YELLOW KID COMPLETE COLLECTION OF BUTTONS #1-160.
Richard Outcault’s historic newspaper comic strip character and his tobacco company sponsor set a high bar for collectors, even when these buttons came out in 1896. This particular collection was started over 4 decades ago in the late 60s by one of Hake’s earliest auction bidders. As I know from personal experience, building such a collection requires diligence and determination over many years. The complete collection I assembled is now beautifully displayed in Geppi’s Entertainment Museum in Baltimore. I am personally aware of 2 other complete collections to make a grand total of 4. High Admiral Cigarettes began giving these buttons away with their product in 1896. For unknown reasons, the numbered series goes from #1 through #94 and then resumes using flags as a theme from #101 through #160. Thus, there are 154 buttons in a complete set. All are 1.25”. Some have an open back with paper promoting the company’s cigarettes while some have a tin covered back with the promotional text stamped in referring to High Admiral, NY Journal and Yellow Kid Cigarette or, on numbers #101 and up, “Yellow Kid Collection.” While overall this is a high grade collection, there are a small number of defects which we will detail in addition to summarizing the set’s attributes. Also, we suggest collectors who have already started a collection, might consider the following: buy this collection, merge it and upgrade what you already have and consign to Hake’s your duplicates. We have grouped button numbers by shared defects. Seven buttons, ironically from the most common buttons in the set (#1-40) are without backpaper. These are #10, 18, 21, 23, 27, 32, 36. This is hardly a problem. If it is a concern, damaged buttons can be had cheaply and their backpapers will serve as a replacement source. Other than backpapers, only 30 buttons of 154 have any visually detracting age or structural damage. In other words, 124 of 154 buttons are Exc. to Near Mint and most of these 124 display essentially Mint. We have gone over the collection button-by-button and are very impressed by the overall quality. The breakdown of 30 with an issue is as follows: #7 and #23 have a reverse cello split by the collet but the front displays Mint; #40 has 1/16” cello dot off extreme edge, still displaying Mint; #127 has a shallow and smooth front dent; #41 has near invisible cello craze and a few age dots, same for #74 which is also missing its pin; #110 has 2 small cello cracks and #136 has major cracks; #118 has no stain but a dark bkg. and tiny 1/16” cut showing only in reflected light. The following numbers have only several very tiny and very light scattered age dots: 30, 42, 48, 50, 61, 68, 71, 78, 87, 109, 111, 152. The following have faint marks over much of their backgrounds but still with total full color and high gloss: 31, 45, 60, 102, 130, 141. Among the rarest numbers in the set are - #90-94. These overall are in great condition. The very minor flaws are 1/16” age dot on #93 and a 1/32” gray dot on #94. Personally, I searched for about a decade to find a #93 equal to this one. Very many of the 124 buttons we call Exc. to N. Mint are truly outstanding examples. The celluloids are remarkably free of age and wear and the covered metal backs in many cases have 50% to 95% of their original glossy silver luster. We are proud to present what we believe is the first complete Yellow Kid button set ever to be auctioned. It displays as a unit in beautiful condition as is or it provides an incredible base to take the entire set to a marvelous level of condition by replacing the very few which are less than Exc. Of note to Yellow Kid collectors, also see rare farm equipment button #463 for a plow by the Bement firm named “Yellow Kid.”