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1931 W517 Strip Card Set

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Fast Facts

Year(s) Issued: 1931
Set Designation: W517-1 (Standard Size), W517-2 (Mini)
Number Cards: 54
Card Size: 3″ x 4″ (1.75" x 2.75" for Mini version)
Common Card Value (Good Condition): $25
Scarcity Rating: (1 to 10, 10 scarcest):  6

Full W517 Checklist

W517 Strip Card Set

Keys For Collectors

  • This fifty-four card strip set is chock full of stars and features two Babe Ruth cards. 
  • Player name, team, league and card number appear on the front.
  • Set was distributed in vertical strips of three cards with dotted lines on the borders.
  • Bit of a rarity with early strip cards, in that it features actual photos instead of crude drawings.
  • Mini version is much scarcer than base size card and tend to sell for 4x-6x the base versions.
  • Cards were also printed with different baseball plays (such as 'Strike Out') at the top and are scarcer.
  • Sepia is the standard color, although other color tints exist (including blue and yellow)
  • Two different sizes were produced and the base version is larger than the typical strip issues.
  • There are more fake W517's in circulation than actual cards, so beware--(more on this below).

W517 Summary:

I love the look of the W517 strip cards as it gets away from some of the crude artwork of prior year strips and provides a full size photo strip card.  Card #20 of the 'Babe' showcases the stern side of Ruth, while the set includes a whole host of Hall of Famers including two Ruth cards, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Eddie Collins and more.  The production of these cards included a smaller version, along with various color variations, making it nearly impossible for any collectors to piece together all of the produced cards.  The confusing part is that mini sized card versions were only produced for a select few subjects.  It is also believed that the differing color variations is due to erroneous printing runs and not due to any plan to issue different colored cards.  

W517 Counterfeits - Tips on Identifying 

There are a lot of W517 counterfeit cards in circulation and for the untrained eye the reprints are quite convincing. The most common reprints have 'W517' printed on the bottom left corner, so if you see that, it's a guaranteed fake.  Also known as the 'Spigler' reprints, as these were produced by Jim Spigler. These were also issued in three card vertical strips. Of course, the scammers are likely to trim the bottoms off to remove the obvious sign, so it can often be a lot harder to tell if the borders are narrow.  Below are uncut reprint strips with the 'W517' in the bottom left corner. 


Here's a fake W517 Ruth that has been noticeably trimmed a bit extra where the 'W517 text should be.  This sort of cut should be a dead giveaway:


Of course, there are also known W517 full size counterfeits which DO NOT have the W517 text on the bottom.  The only true way to identify these reproductions is to get very high resolution scans or if you can look at the card in person, examine with a loupe.  Take a look at the light brown colored borders under magnification; if the cream color is made up of tiny dots of different colors (black, pink, yellow and blue), they are definitely fakes. And if it is real, the brown borders will only show brown dots.  In addition, the dots within the circle that contains the card number should be white without dots. 

The paper stock on the W517 fakes is also an important key to look out for.  The 'Spigler' reprints were made with a slightly whiter card stock, as you can see in the comparison of the back images below.  The differences are hard to tell with a naked eye, but the fakes have a brighter card stock which would flouresce under bright light;  the real cards have a darker greyish color and a thinner card stock.


Back of a 'Spigler' W517 Reprint


Back of an authentic W517 card

W517 Cards for Sale on eBay

1931 W517 Strip Baseball Card #46 Joe Sewell


Buy It on eBay for only: $4,299.99
Buy It Now on eBay