Monday, February 15, 2016

Gypsy Gold

One of the many benefits of creating a Twitter account to go along with this blog is the extra opportunity for interaction with those who stumble across my humble little site.  One such instance occurred damn near immediately after I registered my handle (@RosterJenga).  Seriously, pretty much the same day.

Gypsy Oak (@GypsyOak on Twitter) is an artist who produces some of the best cards around and his T330 Art Cards are no exception.  When Gypsy Oak messaged me about sending a few of those bad boys my way, it felt like I was getting a secret stash of that gypsy gold of lore.  Even better than gold, the subjects he sent my way were guys I needed for my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection:

George Moriarty made his name as a Detroit Tigers player, manager and, later, an AL umpire; however, he first emerged in the Major Leagues in a Chicago uniform in 1903, at the tender young age of 17.

The Chicago-born third baseman only ended up playing in 5 games for the Cubs from '03-'04.  As such, finding cards of guys who had cups of coffee 110 years ago are usually quite tough guys to track down for my collection.  Thanks to Gypsy Oak, I can now cross Moriarty off of my list.

Frank Isbell is shown here in a Chicago uniform; however, it's for that OTHER team on the Southside of the city.  Like Moriarty, Isbell spent most of his relatively lengthy career on the roster of another team (White Sox), but, he initially broke into the Bigs with the Cubs.

Of course, this was so long ago that when Isbell first showed up in 1898, the Cubs were actually known as the Orphans (a moniker earned by the recent retiring of longtime player/manager "Pop" Anson).  Used as both a pitcher and an outfielder by the Orphans, Frank found his way into 45 contests.

After a year away from baseball, "The Bald Eagle" (nicknamed so due to his receding hairline), got a shot on the other side of town and managed to stick around until 1909.  As part of the 1906 "Hitless Wonders," he got to stick it to his former organization in the only Windy City Crosstown World Series.

Moriarty (left) and Isbell (right) in action.

The cards themselves are patterned after a set of "art stamps" produced by Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company in 1914, to promote their Piedmont brand of cigarettes.  The original cards measured 1-1/5" x 2-5/8" and, even though I don't have a ruler on hand, I'm willing to wager that Gypsy Oak's homages are about the same dimensions.

For comparison's sake, let's take a look at one of the original Piedmonts:

Of course, I don't exactly have one of these lying around, so thank you to Old Cardboard for the scan.

As you can see, Gypsy Oak really hit the nail on the head.  My personal favorite detail is how he went the extra mile in simulating the perforations found on stamps, a subtle touch that really brings the whole design together.  I'm almost tempted to use one of these masterpieces on my next PWE...

Again, a huge thank you to Gypsy Oak for reading my blog, the kind words, following me on Twitter, creating wonderful baseball-themed art and for graciously bestowing some of that art on little ol' me out of the goodness of your heart.  Seriously, this is the kind of gesture that keeps my faith in humanity alive.

If you'd like one of these creations for your own, just search "T330 Art Cards" on Ebay and you'll find a fair assortment to choose from.  I highly recommend adding at least one of these creations to your binders; it would put a nice "stamp" on your collection.

Ba dum tiss.


  1. That is cool. It is amazing how high quality some of these customs are.

  2. Nice! That's one benefit of Twitter. Darned if I can come up with a second one right now. (I say this even though I admittedly have a Twitter account.)