The T-202 set is one of the most innovative sets ever issued.
These cards are commonly referred to as "Triple Folders" within the hobby. Their nickname becomes very obvious when you look at the cards. Each card features a black and white center panel with full color pictures on each side. The end panels can be folded over to completely cover the center panel. Black and white photographs were the basis for the center panel and usually pictures an action scene. The side panels are very similar to T-205 cards, except for the latter's gold borders. In fact, nearly all of the players featured in the T-202 set are also found in the popular T-205 set with the exceptions of Joe Wood and Walt Blair.
The cards were issued by Hassan in 1912. While there is quite a bit of size variation, the cards measure approximately 2-1/4" by 5-1/4" when fully opened. The cards had the end panels folded over when originally inserted into the cigarette packs and in this form measure 2-1/4" by 2-5/8", which is the same size as the center panel. Since every card was folded by the company before it was inserted into the pack, it is impossible to find a card without two vertical creases between the center and end panels.
There are a total of 132 different cards in the set considering all of the possible combinations. Most collectors try and assemble all 132 cards. Others are content to acquire one each of the 76 different center panels. 51 of the center panels have only one side panel combination; the remaining 25 have between two and ten different combinations thus making up the 132 different combinations.
There are two variations in the set. Devlin was traded from the New York Giants to the Boston Rustlers near the time of the set. Hassan originally issued two different cards with Devlin pictured as a Giant but later changed his team designation to the Rustlers. The two center panels that have this variation are "Devlin Gets His Man" and "Too Late For Devlin." Each of these cards has Mathewson on the end panels. In both instances, the Giants variation is much more difficult to come by. The only other card that is thought to be difficult is "Birmingham's Home Run." While this card has had a substantial premium for many years, it is not known why it is considered scarce.
Most of the big names of the day are present in this set. The most notable names are Ty Cobb, Cy Young, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson. There are also many HOFers present on the black and white center panels including Cobb, Lajoie, Speaker and McGraw.
The backs of the cards come with either red or black printing. Each section has its own biography or description and advertisement for Hassan Cork Tip Cigarettes. The biographies and descriptions are fantastic to read and are some of the most detailed ever to appear on a tobacco card.
Not only are the T-202 Hassan Triple Folders one of the hobby's most creative issues ever, they are also considered one of the most beautiful. You cannot ask for much more in a card. Each displays two beautiful full color portraits, a phenomenal black and white action shot and well-written biographies and descriptions on the back.
Kevin Struss is Vice President of Sportscards Plus in Laguna Niguel, California. Mr. Struss has extensive knowledge of vintage baseball cards from the turn of the century.