An Unnecessary Premium

I’ve been selling my pre-war cards. Most of them anyway (there’s a few that I want around). In recent years my collecting has shifted, in ways that bring me great pleasure and, while it’s slightly odd selling off cards that are one of a kind in my collection (selling doubles is so much easier on the emotions), I’ve gotten enormous pleasure from the turnover.

I’m not sure why I have one 1934 Butterfinger Premium, (R310s for you scoring at home) let alone two. The Lloyd Waner made sense at the time, and in retrospect. I was looking for cards of Hall of Famers from their playing days. (Now that I have another “Little Poison,” a 1936 Goudey Wide Pen Type 1, I can let the R310 go).

1934 Butterfinger Waner front253

Bob O’Farrell? I have no idea.

1934 Butterfinger O'Farrell front251

These premiums really aren’t even cards. Large, 7 ¾” X 9 ¾”, paper thin (though there are cardboard backed displays with red ad copy letting a bunch of Dead End Kids and Little Rascals of the decade know they could get their very own Lew Fonseca with the purchase of a nickel candy bar),


and fragile, they’re more like posters (which often make it into the Standard Catalog anyway). The checklist is a nice representation of the player pool, from Ruth, Gehrig and Foxx (spelled both “Fox” and “Foxx”) to Al Spohrer and Ralph Boyle.

The cardboard displays are rarer, selling, according to one Standard Catalog, at four times the paper. There’s even a Canadian version, smaller in size, at 6 ½” X 8 ½”, and checklist, less than 60. (These are given a different designation, V94).

They’re nice items, perfect for team and type collectors, and not very expensive, depending, of course, on condition. A lot of them have suffered paper loss from various tuckings and gluings into albums. You can even get a low grade Al Spohrer for $10!

But the biggest mystery to me is why anyone needs a premium to buy a Butterfinger. They’re delicious and worth each of those five pennies.

Author: Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is the former Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.

2 thoughts on “An Unnecessary Premium”

  1. I’d like to take the last part first: Why a premium? Today I was at the grocery store and wanting a quick snack that I hadn’t had in a while. You can see where this is going … 86 years later the premium paid off for Butterfinger. So now the power of this site extends to not only card purchases but food purchases.

    As to how random things get into my collection – buying lots and then never selling off the extra stuff, even if I had the intention to. Stack of Mo Vaughn cards? It was cheaper, shipping and all, to buy a lot of 200 or so Mo Vaughn cards than it was to buy the single card that I could see was in the lot that I had been looking for. Collection of pogs and non-card items? Came with two 1940 Playball cards plus a bunch of older and newer cards (that was a really interesting lot of stuff). 3000 count box of 8 specific basketball players (Steve Nash, Ray Allen, Marbury, Marcus Camby, Kerry Kittles, Antoine Walker, Jermaine O’Neal and one other player I can’t remember right now)? Cleared out a dealer’s table of dime boxes (maybe they were quarter boxes). Basically buying lots where I know I’m getting things I want for value with the dream of selling off the remainder (one day … some day) to make back the money or even perhaps turn a small profit. Though I don’t have a lot of stories about 1930s items ending up in my collection that way as those are generally intentional purchases. Not sure how it works for others.


    1. Butterfinger marketing is strong!

      I get where you’re coming from as to how things end up in our collections. I’m trying my best to weed that stuff out these days.


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