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 over 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 date from 1887 to 1962 and represent the most comprehensive collection outside of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. The cards on view illustrate the history of baseball from the dead-ball era at the turn of the 19th century through the golden age and modern era of the sport.
The baseball cards document the sport through various types of media—from lithography to photography—and imagery illustrating legends as well as the lesser-known players, owners, and teams that have contributed to the history of the game.
Issued by Bowman Gum Company. Mickey Mantle, Center Fielder, New York Yankees, from Picture Cards, Series 6 (R406-6), issued by Bowman Gum, 1952. Commercial color lithograph; sheet: 3 1/8 x 2 1/6 in. (7.9 x 5.3 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Jefferson R. Burdick Collection, Gift of Jefferson R. Burdick (Burdick 327, R406-6.93)