1921 W551 Strip Card Set

w551-ruth

Front

w551-ruth-back

Back

Fast Facts

Year(s) Issued: 1921
Set Designation: W551
Number Cards: 10 (40 in total multi-sport set)
Card Size: 1 3/8″ x 2 1/4″ 
Common Card Value (Good Condition): $25
Scarcity Rating: (1 to 10, 10 scarcest):  6

Full W551 Checklist

W551 Cards on eBay


W551 Strip Card Set

Keys For Collectors

  • Forty card multi-sport set that features ten cards of baseball players  
  • Star-studded set features Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson and Tris Speaker
  • Cards in blue text are reprints, and likely part of a Fritsch reprint issue that have been aged
  • Other reprints of this set exist with the Ruth and Cobb commonly found as 'aged reprints'
  • Some uncut strips exist and often feature two players side by side (see PSA checklist for more details)
     

W551 Summary:

This ten card strip set is one of the most commonly known strip issues, due to the star power of the release and quality of the overall artwork.  These cards like most other strip sets were either sold or given away in markets or candy stores.  The Ruth and Cobb cards offer vintage collectors with a more affordable alternative versus some of their early gum or exhibit issues.  

Beware of W551 Counterfeits!

Back in the 70's and 80's, Fritsch cards produced reprint sets and some of them included strips from the W551 set. The cards were meant to be just a collector's item; yet the quality was so good, than many counterfeiters have artificially aged them to pawn them off as the real deal.  The key is that Fritsch used blue text in the player and team name to distinguish from the original black text.  The reprint sets later stamped the word 'Reprint' to the back of the cards, but the damage had already been done.

There are many scammers on eBay trying to pass off the blue text versions as the real deal.  In fact, one collector friend I know owned a Tris Speaker that was graded by PSA, thus even the third party graders have been fooled.  And even recently I came across a very reputable eBay seller with an assortment of W551 strips.  He purchased the cards from another reputable vintage dealer and both had been completely fooled.  The scammers had even worked the backs to make it seem like the cards were stuck to albums at one point.  

Here's a look at the eBay reprints i came across:

w551-cobb-speaker-reprints

At first glance, they look old, and for the untrained eye, probably would be willing to accept that they are real.  And even under the blacklight, there was no fluorescence.  

w551-reprints-blacklight

Here's a closer look at a authentic W551 Cobb (on left) and a newer version of a Fritsch reprint (on the right)

cobb-real-reprint-w551

As you can see from the above image, the fake Cobb has a definitive dot pattern and a lot of extra red dots in the white space at the bottom of the card.  In addition the background is a darker blue. As you'll notice from the first photo above of the aged reprint, the Cobb card has the same sorts of patterns, and of course the blue text.

Here's a closeup of the red dots on bat of an authentic W551 Cobb card.  As my buddy Frank says, "it should look like a Lichtenstein" and you'll see blotches of ink and a dot matrix sort of pattern which are consistent with the printing methods of the day. 

cobb-w551

If it's under microscope and it looks more splotchy (like in the fake example below), well, you have a problem.  Remember the blacklight test on these reprints is normally inconclusive, so watch out for that blue text, and bring your loupe to evaluate close if you can see it in person. 

cobb-w551-reprint

W551 Cards for Sale on eBay

Original 1921 W551 Uncut Strip w/ Walter Johnson, George Sisler, Casey Stengel,

$2,500.00  
End Date: Tuesday Sep-28-2021 16:34:23 EDT
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1921 W-551 Boxing strip card Pancho Villa.EX+! SGC Auth.Look at details and pics

$275.00  
End Date: Thursday Sep-30-2021 21:07:50 EDT
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1921 W551 Complete Uncut Strip Babe Ruth/Ty Cobb RARE COMPLETE PIECE!!!

$99,999.99  
End Date: Thursday Oct-14-2021 21:25:01 EDT
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1921 W551 Johnny Dundee Strip Card Junior Lightweight Champion Boxing

$9.99  
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1921 W551 W.T Bill Tilden Rookie Strip Tennis Card VG Hand Cut William Rare

$239.99  
End Date: Thursday Sep-30-2021 14:08:19 EDT
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RARE 1921 W551 JOHNNY WILSON PSA A, HAND CUT BOXING STRIP CARD, VG+

$55.00  
End Date: Saturday Oct-09-2021 13:58:42 EDT
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1921 " WALTER HOOVER " ROWING STRIP CARD W-551 # HAND CUT IN 1920's

$4.99  
End Date: Wednesday Sep-22-2021 21:00:01 EDT
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RARE 1921 W551 JOHNNY WILSON GMA HAND CUT AUTHENTIC BOXING STRIP CARD, G

$23.50  
End Date: Monday Oct-11-2021 14:38:05 EDT
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1921 W551 Strip Card Jesse Barnes GAI Authentic

$58.89  
End Date: Saturday Oct-16-2021 07:51:29 EDT
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PSA 4 1921 W551 STRIP CARD WILLIE HOPPE Billiards Champion

$125.00  
End Date: Friday Sep-24-2021 14:01:40 EDT
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1921 W551 Strip Card Walter Hoover

$29.99  
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1921 W551 Strip Card Johnny Kilbane

$29.29  
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JESS BARNES - 1921 W551 Hand Cut Strip Card - New York Giants - Blank back

$125.00  
End Date: Monday Oct-11-2021 11:52:59 EDT
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1921 W551 Johnny Kilbane Strip Card Hand Cut

$11.99  
End Date: Thursday Sep-23-2021 08:38:28 EDT
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1921 W551 BASEBALL STRIP CARD JESS BARNES NEW YORK GIANTS

$42.50  
End Date: Wednesday Sep-29-2021 11:29:53 EDT
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1920 W551 HALL OF FAMER GIANTS DAVE BANCROFT HAND-CUT STRIP CARD

$75.00  
End Date: Monday Oct-18-2021 10:51:06 EDT
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1921 W551 Strip Card Norma Talmadge

$3.70  
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1921 W551 Strip Card Johnny Kilbane

$8.59  
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1921 W551 Strip Card Joe Lynch

$8.59  
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RARE 1921 W551 DAVE BANCROFT, GMA A STRIP CARD, GIANTS - HALL OF FAME

$55.25  
End Date: Monday Sep-27-2021 10:08:37 EDT
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