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Title: Essex Meats St. Louis Hawks
Size: 2-1/2″ x 3-1/2″
Number in Set: 13
The 13-card, standard-sized 1961 Essex Meats St. Louis Hawks set has a catalog designation of F175. The fronts feature a black and white player photo in a posed position with their name boxed in bold-faced, capital letters beneath the image. The white-stocked card backs start with the player’s name along the top, some basic physical data, and a pretty detailed biography. While the cards are unnumbered and have no details about their producer, I’ve read that Bonnie Brands distributed them.
In December 2009, Memory Lane auctioned off a “1961 Hawks Essex Meats Sealed Set of 14 cards with Bob Pettit on Top.” It sold for $981. I have no idea about the authenticity, and more on the 14th card in a moment, but here is how the lot was described,
An Extremely RARE Complete Set of Hawks Basketball cards issued in 1961. This Essex Meats Set of 14 cards comes to us in an originally sealed poly cello bag. It contains 14 different cards and is highlighted by the Bob Pettit card peering through the top. The cards are B&W and have information about each player on the back. Recent sales on the Pettit card alone are over $1,000, so what’s this sealed set worth? The other players in the set include Cliff Hagen and Clyde Lovellette, both Hall of Famers as well as Pettit. Pushing 50 years old, this ones for you.Memory Lane Inc
The 13-card set isn’t too rare; PSA has graded 721 cards across the set (mostly in the 6/7/8 range). SGC has graded between 70 and 103 cards; their population report shows 70 1961 Essex Meats cards and 33 1961-62 Essex Meats cards.
Robert Edward Auctions sold a crisp complete set with a PSA 9 Pettit for $2040 in the Fall of 2018. But mid-grade sets usually go for a few hundred dollars. For example, this set was sold by Heritage Auctions for $420 in July 2021, with cards described as EX to NM.
Now, back to the Sihugo Green 14th card. A single PSA 7 (Mk) is in the population report, and Beckett indicated it was short-printed. At first, I thought Beckett and PSA made a mistake and accidentally mislabeled a 1959 St. Louis Hawks Busch Bavarian Green as an Essex Meats card, but then I ran across the following example described as being sold on eBay for $100.99 years ago.
There are disproportionally few Green cards for it to be a short print to me, with over 800 graded cards and countless raw examples of the other players. The Sihugo Green’s may be forgeries, but it’s also possible Bonnie Brands pulled the card from production since Green was traded by the St. Louis Hawks with Joe Graboski and Woody Sauldsberry to the Chicago Packers for Barney Cable and Archie Dees on November 21, 1961; maybe they are production proofs.
Please get in touch with me if you have any other details about the 1961 Essex Meats Sihugo Green card.
The set’s key card belongs to Bob Pettit.
Here is the 13-card checklist.