The basketball card (#8) produced by the C.A. Briggs Company within its 1933 multi-sport set is considered the rarest card in all of vintage basketball collecting. On December 8, 2000, the Sports Collectors Digest published an incredible story – the story of a man who was given 25 cards by his uncle in 1993. It was discovered that little if any information was available about this set. The checklist was incomplete, missing six cards for completion. Today, the checklist is still missing three cards. In the last 20 years, I have only seen two images of the Briggs basketball card. When something is so scarce, it makes it difficult to pinpoint its age. Some say it is from 1932, while others say 1933. On March 23, 1933. the Chicago Daily tribune carried a story discussing that Babe Ruth had signed a contract for $52,000. Why is this important? There is a Babe Ruth baseball card (#24) in the 31-card C.A. Briggs set that discusses this exact story. This dates the set to 1933, and not 1932 as several have referenced online.
The C.A. Briggs Co. of Cambridge, Massachusetts was the manufacturer of Hospital Brand (H - B) cough drops, lozenges and other types of candy and chocolate. In 1933, they produced a 31- card set of cards. These cards were 2-5/16" x 2-13/16" in dimension. Card fronts featured an illustration of different subjects, mostly from popular sports. Cards had a red background, yellow, black, and red artwork, and white borders. The most important fact for vintage basketball collectors is that card #8 was a basketball card. The back of each card discussed each sport and told how you could redeem (return) a complete set of cards for “your choice of either a Baseball, Bat, or Mit, or 1 lb. of Assorted Chocolates” and then made a promise that the cards would be returned. Is this why we see so few of these? Did they break their promise? We will never know! What is interesting is that other 1930s sets also used a similar format on the back of the card. The R114 American Heroes set, which has American Presidents, also was a 31-card set with a promise of chocolate for a redeemed set. The 1933 Caramel Famous Athletes set is another set, also from the Boston area, that has a similar redemption format. As mentioned earlier, these cards were not listed in the original American Card Catalog (ACC) by Jefferson Burdick and remained an unknown set for nearly 70 years after issuance. However, Chris Watson, author of the Non-Sports Bible (NSB), did assigned an ACC designation for this set – R348. This seems to have stuck, as this designation was used in description of a Legendary Auction in 2014. On January 20, 2016, VintageBasketball.com acquired the C.A. Briggs basketball card – one of the most exciting acquisitions of my collecting career.
C.A. Briggs Co.