Allen & Ginter
The current manifestation of the Topps Allen and Ginter brand derives itself from the original trading cards produced by the so name tobacco company in 1888-89. Originally used in the functionary capacity of providing stiffness to a cigarette pack, the original cards also served as advertisement for the company. The card backs contained promotional copy for various Allen and Ginter tobacco brands. However, it was the subject matter of the card’s color fronts that attracted the genres original collectors. Designated as N28 and N29 the American Card Catalog, the sets consisted of 50 total cards in each series with 10 baseball players in the first series and just 6 in the second. The additional cards depicted other popular subjects of the day including wrestlers, swimmers, and boxers to name a few. Measuring just 1-1/2” x 2-3/4” these cards are some of the most popular pre-ward cards of the dead ball era ever produced.
The Brand’s Triumphant Revival
Currently enjoying an 8-year run, the brand was re-introduced, to the collecting public, starting in 2006, by the Topps Company. The product concept was built around the quirky and eclectic nature of the original offering and was a welcome addition to the trading card landscape. The set was produced in modern card dimensions of 2-1/2” x 3-1/2” but also included “mini” parallels true to the original sized cards. These mini cards were an instant hit with collectors, which were actually contained within another card and were aptly referred to as “Rip Cards” because in essence, that was what was required to find the prize within. Some of these cards were also autographed making the decision to rip the original card all that more appealing.
Modern Development of the Brand
The miniature cards of 2006 were so popular that the entire 350-card base set was printed as a parallel set the following year. Fifty cards in the base set were short printed making the mini cards of those fifty, extremely difficult to find. The insertion rate of the mini cards in general, was just one per pack providing completist minded collectors a true challenge. Topps understood the importance of providing an eclectic checklist to carry on the tradition of the original brand. While still considered primarily a baseball product, the first couple of years of the product’s inception saw the inclusion of several non-baseball players including: Jennie Finch, Brandi Chastain, Hulk Hogan, Danica Patrick, Leon Spinks, Randy Couture, Robert E. Lee, Thomas Edison, Billy the Kid, Andrew Carnegie, Mia Hamm, Dennis Rodman, and Misty May to name just a handful of personalities from all walks of life.
Topps Ups the Ante
To add a twist to the already successful product, in 2008, the set was produced with a built in code breaking challenging. Collectors had to look for various clues contained within the cards themselves. The clues ended up spelling out a phrase, and the first person to contact Topps with that phrase would have their very own Allen and Ginter card produced in the 2009 set. The winner of the first Ginter Code Challenge was Jason Wong of Annapolis, Maryland. This newly created tradition continues on to this day and has become an eagerly anticipated part of the product’s release.
Riding the Wave of Popularity
The Allen and Ginter brand continues to be one of the hobby’s most anxiously awaited trading card sets. The non-baseball autograph checklist has become one of the most, if not the most, demanded checklist amongst collectors. Always curious to see who has been included, the annual ritual has become a rite of passage of sorts for certain celebrities, athletes and entertainers, some of whom have never had a trading card produced of their likeness prior to being included in Allen and Ginter. With such notable personalities as Erin Andrews, Bobby Knight, Kate Upton, Michael Buffer, Richard Petty, Curly Neal, Annie Duke, and Ewa Mataya being included in last year’s version only time will tell what the future holds for the Allen and Ginter brand and its never ending cavalcade of pop icons.
Allen and Ginter Card Sets
Browse our database of Allen and Ginter trading card sets, which feature product reviews, set checklists, expert analysis, price comparisons, and more.