Early in my collecting days, more experienced collectors would occasionally mention that they had heard there were Cuban basketball cards from the 1920s. At that point, it is my belief that no one had ever seen an example personal. Then one day, as with most items in our hobby, a few of these cards appeared on Ebay. There are a lot of foreign issues that appear rare simply because we don’t see them as often in the states. However, there is no doubt that these cards are in the top 10 (probably top 5) when it comes to rarity in our hobby. For example, there are more graded examples of 1950 Scott’s Potato Chip cards, 1968 Topps Test cards, and the 1950 Bread for Health labels than there are total of examples of these cards we have found. On April 23, 2006 I acquired my first 11 cards. Through other collector finds, my total has grown to 41! So to summarize, 10 years of searching and 41 cards!
Of the three Cuban Aguilitas sets from the 1920s, the 1928 Cuban Cigarros Aguilitas Deportiva card set is the rarest of the sets. This 900 card multi-sport set contains baseball, American- style football, track, and basketball for sure. It might contain boxing and soccer as well although I haven’t seen any examples to prove that yet. Experts that collect the baseball cards, which are more predominant in the set, have yet to determine the complete checklist.
The distinctive feature of this Aguilitas set, which helps you identify this particular set, is that the back of each card contains a large write-up. Very loosely translated it says, “This interesting series integrates 900 photographs of athletes and teams. University Clubs, Havana Yacht Club, Vedado T. Club, Loma T. Athletic Club, Army, Marine Police, Fortuna, Iberia, Olympia, Institute of Havana, Belen, La Salle, Hermanoa, Maristas, Juventud Asturian, Centro Gallego, San Carlos, Santos Suarez, Varadero, railway and twenty-five clubs and teams over Havana, Camaguey, Santa Clara, Sagua, Santiago de Cuba, and other cities in Cuba. The album may be obtained for this postcard from our Simon Bolivar Warehouse Deposit. 1. Havana and in our agencies of the interior.”
So if you see a lot of words on the back, you have the right Aguilitas set! What you are looking at on this site is the largest grouping of these cards I know of. I am always looking for more of these. Feel free to copy images as needed for your reference.