Wednesday, April 6, 2011

History In A Box Of Topps Heritage

I am a history buff; I have been my entire life. I think this is why vintage cards appeal to me; it is not necessarily just the athletes on the card as much as it is the history connected with the athlete or even the card itself.

There are certain periods in time that specifically appeal to me including the American Revolution and World War I. Last year I came across the 2009 Topps American Monuments USS Constitution relic that contained a piece of wood from this iconic ship, which is actually the oldest commissioned warship in the world, and ended up picking up one for a song and a dance.
USS Constitution Wood relic
Because I never really paid much attention to the Heritage releases I never knew what was included in the sets and while I know that many people do not like non-baseball related cards in a baseball release I could not have been happier. With the 2011 Topps Heritage release just recently hitting shelves I wanted to take a look at what other historical relics have made their way through the Heritage releases. I was floored when I came across the WWI and WWII related relics from the 2009 Heritage set.

Most of the cards I have come across are from WWII and while interesting I am drawn to the WWI cards. As best as I can tell there are 4 cards connected to WWI: An Engineer uniform, a blanket from the 105th Machine Gun Battery, a WWI soldier’s uniform and a Signal Flag (I have seen red and white versions). I grabbed the two that I was able to find most readily, the Engineer uniform and the blanket from the 105th Machine Gunners. I just got the cards in the mail today and I am in heaven.

Engineer Uniform
The Engineer uniform actually is tan and has a velvety feel; I am quite surprised because I had always thought that uniforms of the era were made of wool. This may be a specific uniform for the engineers though and that could be the difference. Because this is a generic piece I have no idea of who wore it or where it was worn.

105th Blanket
The blanket is wool, coarse but thick, exactly as I have always thought. The blanket is olive drab in color. I can just imagine the history connected to this specific blanket. The 105th Machine Gun Battery was deployed to France in 1918 and saw combat in both France and Belgium. The back even states that this blanket was used by a Private First Class in the French Campaign during WWI. The card is not cut off-center, my scanner cut off the edge.
WWI Signal Flag

I am still hoping to find the WWI Soldier’s uniform relic because I have only seen 1 on eBay so far and it is part of a 3 card lot selling for $45 plus shipping. There is one other card that is of interest to me (along with the Signal Flag), the 76th Infantry Division Medic Uniform. The card is marked as a WWII Medic Uniform (AH-WWII2) but the image on the front of the card is clearly soldiers from the First World War. They are wearing Brodie Helmets and appear to be wearing Trench Boots and canvas leggings plus the ambulance is clearly a WWI vehicle and the satchels that three of the soldiers are wearing over their shoulders are gas mask bags. The 76th Infantry was deployed to France during WWI too. This may be a generic image that was used in error by Topps designers but I still wouldn’t mind getting one of these at a reasonable price just in case.

WWI Soldier Uniform relic on the far right


  1. There are actually two American Heritage non-sport releases in early 2009 - which I didn't realize until about a month ago. I really like these sets too, though I don't have any of the relics. And then there's the Upper Deck History of America (or whatever it was called) that came out around the same time, issued in factory set form. And I assure you there is a fairly large group of non-sport card collectors who chase after these sets and the non-sport inclusions in sports sets. I do both, actually.

  2. Love Constitution card. I didn't even know it existed. I'll have to look for one.

  3. These are really cool... I'd definitely love to add a few (or all) of these to my PC. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Very cool, thanks for sharing!