stood no shot at getting a title bout.  World War II was less than a year away and to many Americans Schmeling was a symbol of the Nazis.  

The American public reaction to the Schmeling-Louis bout was amazing given the context of the times.  In 1910 Jim Jeffries had been drafted out of retirement to win back the title from Johnson for the white race and after he lost there were race riots across the country.  Many 'white hopes' then were sent to do the job.  The Federal government went after Johnson for allegedly violating the Mann Act by transporting a woman across state lines for immoral purposes.  He ended up roaming around the world fighting, ultimately agreeing to a bout in Havana where he lost the title to Jess Willard, came home, and was thrown in Leavenworth.  In 1938 while preparing for the Schmeling bout, Louis was invited to the White House as a guest.  President Roosevelt heralded him as having the strength America would need to beat the Nazis.  Much of the American public agreed and openly rooted for a black man in a previously unimaginable manner.  

The fight itself stands a a testament to Louis's skills and power.  He had trained out the flaw in his style and perfected his techniques in the two years since the first fight.  Louis simply tore Schmeling to pieces.  Check out the bout on Youtube if you have a chance; it only runs 2 minutes.  The beatdown was so devastating that it put Schmeling in the hospital for ten days with several cracked vertebrae.

When World War II broke out he donated the purses of his title fights to war relief charities and while in the Army was transported all over the world with a team of boxers [including Sugar Ray Robinson] and referee Ruby Goldstein, entertaining the troops in all the theaters of operations.

After the war he fought a few more times then retired as champion.  Louis was forced back into the ring by financial woes, which is when time finally caught up with him.  He went into various ventures like pro wrestling, and lent his name to a variety of products.  Eventually he found his way to Las Vegas, where he worked as a casino host/greeter for a number of casinos and bars until finding a permanent home at Caesar's Palace. where he worked until his death.  A statue of Louis stands in the entry to the casino at Caesar's in tribute to him to this day.
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Boxing Matchbooks
8. Boxing Matchbooks  (September 29, 2011)
A long-acknowledged adjunct of card collecting is matchbook collecting.  As with postcards, the most common form of matchbook is associated with a boxer's restaurant or bar.  The most famous were Jack Dempsey's in New York near Madison Square Garden, and Slapsie Maxie's in Hollywood.  Dempsey was the actual owner and host at his joint and many different matchbooks exist.  Slapsie Maxie's was nominally owned and hosted by Max Rosenbloom but it was quite likely that gangster Mickey Cohen actually controlled it.  Both restaurants have a wide variety of matchbooks that routinely come up for sale, with varying degrees of difficulty associated with them.  Many other fighters tried their hands in the trade, with varying results.  Some, like Abe Attell and Benny Leonard, had little success, and their matchbooks are quite difficult to find.  Others, like Lew Tendler, did quite well, and the common versions of their matchbooks are readily located.  Sugar Ray Robinson owned a restaurant and nightclub in Harlem that did well over the years and there are several versions of his matchbooks. 

Please enjoy this selection of images of boxing matchbooks.  They are not for sale, merely for your edification and amusement.
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Not An Exhibit Card
9. Not An Exhibit Card  (September 2, 2011)
The purpose of this page is to help collectors distinguish between Exhibit cards, other rival arcade cards, and arcade-style cards made by companies other than the Exhibit Supply Company.  Some of the distinctions are still subjects of debate in the card collecting world.  I base my analysis on card styles and materials, advertising data, and in some cases firsthand information from old time collectors.  

The card types shown here vary widely in quality and subject matter.  Some are rare, others are commonly found.  Most of the card types here are misrepresented as Exhibit cards by uninformed sellers when they are offered to the public.
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Academy Awards Memorabilia
10. Academy Awards Memorabilia  (June 7, 2010)
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4 on 1 PC Back Set
11. 4 on 1 PC Back Set  (January 2, 2010)
Presented here are variations on the 4-on-1 Exhibit arcade cards issued based on the Blue Boxer set and the PC Backed set, both ca. 1925-1931.  As you can see, the same art was also used for mixed subject cards with entertainers.
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Boxing Strip Card Gallery
12. Boxing Strip Card Gallery 
I will be updating this section regularly so please check back often.   Please also check my boxing cards for sale page by using the scroll bar above.

Strip cards were issued in the 1920s as a cheap collectible for kids.  Issued in strips of 10 or so or sheets of up to 25 cards, they were meant to be cut apart by the kiddies and played with.  Since they are usually on cheap paper stock and were toys, they are typically found in rotten condiion.  The low quality of the product also leads to many variations and errors in the finished cards.  

What is below is a gallery of various strip card types.
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My Books
13. My Books  (July 6, 2005)
I sell cards and memorabilia on eBay under the user name "exhibitman".  This page links you to my books which are available at Lulu.com.
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Frank "Lefty" O'Doul
14. Frank "Lefty" O'Doul  (June 18, 2005)
Frank "Lefty" O'Doul is the greatest eligible position player not in the Hall of Fame.  Over 970 games (30 shy of the 1,000 used for official records) from 1919 to 1934, Lefty averaged .349, winning two batting championships and setting the NL record for most hits in a season, which still stands.  Not in any way a "homer" like Chuck Klein (whose numbers were greatly aided by playing in a small park in Philly), Lefty hit .352 at home and .347 on the road, proving he belongs among the elite hitters in history.  After his days in the majors ended, he returned to the Pacific Coast League, where he was the longtime manager of the San Francisco Seals and later the San Diego and Seattle teams.  He had a restaurant in San Francisco and was a bon vivant and man about town.  Lefty was instrumental in organizing Japanese baseball, whose premiere team, the Giants, was named in his honor.  Lefty is one of only 3 Americans in the Japanese baseball hall of fame. There are a number of rather rare Japanese cards of him, one of which is shown below.  He is also one of the few players to have played for the Yankees, Dodgers and Giants while all 3 were in New York City.  Lefty died on December 7, 1969.  His epitaph reads "He was here at a good time and had a good time while he was here."
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Freaks and Geeks
15. Freaks and Geeks  (June 25, 2005)
This is a collection of printing and cutting errors.  The process of making cards has always been a complex one with many opportunities for mistakes along the way.  I have been intrigued with printing goofs since I pulled a 1971 Jim Fregosi with a blank back out of a pack when I was a boy.  They don't happen often but when they do, they are really fun.
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