1922 E21 Babe Ruth American Caramel

Any vintage Babe Ruth baseball card is a collector's item, but the 1922 Babe Ruth Holding Bird card is on a different level altogether.  Rare, and much sought after, the card is one of five that featured baseball's Home Run King in the celebrated E-121 Series of 120 produced by the American Caramel Company in 1922. The Holding Bird card was produced at a time when Ruth, one of the original five inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936, was at the height of his game-much like the bird that he was about to release into the sky in the card's picture.  He was also leading the New York Yankees towards their first World Championship.  His strong performance during that season lent much prestige to the 1922 E121 American Caramel Series of 120 which had remained one of the hardest "E" sets to complete from the 20th century.

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Part of History

The 1922 E121 Series of 120 marked the return of the American Caramel Company as a major producer of baseball cards.  Earlier, in 1909, the company had unveiled the E90-1 Series which became the first caramel cards -- so called because of the product of the company that issued them.  The 1922 E121 American Caramel Series of 120 also came along with the entry of strip cards during the first two years of the 20's, not long after the end of the First World War.  They were called strip cards because they came in long strips which the consumer, many of them children, would later cut into individual cards.  That explains why many pictures are not centered, or why the borders are not in straight lines.

The 1922 E121 American Caramel cards had 120 cards that featured black and white pictures of leading American baseball superstars of that period.  The front showed individual shots or multiple images with the player's name and team position at the bottom.  The subjects were invariably shown throwing, batting, pitching, running, holding base ball paraphernalia, or simply smiling at the camera, among others.  The back portion showed black text that read:  "This set consists of pictures of 120 of the leading base ball stars of the American and National Leagues Made only by American Caramel Company, Lancaster & York Pennsylvania".

If there is a set that characterizes the greatness of a particular era in baseball, the 1922 E121 American Caramel Series of 120 is the defining collection of its time.

Rare Breed

The collection showcased more than 30 Hall of Famers including some of the rarest variations from game's early years.  Aside from Babe Ruth, other legends who shone in the set were Hall of Famer Ty Cobb (pictured throwing and batting), Rogers Hornsby, "Gorgeous George" Sisler, Walter "The Big Train" Johnson, Tris Speaker, Eddie "Cocky" Collins, and Grover Cleveland "Old Pete" Alexander.

Other notable stars in the collection were  "Bullet Joe" Bush (hands on hips)
Tom "Shotgun" Rogers (portrait), Miller "Mighty Mite" Huggins (portrait), Charles Timothy O'Leary (portrait), Lou De Vormer (portrait), James Robert Shawkey (throwing), Robert William Meusel  (portrait), Elmer Miller (throwing), Wally Henry "Wally" Schang (squatting), Carl "Sub" Mays (throwing, small projection), M.J. McNally  (fielding grounder), Waite "The Schoolboy Wonder" Hoyt (throwing), Wilson Fewster (glove hand out), Lewis Everett "Deacon" Scott (arms folded), Aaron Lee Ward (reaching high), and Harry Clayton Harper (throwing, arms extended).