By Joe Orlando and Greg Bussineau
n the hobby, there are a host of challenges that collectors encounter each day but no challenge may be greater than attempting to complete a T206 baseball set in high-grade –especially if a collector wanted to include all the great rarities that help make this issue so special.
Years ago, a gentleman by the name of Kirk Harris assembled an incredible T206 group but later auctioned it off through the notable veterans at SportsCards Plus for over $1,000,000! That set, interestingly enough, did not include the Honus Wagner card. Once that collection was disassembled, it was time for someone else to step up to the plate and attempt this massive undertaking.
Very few have attempted this since but, today, there are a small group of collectors working on PSA graded T206 sets and not just any sets – but high-grade sets. What is even more incredible today is the renewed interest in the lower grades. As many of you may have noticed, one of the hottest areas of the market is low-to-mid grade T206's.
It was really just a matter of time. When you combine the fact that these cards are about 100 years old, they feature beautiful artwork and the set includes so many classic keys – it's no wonder that collectors have once again been drawn to these tobacco gems. This set seems to offer everything a collector would want in a particular issue.
Hobby veteran Greg Bussineau has put together some thoughts about this legendary set, providing collectors with the basics and the detail needed to fully comprehend the challenge that lies ahead.
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!
|Player||Explanation||Current SMR "8" Value|
|1||Honus Wagner||few examples exist||$1,265,000|
|2||Ed Plank||few examples exist||$200,000|
|3||Sherry "Magie" Magee||error card||$53,000|
|4||Bill O'Hara||few examples exist||$16,500|
|5||Joe Doyle||caption variation||$178,598|
|6||Ray Demmitt||team chg.||$18,500|
|7||Kid Elberfeld (portrait)||team chg.||$7,250|
|8||Carl Lundgren||team chg.||$1,850|
|9||George Brown||team chg.||$4,000|
|10||Frank Smith||team chg.||$410|
|11||Red Kleinow||team chg.||$1,400|
|12||Bill Dahlen||team chg.||$2,000|
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||Explanation||Current SMR "8" Value|
|1||Home Run Baker||only card issued||$1,850|
|2b||Chief Bender||pitching with trees||$3,500|
|2c||Chief Bender||pitching no trees||$2,200|
|3b||Roger Bresnahan||with bat||$1,750|
|6||Jack Chesbro||only card issued||$2,300|
|7c||Ty Cobb||bat off shoulder||$13,000|
|7d||Ty Cobb||bat on shoulder||$17,000|
|8b||Willie Keeler||with bat||$3,850|
|9||Eddie Collins||only card issued||$1,850|
|10b||Sam Crawford||with bat||$1,750|
|11b||Johnny Evers||with bat, Chicago||$2,800|
|11c||Johnny Evers||with bat, Cubs||$1,850|
|12||Miller Huggins||hands at mouth or portrait||$1,800|
|13||Hughie Jennings||1 hand, both hands, or portrait||$1,950|
|14b||Walter Johnson||hands at chest||$10,000|
|15a||Addie Joss||hands at chest||$1,750|
|16c||Nap Lajoie||with bat||$3,350|
|17a||Rube Marquard||hands at thighs||$1,850|
|18a||Christy Mathewson||dark cap||$6,400|
|18b||Christy Mathewson||white cap||$6,500|
|19a||John McGraw||finger in air||$1,850|
|19b||John McGraw||glove at hip||$2,700|
|19c||John McGraw||portrait-no cap||$2,250|
|20||Tris Speaker||only card issued||$5,750|
|21a||Joe Tinker||bat off shoulder||$2,000|
|21b||Joe Tinker||bat on shoulder||$2,200|
|21c||Joe Tinker||hands on knee||$2,850|
|23||Ed Walsh||only card issued||$3,500|
|24||Zack Wheat||only card issued||$3,300|
|25b||Cy Young||bare hand shows||$8,500|