Frank Chance (Portrait-Yellow) - 1909-1911 T206 White Border

The 1909 to 1911 T206 baseball card set has long been considered one of the most, if not the most, important issues in the entire hobby. The visual appeal of the cards, the immense size of the set, and the incredible player selection make this treasure a collector favorite. Along with the 1933 Goudey and 1952 Topps sets, the classic T206 set is one of “The Big Three” in the world of baseball cards.

You can easily make the argument that “The Monster,” as it is commonly referred to, is truly the pinnacle of all trading cards sets. It is much larger than the 1933 Goudey set, requiring more than twice the amount of cards to complete. It is also arguably more visually appealing than the 1952 Topps set due to the superb artwork used in the design.

Furthermore, the 524-card T206 set is home to the most valuable trading card in the world, the card that has become the symbol of the hobby itself. Of course, I am referring to the Mona Lisa of trading cards . . . the T206 Honus Wagner. The Wagner card shares the limelight with 75 other cards featuring members of baseball’s Hall of Fame, but it is worth more than the other 523 cards combined, assuming they are in the same condition. At the time of this writing (2009), the highest price ever paid for any trading card was $2.8 million, a Wagner example that was graded NM-MT 8 by Professional Sports Authenticator, the leading third-party authentication and grading service.

The Wagner card is so desirable that even low-grade copies that receive only a Poor 1 on a scale of 1 to 10 (the lowest possible grade on the PSA grading scale) have fetched $400,000 at auction. The card, like the set itself, has taken on a life of its own and become an iconic collectible. While Wagner was a true legend of the game and one of the greatest shortstops in baseball history, the card depicting this Hall of Fame member has certainly surpassed the man himself in terms of fame.

Yes, the T206 set may be the most significant release in hobby history. Yes, Honus Wagner was one of the most significant players ever to put on a uniform. Yes, after being pulled from production early on by the manufacturer, only 50 or so examples of this card are known to exist, making it one of the true rarities in the trading card world. All of these facts may be true, but the reason why the T206 Wagner has reached such lofty heights in value is the story behind the man and the card.

The most prevalent misconception about this great card is that it is the rarest of the rare, resulting in its staggering value. What may come as a surprise to most casual collectors or even noncollectors is the fact that the T206 Wagner is not nearly as scarce as some other notable trading card rarities. The number of surviving copies is only part of the story.

There is more than one theory behind the rarity of the card, including a simple contract dispute theory. Many people believe Honus Wagner wanted his card pulled from production because Wagner, though an avid user of tobacco himself, did not want to promote tobacco to children since the cards were packaged with various brands of cigarettes. Knowing what we now know about the dangers of tobacco, especially as it relates to cigarettes, this stance taken by Wagner over 100 years ago becomes all the more interesting.

As with most other great collectibles, such as autographs, game-used equipment, and original photographs, the stories behind the items make them interesting and desirable. Every collectible, in its own way, is a conversation piece. How were these cards distributed? What makes this game-used bat special? Why did Babe Ruth sign this particular document? Every collectible has a story.

This is also true of every figure the collectible relates to, and that is what makes this particular book different from so many of the published hobby guides released over the years. If Honus Wagner were a relatively unknown player, would his T206 card carry the value it has today? No. If a Mickey Mantle game-used bat was instead used by Mickey Vernon, would it be worth anywhere near the same amount? No. Would a baseball signed by Jackie Robinson and one signed by Jackie Jensen be valued the same? No. I think you get the point.

Above all, it is the story behind the person that drives the majority of the value. Otherwise, it may be just a card or just a bat or just a ball. More often than not, it is the sports figure’s name that makes the collectible special. This book takes a look at each individual pictured on the cards, from superstars of the day like Ty Cobb and Cy Young to lesser-known major and minor leaguers like Clyde Engle and Bill Cranston. Each player has a story and each player contributed to the game . . . and all of them are part of the “monstrosity” known as the T206 set.

Today, we see virtually everything and know almost everything about current players, both on and off the field. In some cases, I would argue that we are presented with too much information, but this is the culture we live in today. With the immense sports coverage on television and the multitude of Internet sites devoted to sports, it seems as if the modern athlete cannot move a muscle without being caught on camera.

We do not have that luxury when it comes to learning about baseball players who were active during the early part of the 20th century. We often have to rely on period photographs and statistical information, at least whatever statistics can be found, in order to paint the picture of a time long past, to tell the story of the players who made history before history was documented on film after every pitch, every swing, and every catch.

That is what this book is all about, the story behind each man found in this legendary set, men who put on a uniform during a time when the equipment was a bit crude and the game wasn’t plagued by performance-enhancing-drug controversies. The game of baseball, no matter the era, is a terrific sport. Somehow, it is complicated yet simple at the same time. Its combatants must use almost equal combinations of brain and brawn in order to defeat their foes, perhaps more so than in any other sport.

Like the game of chess, every move has an impact on the outcome. For the astute fan, there are many games within the game that go unnoticed by the casual spectator, but it is all part of what makes baseball so interesting. The subtle communication between defenders as they position themselves before each hitter, the tension between a base runner trying to steal a base and the catcher trying to stop him, and managers trying to outthink each other on every play are all part of the complicated dance known as baseball. Complexity defines the sport, and that term may best describe the iconic T206 set.

- Joe Orlando: The T206 Collection: The Players and Their Stories

Frank Leroy Chance

Born: September 9, 1876 - Fresno, CA
Died: September 15, 1924 - Los Angeles, CA
Batted: RH
Threw: RH
Position: 1B
Career BA: .296
Managerial Record: 946–648

Chicago Orphans/Cubs NL (1898–1904; player/manager: 1905–1912)
New York Yankees AL (player/manager: 1913–1914)
Boston Red Sox AL (manager: 1923)

Frank Chance was an excellent ballplayer and manager. Immortalized in “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon,” also known as “Tinker to Evers to Chance,” a 1910 poem by Franklin Pierce Adams, he earned the nickname “The Peerless Leader” by leading the Cubs to four National League pennants and two World Series titles in 5 years. Their record of 116 victories in 1906 still remains unsurpassed. Chance batted over .300 on four occasions, and led the National League in stolen bases twice. He was also the first player ever to be ejected from a World Series Game. His 946–648 record as manager is outstanding. Chance managed in the minors, and came back to manage the Sox in 1923. He became ill after that season, and died the next year at age 48. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1946.

– Tom and Ellen Zappala, The T206 Collection: The Players and Their Stories 

Click link to see a complete population breakdown by tobacco brand/back

Condition Census (Explain)

Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 MINT 9
1 MINT 9
2 NM-MT 8 (11)


Date Price Grade Lot # Auction House Auction/Seller Type Cert
12/15/2006 $1,679 7 86 Memory Lane, Inc. Holy Grail Auction Auction 12448666
05/03/2007 $1,385 7 364 Lelands April 2007 Catalog Auction 03011377
12/16/2007 $1,388 7 136 Memory Lane, Inc. Serious Rarities - December 8th Auction Auction 12146481
12/03/2016 $1,620 7 76 Greg Bussineau Auctions Fall 2016 Vintage Trading Cards Auction Auction 12448666
01/29/2017 $2,083 7 38 Goldin Auctions Winter Auction 2017 Ending January 29 Auction 11145003
12/15/2017 $2,250 7 142462419332 eBay davidssportscards Buy It Now 12448666
04/17/2018 $6,500 7 160775331330 eBay damooa Buy It Now 09126839
02/12/2011 $625 6 688 Goodwin and Co. Auctions Masterpieces and Uncommon Commons XXXI Auction 31086703
06/15/2012 $582 6 161 Lelands Spring 2012 Catalog Auction Auction 03769649
08/18/2012 $439 6 156 Memory Lane, Inc. Historical Rarities Auction 04521523
12/13/2013 $486 6 134 SCP Auctions Fall Premier Auction 2013 Auction 31086703
05/14/2014 $630 6 318 SCP Auctions Spring Premier Auction 2014 Auction 06493916
07/28/2016 $598 6 80079 Heritage Auctions 2016 July 28 The 1909-11 T206 White Border PSA S... Jul 28, 2016 Auction 12169466
09/10/2016 $618 6 182268923257 eBay gsb2003 Auction 12169466
10/16/2016 $611 6 282218832747 eBay oldvintagecardboard Auction 08119683
11/05/2016 $540 6 819 Goldin Auctions Summer Premium Live and Catalog Auction Auction 08119683
03/12/2017 $494 6 222427648910 eBay fitzyssportscards Auction 12169466
05/06/2018 $1,920 6 405 Robert Edward Auctions 2018 Spring Auction 01508570
07/22/2019 $780 6 81779 Heritage Auctions 2019 July 18 - 20 Summer Sports Card Catalog Auction Auction 05024543
12/15/2006 $378 5 85 Memory Lane, Inc. Holy Grail Auction Auction 30745276
10/05/2008 $335 5 41002 Heritage Auctions Sunday Internet Sports Auction Oct 5, 2008 Auction 09108957
01/22/2010 $416 5 86 Mile High Card Company January 2010 Auction Auction 40463695
12/02/2010 $384 5 266 Goodwin and Co. Auctions Masterpieces and Uncommon Commons XXX Auction 40143611
04/19/2016 $474 5 159 Mile High Card Company May 2016 Auction Auction 06174062
03/08/2017 $450 5 371880448431 eBay probstein123 Auction 04293731
04/12/2017 $418 5 142338300679 eBay mr.ginter Auction 05025967
08/26/2017 $898 5 263155982073 eBay doubleagle007 Auction 31429767
09/10/2010 $236 4 177 Goodwin and Co. Auctions Masterpieces and Uncommon Commons XXIX Auction 11907173
02/12/2011 $214 4 704 Goodwin and Co. Auctions Masterpieces and Uncommon Commons XXXI Auction 30113413
01/01/2012 $8,888 4 184 Robert Edward Auctions 2012 Auction Auction 40281484
05/27/2012 $143 4 (MK) 43002 Heritage Auctions Sunday Internet Sports Collectibles Auction May 27, 2012 Auction 31343705
08/14/2014 $196 4 40 Love of the Game Auctions Set Builders Auction - Closes August 16, 2014 Auction 90289277
11/20/2015 $5,777 4 152 Goodwin and Co. Auctions Masterpieces and Uncommon Commons LXII Auction 40281484
01/17/2017 $3,037 4 266 Memory Lane, Inc. 2016 Winter Rarities Auction Auction 40281484
04/20/2018 $245 4 (MK) 273140689017 eBay ppgustafson Best Offer 90381646
05/09/2019 $247 4 273830893769 eBay fathernson2210 Auction 50067636
03/23/2008 $239 3 44002 Heritage Auctions Sunday Internet Sports Auction Mar 23, 2008 Auction 90260980
06/17/2011 $159 3 430 Goodwin and Co. Auctions Masterpieces and Uncommon Commons XXXIII Auction 40464943
10/30/2016 $143 3 45007 Heritage Auctions Sunday Internet Sports Collectibles Auction Oct 30, 2016 Auction 30954777
06/21/2019 $119 3 254264375577 eBay peterm3968 Auction 04462195
09/17/2019 $180 2 323854587044 eBay supersnake55 Best Offer 11973804