I don't know where it was found or the background information behind the card.
Several collectors have speculated that this was a file copy maintained by the Leaf Gum Company. The split background color, along with some of the info on the back, leads many to believe that it was designed to be issued in the first series of cards.
Whether or not contractual issues kept Leaf from issuing the card remains to be seen, but it is definitely fascinating.
1949 Leaf "Prototype" Card Found
For nearly six decades, the 1949 Leaf card set is known to have 98 cards produced in two series of 49 cards each. As detailed in Ted Zanidakis' article "1949 R401 Leaf Gum Company: Most Challenging of all "R" Sets?" (Old Cardboard magazine, Issue #9, Fall 2006, p. 32-39), only three "variation" cards have ever been reported. All three of these are relative minor variations based on the same player pose.
As might be imagined, the discovery of a never-before-reported "variation" card of Hall of Fame pitcher Hal Newhouser was met with some disbelief when it was revealed on the Vintage Baseball Card Forum late last month. The previously unreported card has been graded by PSA and displays an entirely different pose than the production card familiar to collectors of the set.
The fronts and backs of both cards are compared here. As seen, there are also notable differences in the card backs, especially in the narrative information about Newhouser's career. The promotion on the bottom one-third of the card remains unchanged.
Upon close observation, several hobby experts have concluded that this "mystery" card is definitely for real. They speculate that it was designed to be printed in the 1st series of 49 cards in the set. This speculation is based in part on the fact that the "split-color" background design used in the "prototype" is found only in the 1st Series. All of the 49 cards in the short-printed 2nd Series use a solid single-color background. Further, minor differences such as the wording "left-handed" (vs "left") for Newhouser's statistics printed on the card backs is wording that is found only on some of the 1st Series cards and not on any of the cards from the 2nd Series.
The reasons that the Newhouser "prototype" was not used in the production of the 1st series can also only be speculation at this time. Most collectors who have observed the card in person, however, agree that the prototype card is more attractive than Newhouser's production card issued with the second series.
According to Bill Huggins of Huggins & Scott Auctions, the card just showed up "with one of our customers that walked into our Baltimore store." After investigation and getting second opinions from several hobby old timers, Huggins determined that the card was in fact real and no doubt produced by Leaf in the early stages of the development of the set. Under consignment, Huggins expects to sell the card in one of their auctions early next year.
eNews Issue #54 (October 2008) / OLD CARDBOARD
Edited by EARLSWORLD (02/06/0902:30 PM)
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