It’s interesting where our hobby sometimes takes us. In the summer of 2005, I went to the National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago. At that National, a man approached a group of vintage basketball collectors. He opened his brief case and revealed an album. The Puerto rican cards pasted in that album were called Denia Deportivos cards. Baseball, hockey, and basketball were in that album – some portrait style and some “in-action”. It had my attention, but I was really a bystander in that conversation that day. I filed it away as one of those things to research at a later date. So let’s move forward a few months – I am sitting at my computer and I find a past Lelands Auction with none other than a nearly complete Denia Deportivos Album!, The album consists of 24 pages with 16 cards each - a total set consisting of 384 cards. A few investigative emails led me to one of the leading experts in pre-Castro Cuban cards and cards produced by Caribbean counties – Ryan Christoff. Ryan had recently acquired the cards I was looking for, and on September 9, 2005, a deal was completed! To be honest, I consider this one of the most exciting collecting deals I’ve ever experienced. To find such a rare group of cards quickly involved some incredible luck, some good timing, and a willing seller. A special thank you to Ryan.
Initially when examples of these cards were first discovered, many thought they were from 1950-51, however, when an example of the album was found, it was determine that these cards are from 1951-52. The basketball cards in this 1951-52 multi-set are overshadowed by the baseball cards of men who were playing in the Negro Leagues, while also playing in the Puerto Rican Winter Leagues. Some of the baseball cards sell in the hundreds of even thousands of dollars, comparable to some of the Toleteros baseball cards from that era. But don’t let that fool you. The basketball cards in this set are ultra-rare. You aren’t going to hop on Ebay and locate these. It takes an exhaustive search and some luck. The images display what is likely the best conditioned Denia basketball card set known to exist. These high grade cards are 1 5/8” x 2 ½” in dimension. The K-1 through K-12 cards have red lettering; K-13 through K-18 have black; T1 through T-4 have red lettering, while cards T-5 through T-16 have black lettering. The 35th card in the set was found in a different section of the album. The X-5 card has black lettering.
So what is Denia? This was a New York based company named Denia S.A. Compania Anonima that sold the powered milk advertised in the album. The 8 ½” x 11 ¼” album shows a full-sized ad on the back cover that lists the Puerto Rican baseball broadcast stations. Similar to the cards, the album is also exceedingly rare, which is one reason, I don’t own one. Images of the album will be labeled with NIC, not in collection.
Denia S.A. Compania Anonima