Welcome back to our third class in Sports Card Collecting and Speculation 101! Sensing that there are some itches out there to pick up some sports cards RIGHT NOW, we are going to focus on our first set! By the end of this class, you will have the tools you need to begin to purchase the epic 1909-1911 T-206 Baseball Cards!
It Is Sometimes Referred To As “The Monster” For A Reason!
There are two important things you should know RIGHT AWAY! First, this set is the most frequently counterfeited and tampered set of all time! Second, this set is MASSIVE. While there are 524 white-bordered individual players in the set, according to this t-206 website, there are THIRTY-EIGHT different back variations (16 Tabacco brands + Brand Color Variations). So, multiply 524 by 38 and that’s how many individual cards there are in the series, whew! It’s also quite possibly the most important baseball card set for “dead ball” era Hall of Famers. The list of Hall of Famers in this set is extensive as well as impressive!
The important thing about counterfeit copies is to know how to spot the counterfeits. Buying these cards on eBay should be a hard no because you can’t go through your counterfeit checklist and you can’t physically see the card to know if it has been trimmed. For some great detail on how to spot a counterfeit, check out this great “Slaying the Beast” post. In summary, the real T206 cards should have an irregular dot pattern (this is where your handy-dandy jewelers’ loupe comes in!) The ink should be dark brown in color tone, there should be no “glossiness” to the front or back of the card.
Now, determining if the card has been trimmed is more difficult. Since the printing at the time was much more primitive than they are today, the normal dimensions of the card, 3.7 X 6.7cm, vary. Your jeweler’s loop will help you see if it has been trimmed. Try to detect some cleaner colors, maybe the white border color is not as tanned over time as the rest of the card, for example.
High-Grade Samples of the T-206 Are HARD To Find!
Between age, packaging, and printing, the cards in this set are REALLY hard to find in high grade. Even COMMON cards in the series will garner high prices in high-grade. Determining the background history of the card, therefore, is another way to determine if the card is counterfeit. Estate auctions are a great place to find authentic, high-grade copies of these cards. If you are at a card show and you see these cards, ask about the purchase history of the cards.
Some More T-206 Tid-Bits
Sports cards have sub-categories. They can be classified by Hall of Famers, Stars, Commons, Rookies, etc. The T-206 set has a whopping THIRTY-EIGHT Hall of Famers in the set. Walter Johnson, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, and Honus Wagner are just a few of the notable players in this set. Some of the backs are so rare that there are only a handful in existence and of course the most expensive and famous card in the history of sports card collecting is the T-206 Honus Wagner card.
The cards are inserts in packs of Tobacco products between 1909-1911. The backs of the cards are the names of the tobacco companies that participated in the giveaway promotion. Each back has different print runs. The most common backs are the Piedmont and Sweet Caporal Backs. There are about 50,000 or more copies of these backs of players.
The rarest backs are Broad Leaf, Carolina Brights, Drum, Hindu, Lenox, and Uzit. As little as 1-500 copies of some of these rare backs potentially exist. These backs are so rare that some of the players on the checklist STILL have not been discovered! For example, there are only 21 copies of each player seen so far of the Broad Leaf 360, and just 15 copies of each player with a Lennox Brownback are documented to exist. In comparison, there are nearly 50,000 copies seen of the Piedmont backs. More information on back rarities can be found on the website.
Be sure to come to our next class. We will be sampling some Cracker Jacks!