Some collectors are drawn to the multitude of colored parallels found in today's sets, while others fly to the bright, shiny chrome refractors like moths to a flame (sorry, Fuji- I couldn't help but use that, as well). There's also the autographed and relic high-end rollers, book-worms (book cards, that is), and countless serial-numbered collectors (1/1!!!). Me? If I were to focus on inserts, it would probably be die-cuts. The precision found in certain die-cut inserts is simply amazing and there seems to be countless ways the technology can be incorporated into the set designs. And given my interest in the innovative designs, I've decided to begin a new series featuring 'Die-Namic Die-Cuts' (I would have used Dynamic- but Topps has done an insert called Dynamic Die-Cuts)...
While many collectors think of die-cut cards as being something relatively new, they're not. The earliest examples of die-cut baseball cards I can find are the "Scrapps Tobacco" dies and the Rafael Tuck & Sons Artistic Series- both of which date back to 1888.
1888 Scrapps Tobacco Walter Latham
Originally thought to have been produced by the "Scrapp Tobacco Company", the origin of the eighteen cards that comprise this set is unknown. Research has shown that there never was such a company, leading hobby enthusiasts to conclude that they were named because of their resemblance to scraps of paper once they had been 'punched-out' of their original books. The eighteen players depicted include nine players from the National League's Detroit Wolverines and nine from the the American Association's St. Louis Browns. And while the sizes vary, the busts are typically about 2" wide and 3" high.
1888 Raphael Tuck & Sons Artistic Series Baseball (also known in the hobby as R.T.S)
Ten figures make up this die-cut set, which was lithographed in Germany and published in England by Raphael Tuck & Sons, but none are actual players. Rather, each figure represents one of ten major league teams from the era: Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, New York, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh of the National League; and Baltimore, Brooklyn, and St. Louis of the American Association. Like the Scrapps Tobacco die-cuts, the RTS figures vary in size, but are typically around 1-1/2" wide and 2-3/4" in height. There's an interesting history of the postcard company which produced these figures that can be read here.