John McGraw Finger in Air, Mint 9
John McGraw Finger in Air, Mint 9

The T206 set is a true classic! It is the most comprehensive set of the twentieth-century tobacco card era, with 524 different cards. Not until the 1952 Topps issue did any set feature as many major-league cards as the T206.

The T206 is perhaps the most studied and chronicled sports card set ever issued, yet new observations and discoveries are constantly being made. This set contains the most famous and expensive sports card ever issued, the T206 Honus Wagner. It also includes dozens of Hail-of--Famer cards, which feature many immortals of the game.

These cards were absolutely beautiful, extremely high-quality full-color lithographs. The artwork and color combinations on some of the cards are truly stunning. The standard measurements for this set are 1 7/16" x 2 5/8", although many issues vary in size. Several come shorter than 1 7/16" right to left, and longer than 2 5/8" top to bottom.

The T206 set is one of the three most important issues of all-time (along with the 1933 Goudey and 1952 Topps sets). Although in lower grades many of these cards are fairly common, in high-grade (NM or better) all T206s are rare and several are either extremely rare or virtually unknown. There are literally thousands of T206 collectors, so demand for these cards is extremely strong and broad based.

This set has a long history of steady price appreciation, and I think that it still holds fantastic future potential. It would definitely be in your best financial interest to study the T206 set, develop an accumulation strategy, and then go about selectively purchasing some really great cards!

T206 Rarities in PSA Near Mint 8
Player
Team
No. Graded PSA 8 or Better
Explanation
Current SMR Value*
1
Honus Wagner
Pittsburgh
1
few examples exist
$850,000
2
Ed Plank
NA
1
few examples exist
$150,000
3
Sherry "Magie" Magee
NA
1
error card
$52,000
4
Bill O'Hara
St. Louis
2 in PSA 7
few examples exist
$15,000
5
Joe Doyle
N.Y. Nat'l
1 graded
caption variation
**$30,000
6
Ray Demmitt
St. Louis
1 graded
Team chg.
$20,000
7
Kid Elberfeld (portrait)
Washington
6 graded in PSA 7Q
Team chg.
$3,000
8
Carl Lundgren
Chicago
1 graded
Team chg.
$950
9
George Brown
Washington
unknwn
Team chg.
$1350
10
Frank Smith
Chicago, Boston
none graded in this variety
Team chg.
$725
11
Red Kleinow
Boston
4 graded in PSA 8
Team chg.
$800
12
Bill Dahlen
Brooklyn
3 graded in PSA 8
Team chg.
$950

*source: February 2000 Sportscard Market Report (SMR)

** no SMR listing



By The Numbers

The T206 set was produced by the American Tobacco Trust as a sales premium for their tobacco products. The set was produced over a three-year period of time, 1909-1911. It was issued in three different series: the "150 Series," the "350 Series" and the "460 Series." Because of several variations, a total of 524 different cards were issued.

Eight cards were differentiated by a team change (George Brown, Bill Dahlen, Ray Demmitt, Kid Elberfeld, Red Kleinow, Carl Lundgren, Bill O'Hara and Frank Smith). One player, Sherry Magee, was issued with both a misspelled name (Magie) and a correctly spelled name. The Joe Doyle card came in two varieties; one with "N.Y. Nat'l" listed at the bottom and one with "N.Y." listed at the bottom. Close to 150 cards were multiple design formats or color schemes for the same player.

Many cards featured minor-league players, including several very scarce cards featuring Southern Leaguers. Hal Chase is the player with the most number of different cards (five), followed by Ty Cobb, John McGraw, and Joe Tinker (each with four). Several other players have three cards issued of them.

Interestingly, some prominent Hall-of-Famers only had one card: Home Run Baker, Eddie Collins, Hugh Duffy, Joe McGinnity, Tris Speaker, Ed Walsh and Zack Wheat. Most of these players were either just beginning their careers or had already ended them when the T206 set was produced.

Most Important T206 Hall-of-Famers
Player
No. Graded PSA 8 or Better
Explanation
Current SMR Value*
1
Home Run Baker
6
only card issued
$1300
2a
Chief Bender
10
portrait
$1050
2b
Chief Bender
1
pitching w/trees
$1200
2c
Chief Bender
5
pitching no trees
$1075
3a
Roger Bresnahan
10
portrait
$1100
3b
Roger Bresnahan
4
with bat
$1100
4a
Mordecai Brown
8
Chicago
$1100
4b
Mordecai Brown
5
Cubs
$1550
4c
Mordecai Brown
3
portrait
$1350
5a
Frank Chance
11
batting
$1350
5b
Frank Chance
10
portrait - red
$1400
5c
Frank Chance
12
portrait - yellow
$1700
6
Jack Chesbro
7
only card issued
$1100
7a
Ty Cobb
15
portrait - red
$11,000
7b
Ty Cobb
6
portrait - green
$22,500
7c
Ty Cobb
11
bat off shoulder
$12,500
7d
Ty Cobb
11
bat on shoulder
$12,500
8a
Willie Keeler
3
portrait
$1500
8b
Willie Keeler
11
with bat
$1500
9
Eddie Collins
4
only card issued
$1050
10a
Sam Crawford
3
throwing
$1100
10b
Sam Crawford
4
with bat
$1050
11a
Johnny Evers
6
portrait
$1300
11b
Johnny Evers
6
with bat, Chicago
$1050
11c
Johnny Evers
5
with bat, Cubs
$1100
12
Miller Huggins
13
hands at mouth or portrait
$1050
13
Hughie Jennings
23
1 hand, both hands, or portrait
$1150
14a
Walter Johnson
8
portrait
$4200
14b
Walter Johnson
13
hands at chest
$3500
15a
Addie Joss
13
hands at chest
$1100
15b
Addie Joss
19
portrait
$1200
16a
Nap Lajoie
10
portrait
$2500
16b
Nap Lajoie
20
throwing
$2000
16c
Nap Lajoie
6
with bat
$2000
17a
Rube Marquard
12
hands at thighs

$1250

17b
Rube Marquard
3
pitching
$1300
17c
Rube Marquard
5
portrait
$1250
18a
Christy Mathewson
9
dark cap
$3200
18b
Christy Mathewson
8
white cap
$3700
18c
Christy Mathewson
7
portrait
$3600
19a
John McGraw
11
finger in air
$1200
19b
John McGraw
3
glove at hip
$1300
19c
John McGraw
6
portrait - no cap
$1400
19d
John McGraw
0
portrait - cap
$1400
20
Tris Speaker
11
only card issued
$2250
21a
Joe Tinker
7
bat off shoulder
$1100
21b
Joe Tinker
6
bat on shoulder
$1100
21c
Joe Tinker
1
hands on knee
$1300
21d
Joe Tinker
7
portrait
$1200
22a
Rube Waddell
8
portrait
$1600
22b
Rube Waddell
7
throwing
$1400
23
Ed Walsh
7
only card issued
$1100
24
Zack Wheat
9
only card issued
$1050
25a
Cy Young
5
glove
$3200
25b
Cy Young
7
bare hand shows
$3100
25
Cy Young
10
portrait
$3200
Ty Cobb Bat Off Shoulder NM-MT 8 (l),  and Rube Marquard Hands at Thighs Mint 9
Ty Cobb Bat Off Shoulder NM-MT 8 (l),
and Rube Marquard Hands at Thighs Mint 9