The Burdick collection of baseball cards constitutes an integral part of The Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection of ephemera and tells the history of popular printmaking in the United States. In 1947, after having approached A. Hyatt Mayor—the Museum's curator of prints and photographs—the Syracuse electrician Jefferson R. Burdick (1900–1963) began to donate his entire collection of more than 30,000 baseball cards in large batches, along with another 303,000 trade cards, postcards, and posters, to the Museum. The baseball cards collected by Burdick represent the most comprehensive public collection outside of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
This exhibition features nearly one hundred cards produced between the 1880s and the 1950s. Collectively, they illustrate the history of baseball from the dead-ball era at the turn of the nineteenth century through the golden age and modern era of the sport. Produced using various types of media, from photography to lithography, the cards feature legends of the game as well as lesser-known players, owners, and teams that have contributed to the history of the game.
Learn more about the Jefferson R. Burdick Collection in this online feature.
Read a Timeline of Art History essay that explores the baseball cards in the Burdick Collection and the history of this beloved genre of ephemera.
Delong Gum Company. Lou Gehrig, New York Yankees, 1933. Commercial lithograph, sheet: 2 15/16 x 1 15/16 in. (7.5 x 5 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Jefferson R. Burdick Collection, Gift of Jefferson R. Burdick (Burdick 326, R333.6)