Sunday, September 20, 2015

1994 Smokey Bear 1993 Jeff King Iditarod Champion Card

Here at the Oddball Card Collector blog, our favorite type of oddball set is the "safety" genre. This type of set includes police cards, fire safety cards, and Smokey the Bear cards (we're not sure if cards issued by hospitals and insurance companies fit the safety card bill, but we collect the hell out of those, too). 

Smokey the Bear sets are always pretty cool. Often larger than the standard card size of 3 1/2" by 2 1/2", these issues deliver unique, classy designs on the card fronts, while the backs usually have a Smokey cartoon drawing of some kind. The better-known Smokey card releases tend to feature sports personalities from the various major and minor leagues that play in North America. Countless other Smokey cards have been issued over the years featuring non-sports personalities.

I stumbled upon this card a couple of years ago on eBay and quickly added it to the collection. While technically a sports-themed card, this is apparently more obscure than your typical card featuring Smokey the Bear and Tony Gwynn. Printed in 1994, this card commemorates 1993 Iditarod Champion and race record holder Jeff King. Quite the legend in the mushing world, King has won the Iditarod four times (1993, 1996, 1998, 2006), as well as the Yukon Quest in 1989. 

Roughly the size of a postcard at 5 3/4" by 3 3/4", the front design features a large, color photo of King posing with Smokey and five cute dogs. A gold-colored border surrounds the card, with the special Smokey the Bear 50th Anniversary logo found at the bottom. The back features a short bio for King, as well as a Smokey cartoon drawn in the classic fire-safety style.

The card is not numbered, and as far as we can tell is not part of a larger set. The sponsors listed on the back are the USDA Forest Service, National Association of State Foresters, McKinley Volunteer Fire Department and Iditarod Trail Committee. The McKinley F.D. clue helps to narrow down the area where the card was originally distributed.

It's difficult to guess a value on this card, thanks to it's scarce and obscure nature. I could see the right Smokey or Iditarod collector paying ten to twenty dollars for a nice example.

Click here to find Smokey Bear Sets on eBay

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