1929 Chicago Cubs Certified Ice Cream Pins

The 1929 Chicago Cubs/Certified Ice Cream Pins

The 1929 Chicago Cubs were featured in three team pins. The first is an oval, and pictures the team members in a group shot. The other two are 3″ in diameter and feature individual head shots. These two pins were elegantly designed and richly crafted. Furthermore, one is a derivative of the other, and both spawned pins (1″) of individual players.

The original pin promoted a local business, the Certified Ice Cream Company. Historical business records indicate the company was located at 1638 Gerard Avenue in Chicago. The pin shows 21 head shots in the pattern of a baseball, along with the words, “Compliments of Certified Ice Cream Co.” It is not known how, why, or where these pins were distributed to the public. It is unknown why the Certified Ice Cream Company elected to promote their company through the pins for the 1929 season. Five stars of the 1929 Chicago Cubs team were selected for presentation on individual pins: Bush, Cuyler, Hornsby, Stephenson, and Wilson. These pins feature the same head shot of the player presented on the team pin. However, unlike the team pin made of celluloid, these individual player pins were lithographs.

Certified large 054

The inscription on the individual player pins is “Certified’s Ice Cream Sold at Wrigley Field.” It is not known why the possessive (“Certified’s”) was on the individual player pins while the singular (“Certified”) was used on the team pin. Perhaps the individual player pins were distributed over the course of the 1929 season at Wrigley Field, while the team pin was distributed in some other fashion.

Certified small055

The second team pin was issued very late in the 1929 season or after the World Series. The pin was made by excising the inscription pertaining to the Certified Ice Cream Company and replacing it with “Souvenir Chicago Cubs 1929 Champions.” A careful inspection of the pin reveals where the cuts were made in the original paper, permitting insertion of the new inscription. The Cubs easily won the National League pennant (by 10.5 games) and were scheduled to play four of the World Series games at Wrigley Field. The pin was likely sold as a souvenir at Wrigley Field during the 1929 World Series, or during the following season.

Certified large WS053

Likewise, individual player pins were also created to celebrate the Cubs winning the National League pennant. However, because lithograph pins involve the direct application of ink to metal, unlike with the celluloid team pin, the individual player pins could not be converted from the original ice cream pins. The player’s image remained as before, but the inscription was changed. The new inscription read, “Souvenir Chicago Cubs 1929 World Series.”

Certified small WS052

The two respective sets of pins differ in scarcity, but not uniformly. The 3″ Certified Ice Cream team pin is much more scarce than its 1929 World Series counterpart. The reverse holds true for the individual player pins. The individual player ice cream pins are scarce, but they do enter the market (individually or collectively) on a sporadic basis. However, the individual player World Series pins are extremely rare. I have only seen two or three of the five. Completing both sets of six pins each would be a spectacular accomplishment for the advanced collector.

Next up:  Overprints and Overlays

Leo Must Go & Leo Must Stay Pins

Leo Must Go & Leo Must Stay Pins

There are thousands of baseball pinback buttons to collect.  For the vast majority of them, we have no idea who made them or why they were made.  Uncertainty is endemic to the hobby.  If only we could absolutely pinpoint the source of a pin.  It is exceedingly rare to do so.  With two pins I have been able to do just that.  But as is so typical, not completely.

Leo Durocher was manager of the Cubs from 1966 to half-way through the 1972 season.  In 1969 the Cubs lead the National League East Division for much of the season before being overtaken by the New York Mets.  The Cubs had a very fine team with four future Hall-of-Famers.  A pair of 1.25” pins appeared late in 1969.  One said, “Leo Must Go” and the other “Leo Must Stay.”  But where did these pins come from?

Leo must go (small)046

Leo must stay (small)047

I was able to locate the exact source.  A novelty company in Chicago entitled “I. C. Sport Specialties” sponsored the pins.  The address of the company was P.O. Box 491, Northbrook, IL  60062.  A small flyer approximately 3” x 4” tells the story.

“Cub fans!  Put in your 2 cents worth.  We‘re neutral, but some fans say Leo Durocher is the best thing to hit Chicago.  Others say he had all the ‘horses’ to be in this year’s World Series. As a public service, *I.C. Sport Specialties will conduct the ballot.  Just send 2 cents!  That’s right, only 2 cents each for the button you want that shows where you stand, Cub fans.  (Remember friends, business associates, fellow fans, etc., when you order).  Checks, money orders payable to I.C. Sport Specialties.  *Incredibly Creative”

An envelope from the company lists “I.C. (Irv) Haag, Pres.”  The envelope also states the company is “The creator of Chicago Cubs Song Hey Hey Holy Mackerel” and “Boosterrocks.”

The envelope has a June 1970 postmark.  The cost of a first-class postage stamp at the time was 6 cents.  Given the wording in the ad, it appears the buttons became available either after the World Series or after the Cubs were eliminated from contention.  The thought of sending a check or money order for 2 cents (the minimum order) with the cost of a postage stamp being 6 cents (there is no mention that the buyer had to pay for postage or handling) is quaint by today’s standards.  Mr. I.C. Haag was resourceful enough to turn his first and middle initial into the name of the company, but also a marketing slogan (“Incredibly Creative”).

This is truly a delightful story, one that I wish accompanied every baseball pinback button.  But reality has a way of crashing into wishes.  Alas, even this story is not complete.

These two pins also came in a larger size, 3.5”.  No mention is made of them in the ad, and if Mr. Haag also sold these pins for 2 cents apiece, he would have lost money on every sale.  I don’t know if the I.C. Sport Specialties Company made the larger pins, but the 3.5” pin is not just a larger version of the 1.25” pin.  A careful inspection of the pins reveals the “Leo” and the “Go” and “Stay” fonts are the same (as is the exclamation point), differing only in size.  But the word “Must” is in a different font.  Also, in the larger version of the pin the underline ends before the exclamation point, but in the smaller version it extends partially under it.  Even after you have established a pin’s identity, you discover there is more to the story.

Leo must go (largel)050

Leo must stay (largel)051

Next up:  The 1929 Chicago Cubs and Certified Ice Cream Pins

The Deer Club Pins

The Deer Club

Some very obscure baseball pins refer to “The Deer Club.” I know of four Deer Club pins, there might be a fifth, and possibly more. The Deer Club baseball pins contain references to New York baseball. The Deer Club was the name selected for a charitable organization by its founder, John E. Moran. The Deer Club was established in 1915, and was located at 1251 Coney Island Boulevard in Brooklyn. The organization raised funds to purchase food, clothing, and toys for needy children, especially at holiday time.

Only one Deer Club pin is dated. The pin references “Moran’s Deer Club” and celebrates the Dodgers “champions 1940.” The date could be an error, as the Dodgers won the National League Pennant in 1941, not 1940. Alternatively, perhaps the pin merely expresses support for Brooklyn’s beloved Dodgers.

Welcome Home Brooklyn Dodgers

There are two 1¼” pins, one depicting Leo Durocher and the other Charlie Dressen, both wearing a Dodger uniform. Durocher was manager of the Dodgers from 1939 to 1946, and Dressen was his third base coach in the same time period. The pins state, “Deer Club Favorite.” One can only speculate on the reason for issuance of each pin. Perhaps both men were featured guests at fund raising receptions held at the Deer Club.

Deer Club Dressen041

Deer Club Durocher043

The fourth pin is the basis for surmising there might be a fifth pin. This 3” pin features images of three people, Durocher and Dressen in the same pose as found in their individual pins, along with that of Freddie Fitzsimmons. Fitzsimmons played for the New York Giants from 1925 to 1937, and for the Dodgers from 1937 to 1943. Fitzsimmons is pictured wearing a Giants uniform. It is unknown what the occasion would have been for issuance of the Durocher-Dressen-Fitzsimmons pin. The pin suggests there might be an individual pin of Fitzsimmons, a mate to the Durocher and Dressen pins. If the Deer Club featured a New York baseball personality as part of its annual charitable fund raising, perhaps there are other individual pins issued in the late 1930s and early 1940s. If the Deer Club got a member of the New York Giants involved in their fund raising, perhaps in other years members of the New York Yankees participated as well.

Deer Club Durocher044

The Deer Club baseball pins are among the most arcane of regionally issued memorabilia.

Next up:  Leo Must Go & Leo Must Stay Pins

Luxello Cigar Pin Set

The Luxello Cigar Baseball Pin Set

The pins comprising the Luxello Cigar set (referenced as P13) offer an enchanting glimpse into baseball history. The set features players from the Philadelphia Athletics and the Philadelphia Phillies. There is a story to be told about this set, replete with intriguing subplots. The story begs answers to several questions. Some are more readily answerable than others.

Baker 2Schettler

The graphic design of the set is richly elegant. Each pin depicts a head shot of a player. At the 3:00 and 9:00 positions are matching symmetrical images. The outer portion of the image shows a horseshoe (presented with such precision that eight nail holes are readily observable). Within each horseshoe is an image or logo. It appears to be a monogram consisting of three overlapping letters. Each letter appears to be the letter “L” in a script font, but the fonts are of different styles.
There are two manners of dress for the players. Some are featured wearing a uniform, while others appear in the formal dress attire of the day (high white collar with a tie). Each player’s full name (first and last) is given, and some also have either a first or middle initial. Following the name a baseball position is listed. Presented above the player’s name and position is the team name. The two respective names are “Athletics” and “Philadelphia NATL.”
Two immediate questions are evident. Why were the Philadelphia Athletics players listed as “Athletics,” while the Philadelphia Phillies players were listed as “Philadelphia NATL?” Why not “Athletics” and “Phillies” or “Philadelphia AMER” and “Philadelphia NATL?” Second, why were some players depicted in uniform while others were not?

Based on the individual players presented, the pins were made in 1910. But was the set made before the start of the season or following its conclusion? The presence of the horseshoe is a sign of good luck, suggesting the pins were issued prior to the start of the season. Other pin sets of the era (as the Hermes Ice Cream set featuring the 1909 Pittsburg Pirates) were made following the season and celebrated their championship that year. One player featured in the set (Tully Sparks) played his last game on June 8, 1910. While the Athletics would go on to win the World Series in 1910, the evidence indicates the Luxello pins were made prior to the season.

The pins (7/8” diameter) were manufactured by the Parisian Novelty Company of Chicago (so identified on the curl). I could find no business records of a tobacco company named “Luxello.” Since the pins depict players from Philadelphia, it would be reasonable to conclude Luxello was a company based in or near Philadelphia. There were many companies that made pinback buttons in this era, including several located in Philadelphia. It was not unusual for pinmakers in one city to produce pins promoting the products of companies from other cities. However, Luxello would have had no shortage of pinmakers from Philadelphia. The reason for their choice of a Chicago-based company is unknown.

The Manifest
The manifest refers to the specific pins comprising a set. To commission this set of pins, Luxello would have told the Parisian Novelty Company which players were to be included. Luxello would also have to specify the size of the production run. The greater the size of the production run, the lower the per-unit cost of each pin. The size of the production run is unknown, but based on the scarcity of the Luxello pins, it was probably a very small run.
The manifest becomes the “checklist” of pins to be collected for hobbyists. As is the case with most pinback buttons in sets, there is no known manifest. Pins in sets become known when they “turn up” (the verb of choice in the hobby). If at some point either Luxello or the Parisian Novelty Company ever published the manifest, it has been lost to history.
The pins comprising the set have long been a mystery to pinback button collectors. For many years the set was believed to have 21 pins, 11 for the Athletics and 10 for the Phillies. A 22nd pin turned up around 2000, and shortly thereafter a 23rd pin. As of this writing I have identified the 24th and 25th pins to the set. I strongly believe there is a 26th pin, plausibly a 27th, and possibly a 28th.
The existence of the 26th pin is provided courtesy of Luxello being precise in listing the specific position of each player. A reasonable way to plan such a set would be to identify eight position players and then include several pitchers. It is through the logic of this approach I have deduced the existence of a 26th pin. Here is the identity of the players for each team by position as presented on each pin.
…                                     Athletics                              Phillies
1st                                     Davis                              Bransfield
2nd                                   Collins                                 Knabe
SS                                     Barry                                  Doolan
3rd                                    Baker                                  Grant
LF                                     Hartsel                                 Bates
CF                                 Heitmiller                                   ?
RF                                    Murphy                                 Titus
C                                  Livingston                                 Dooin
P                                     Coombs                                 Moore
P                                      Morgan                                 Moren
P                                        Plank                               McQuillen
P                                      Krause                                Schettler
P                                       Dygert                                  Sparks

Additional Pins to the Set?
The two most recently identified pins are Bransfield and Hartsel. Would Luxello commission a set of pins, player by position, and omit the centerfielder for the Phillies? Not likely. So who is the most likely candidate to be the 26th pin in the set? Sherwood (Sherry) Magee. Magee was the star player of the team. Although unknowable at the start of the 1910 season, Magee would go on that year to have the best year of his career. He would lead the league in hitting (.331) and break the string of batting titles by Honus Wagner. While his performance in 1909 was not as sterling, he led all Phillies outfielders in games played that year with 143. While the evidence clearly suggests Magee is the 26th player, mystery remains. Throughout his career Magee mostly played left field, not centerfield. In the Luxello pin set it is Bates who is listed as the leftfielder. Why? Is Magee the only possible candidate to be the missing centerfielder? The Phillies had reserve outfielders, but they played very sparingly. So unless something is really amiss, there is a 26th pin, the player would be listed as playing centerfield for the Phillies, and the overwhelming choice is Magee.
The existence of a 27th pin is speculative, but it is highly plausible. With all eight positions covered, it obviously would be a pitcher. The Luxello set contains five pitchers per team. Why might there might be a sixth pitcher? The answer lies in who is missing from the set. In 1909 Eddie Plank led the Athletics with 19 wins. The remaining four pitchers from the Athletics featured in the Luxello set were Harry Krause (18 wins), Cy Morgan (16), Jack Coombs (12), and Jimmy Dygert (6). Missing from this group is Charles (Chief) Bender, who had the same record in 1909 as Krause (18-8). Why would Luxello create a pin of Krause (and Dygert) but not future Hall-of-Famer Bender? If there is a pin for a sixth pitcher on the Athletics, Bender would be the obvious choice.
The possible existence of a 28th pin is a long stretch. It is based on the social desirability of equality and symmetry. Nothing more. If a Bender pin exists (and also assuming Luxello selected a player to be the centerfielder for the Phillies), we would have 14 pins for the Athletics but only 13 pins for the Phillies. We would need a sixth pitcher for the Phillies to make it 14 pins for each team, and a total of 28 for the set. Earl Moore, Lew Moren, and George McQuillan, respectively, led the 1909 Phillies in wins. The next two pitchers in wins were Frank Corriden and Harry Coveleski, neither of whom was on the 1910 team. Tully Sparks was next in wins, and he is included in the Luxello pin set. The fifth Phillies pitcher in the Luxello set is Lou Schettler, who wasn’t on the 1909 team. If there is a sixth Phillies pitcher, there is no likely candidate from the 1909 team who also played on the 1910 team. The only other pitcher who played for the Phillies in both 1909 and 1910 is Bill Foxen. Foxen had a record of 3-7 in 1909. However, the Phillies had several pitchers new to the team in 1910. Schettler was one (his only year in the Major Leagues), along with Bob Ewing and Eddie Stack. In the 1910 season Ewing would be second to Moore in wins with 16. He joined the Phillies in 1910 at age 37, and was the oldest player on the team. As a player new to the Phillies, perhaps he was not deemed worthy of having a pin made of him. The other pitcher, Eddie Stack, was the youngest player on the team (22), and perhaps little was expected of him. In short, if there is a sixth Phillies pitcher to the Luxello set, the two most likely candidates are highly unlikely: the oldest player and the youngest player, both new to the team in 1910.

Some Possible Answers
The history of baseball in Philadelphia provides insights as to why the Luxello pins were designed as they were. This information is provided in a blog “Philly Sports History” written by Michael Lalli. In November 1909 the Phillies were purchased by Horace Fogel. Before the start of the 1910 season, Fogel announced the name Phillies was too trite. Furthermore, an old name for the team, the Quakers, suggested a team unwilling to fight. Fogel wanted his 1910 team to be called the Philadelphia Live Wires, and designed a new logo for the team featuring an eagle grasping sparking wires. Lalli indicated the new name wasn’t popular with the sportswriters or fans, who continued to refer to the team as the Phillies. Luxello could not have known at the start of the 1910 season if the team would be known as the “Live Wires” or the “Phillies.” Accordingly, on the Luxello pins the Athletics players were identified as “Athletics,” while the Live Wires (or Phillies) players were identified as “Philadelphia NATL.”
Lalli also offers a possible clue as to the differing manners of dress for the players on the Luxello pins. Lalli stated Fogel completely redesigned the uniforms for the 1910 season, going from black trim on white or grey to green on white while adding a large Old-English “P.” All 13 Luxello pins of Athletics players picture them in uniform. About half of the known Phillies pins show the players in street clothes, including the newcomer Lou Schettler. While the differences between teams in manner of dress are not as definitive as their team identification, the uncertain status of the Philadelphia Phillies at the start of the 1910 season is reflected in the design of the Luxello Cigar pins.
The linguistic style of the players’ names presented on these pins is unique to the Luxello set. Baseball players are typically referenced by their nicknames, not their formal birth names. In this set only one nickname is used. The formal first name of Hartsel is “Tully,” but in this set his nickname was used (“Topsy”). Several players had their birth name used rather than their nickname: John (Jack) Coombs, James H. (Jimmy) Dygert, Louis (Lou) Schettler, Harry (Cy) Morgan, and William (Kitty) Bransfield. Initials were used in various combinations: Eddie S. Plank, J. Frank Baker, and T. F. Sparks. Abbreviated first names were also used: Wm. Heitmiller, Wm. E. Bransfield, Ed. L. Grant, Chas. S. Dooin, and Geo. McQuillan. One player’s last name was misspelled: Hartsel is spelled “Hartsell.”
The Luxello Cigar pin set is a majestic tribute to baseball. Uncertainty surrounds the set, adding to its lore. The past is reluctant to yield its secrets.

Next up: The Deer Club Pins


Baseball Pinback Buttons

Welcome to Baseball Pinback Buttons! I got the idea for this blog from my passionate interest in sports-related pinback buttons, especially baseball. There is often an element of ambiguity, if not mystery, in collecting baseball pinback buttons. Such is part of the lore of collecting them. Unlike cards, most pinback buttons were not issued in sets. And unlike stamps and coins, there are no spaces or holes to be filled in an album. Pinback buttons turn up in the hobby after spending years squirreled away in a desk drawer or shoe box. Discovering their existence adds to the joy of collecting. Learning more about a pin can be as enjoyable as adding it to your collection. The pinback collector has to accept the frustration of not knowing a pin’s history. The purpose of this blog is to share information about baseball pinback buttons as a basis to increase our understanding of them. Beware the person who frequently states definitive answers to the identity of baseball pinback buttons. I have been collecting for over 50 years and I still have much to learn. Through this blog I will share what I know with fellow collectors.
I will post at least one or two columns per month. There will be no particular order to the columns. Some will be on individual pins, others on several related pins, and others on pins in sets. The sole criterion is the pins have an interesting story to tell. I will archive the columns. Occasionally I will write a column on pinback buttons from a sport other than baseball. I hope you enjoy the blog.
First up: The Luxello Cigar Pins