Hopalong Cassidy Trading Cards

                                            “Night on the Range”

Sometimes we find unusual items in donations to the Archives.  This week, among some letters from the 1950s, we found a packet of “Hopalong Cassidy Wild West Trading Cards,” given away in boxes of Post cereal in 1951.

Hopalong Cassidy was a popular cowboy hero of the day who had appeared in books, films, radio, and—beginning in 1949—television.  The character starred in 66 films and was played by actor William Boyd (1895-1972), who acquired the rights to the movies.   The films proved extremely popular on television and made it possible for Boyd to create a true merchandising empire, which included “Hoppy books and Hoppy clubs,” “cowboy clothes, breakfast food, blankets, towels, bedcovers, lamps, watches, bicycles, candy, soap, and even wallpaper,” according to Life magazine (June 12, 1950).

1950s cereal ad (source:   http://www.flickr.com/photos/markgregory/5893799142/ )

                       “Hoppy Finds Gold” trading card (front and back).

Items such as these are classified by archivists as “ephemera” :  objects designed for short-term use and not meant to have a long life.  Postcards, movie tickets, and theater programs all fall into this category, and while they are unique treasures, their preservation often presents challenges.

There were 36 trading cards in the complete Hopalong set.  The Rollins Archives now has ten of them.

~ by D. Moore, Archival Specialist

Read Life magazine’s article, “Hopalong Hits the Jackpot.”

9 thoughts on “Hopalong Cassidy Trading Cards

  1. Fascinating! Tell us more about the letters you found them in? Who wrote them and why do you think the cards ended up in letters?

    1. The letter was found among the papers of Prof. Paul A. Vestal (1908-1978), who taught biology at Rollins from 1942 to 1974. It was written by Dr. Vestal’s mother to her nine-year-old grandson, Robie. The letter makes no mention of the cards, however.

      Prof. Vestal was the first person to hold the Archibald Granville Bush Chair of Science (established in 1969). He was active in a number of organizations, including the Nature Conservancy and the Botanical Society of America. Two of his books are in our Special Collections: Ethnobotany of the Ramah Navaho (1952) and Economic Botany of the Kiowa Indians (1939). When he received the College’s Hamilton Holt Medal in 1974, his citation highlighted his “continued dedication to teaching and research” and described him as “a creator and cultivator of natural beauty.”
      He can be seen in this photo from the Digital Archives, sitting with students in 1954-55.

      J. Robie Vestal went on to become a biologist himself. His work took him to Alaska and Antarctica, and included research on oil spills and how they affected the tundra. Sadly, Dr. Vestal passed in 1992 at the age of 49.

  2. I have 29 of these trading cards that are in excellent shape. not sure where they came from. might have been left by previous owners. several cards have duplicates. sure wish I could find the remaining seven.

  3. I have a set of these with several dups, that I would trade..I am having a real hard time finding cards that do not have very fine, almost micro creases on the backs. Ron

    1. To maintain the historical accuracy of our collections, we need to keep the original items as they were given to us, so we couldn’t participate in a trade.
      Thank you for writing, and best of luck with your collecting!
      ~ Darla

  4. Looks like a lot of the donations were nostalgic which brought back memories for me. Wonder if anyone donated a older wooden boat? These are hard to come by in good condition, but are a great woodworking project if you could find one.

    1. The only old boats mentioned in our records are two cutters and a whaleboat that were sent to Rollins by the U.S. Navy in 1921, after the College requested boats and other equipment for naval training in the fall of 1919. The plans for the naval training unit can be seen online at http://bit.ly/VB2RdQ .

      These boats were destroyed a few years later, though, after the Navy recommended that they be burned in December 1925.

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