One of my father’s favorite sets is the National Chicle Company Diamond Stars set(s). It was issued by the National Chicle Company over a three-year period during the mid-1930s (specifically - from 1934 until 1936). The set has rich artwork, great imagery, and some really great ballplayers. That aside, many collectors find the set confusing, and with good reason. Some cards were produced just one year, and others two. A few of the cards were actually produced all three years. Even fewer were duplicated with new card numbers, and three “corrected” cards are in the set. Generally speaking, the card fronts stayed the same from year to year but the backs changed to notate the year. The short of the long is that there were some very unique printing patterns that are not found in any other set. More info after the jump!
Cards 1-24 were the only cards produced in 1934, and they were produced with green letters on the back. Even in a simple 24 card run, the errors in the set started early; although, it was not apparent for a few years. On the reverse, each card displayed the player name, card number, a brief biography, and an advertisement. In the advertisement, there is a snippet of text that proclaimed “One of 240 major league players with playing tips”. This turned out to be misleading, as the company stopped production at card #108. 1934 was a relatively sensible production because after that, all heck broke loose.
In 1935, Nat’l Chicle put out cards 1-84. Cards 1-72 utilized green letters on the reverse but there were two versions of the remaining 12 cards. In addition to the versions with green letters, all the cards also came with blue lettering on the back. Nat’l Chicle also put out two error cards in ‘35, both of which were corrected that year. They produced two Hank Greenberg Diamond Stars cards. Both cards had green lettering and were numbered 54. However, one card shows his name as ‘Greenburg’; the other card used the correct spelling. Ernie Lombardi’s card #36 had the same problem. His first name was misspelled before it was corrected (Earnie and then correctly as Ernie). However, it gets a bit more confusing with him as he had a third card produced in 1936, but more on that later.
In 1936, the Diamond Stars took checklist confusion to a whole new level. Nat’l Chicle produced a smattering of the first 31 cards; none of the cards between numbers 32-72 were produced; and then, almost inexplicably, they picked the set back up with 73 and produced cards all the way up to 108. Every card from 1936 has blue letters, and none exist with green. In addition, cards 85-108 were new to the set. If that was not confusing enough, they decided to “update” one player in the set. Card thirty-one is of Kiki Cuyler. In 1935, he was a traded from the Cubs to the Reds. Therefore, his 1935 card showed him as a member of the Cubs. Meanwhile, the 1936 version showed him as a member of the Reds. To top it all off, cards #97-108 featured players who already had cards in the set. For example, good old Earnie reappeared on card number 105. They are all very scarce and are commonly referred to as the “High-Numbers”.
It is a confusing set to collect. Even if you are extremely careful, there is a good chance that you will purchase the same card more than once thinking that you have a new one. Trust me on this as we have done it several times over! In order to help make sense, I have posted an excel spreadsheet that should help you. It is an adaptation of a checklist someone sent me, but I forget who that was. If you happen to read this, please let me know so I can give you credit. In any event, a colored grid is used to show you what year the card is available and in what lettering. The high numbers are marked and I have noted what year the stats line will be from for each “production year”. Let me know if you have any questions.
Download: 1934-36 Diamond Stars Master Checklist