The American Tobacco Company updated its “White Border” baseball-themed insert cards in 1911 when it introduced the T205 “Gold Border” set. The T205 issue consisted of 209 different cards, each measuring 1-7/16" by 2-5/8". (Although just 198 players are represented in the T205 set, a few multiple poses and some variations account for the higher accepted total). T205s, the lower number applied in The American Card Catalog's definitive listings, simply because "Gold" comes before "White" alphabetically, replaced colorized, photo-based likenesses with illustrations. Border graphics of varying types, usually incorporating team logos and equipment, identified the respective league. Facsimile signatures crossed a portion of many ballplayers' depictions. Hall of Famers include Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Addie Joss, Christy Mathewson, John McGraw and Cy Young. T205's National League player depictions are distinguished by three obverse-side statements of team identity in the form of a decorative logo, a plain caption and a typed legend. These, along with his black-inked signature and portrait, are settled inside its gold border, and back-dropped by one of a number of different colors that seem to have been selected entirely on the basis of their depth and intensity. American League ballplayers' treatments omitted the replica autograph, but added distinctively stylish embellishments like two crossed bats projecting upward from the design's bottom edge, base paths framing the player's picture and gloves, balls, name-banners or other suitable elements as finishing touches.
The issue's 12 Minor Leaguers - especially scarce – also utilized a gold-frame design. “Fine-tuning” of the design by the manufacturer has resulted in several variations, such as Hall of Famers Roger Bresnahan (who appears in "Mouth Open" and "Mouth Closed" versions, the former being more elusive) and Eddie Collins ("Mouth Open" and "Mouth Closed," with "Open" being more rare). St. Louis Browns Bobby Wallace can be found in three distinct T205 incarnations: "With Cap," "No Cap, 1 Line 1910 Stats" and the remaining "No Cap, 2 Lines 1910 Stats" version. Hal Chase exists in three varieties and Dick Hoblitzell is known in four types. E.B. Barger, Otis Crandall, Dolly Gray and David Shean are among the additional individuals who were presented in two different portrayals. All of these variations are regarded as essential to the compilation of a truly complete T205 set.
Ask anyone who is involved in car sales, and they will confirm that it is important to keep a product fresh in the eyes of the buying public. Even if the old standby demonstrates continued success and its appeal remains as strong as ever, the time will come for it to evolve.
Another valid marketing axiom rests in the idea that, while change for the sake of refinement is usually a good thing, the finest points of a commodity's immediate predecessor shouldn't fall victim in the transition to an improved version. Product identity is a concept whose value has been acknowledged in countless winning sales endeavors, and ignored at great peril in many other, less favorable ones.
By 1911, the American Tobacco Company Group's cigarette brands had been the beneficiaries, for three years running, of the parent company's inspired and highly comprehensive T206 White Border baseball-themed insert cards. The stately little relics had achieved widespread acceptance among smokers who liked the concisely rendered, colorful novelties. Those clients responded positively to ATC's proven willingness to update its White Border series by adding new players, noting team-change information in captions, and even - to extend beyond its built-in big city content bias - including various Minor League and Southern League athletes.
One inescapable fact certainly dawned on ATC's product specialists as they contemplated making improvements to the T206 issue: a 1 7/16" by 2 5/8" cardboard rectangle (the card size mandated by the dimensions of the cigarette packs that would house the items) represents a very small area with which to work! When the company's new and improved Gold Border series made its debut, it became clear at once just how determinedly creative the designers had been when it came to bringing about positive change to an already-proven, much-appreciated venture.
Sublime portraits of individual players remained the emphasis of the revamped production, but with that key element in place and overall dimensions of the items' cardboard necessarily unchanged, that similarity to the cards' T206 forebearers became negligible. The primary modification - a feature that made ATC's modernized series stand out from anything that had ever been seen before - was its luscious, gold-colored borders.
T206's plain and discreet, white margins gave way to luminously metallic, shimmering ones. The Gold Borders were truly remarkable successors to their antecedents, but they brought more to the table than a simple change of peripheral hue. T205s - the lower number applied to the newer release in The American Card Catalog's definitive listings, simply because "Gold"comes before "White" alphabetically - replaced colorized, but straightforward, photo-based likenesses with illustrations that were lovingly artistic in character. Border graphics of varying types - usually incorporating team logo devices and arrangements of baseball equipment and placed in a specific manner that visually announced the league with which a subject was associated - enhanced each card's aesthetic. Facsimile signatures coursing across a portion of many ballplayers' depictions afforded another up-close touch. Furthermore, short biographies and statistical summaries were often added to the cards' backs.
The upgrade of the T206 set was an important undertaking to many, and clearly T205's designers had regarded the task in exactly that vein. The result of the timely revision of ATC's baseball insert production was a gift to the collecting hobby in the form of a fabulous, gold-enhanced gallery of the era's most storied ballplaying figures.
Composition - Although just 198 players are represented in the T205 set, there are, counting a few multiple poses and a number of legitimate variations, 209 different cards in the series. Hall of Famers abound in the release, with such stars as Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Addie Joss, Christy Mathewson, John McGraw and Cy Young appearing on T205 entries that are among each subject enshrinee's most coveted and prized career-contemporary collectibles from the era.
T205's National League player depictions are distinguished by no less than three obverse-side statements of team identity in the form of a decorative logo, a plain caption and a spelledout legend. These, along with his black-inked signature and portrait, are settled inside its gold border, and back-dropped by one of a number of different colors that seem to have been selected entirely on the basis of their depth and intensity. American League ballplayers' treatments omitted their replica autographs, but added distinctively stylish embellishments like two crossed bats projecting upward from the design's bottom edge, basepaths framing the player's picture and gloves, balls, name-banners or other suitable elements as finishing touches. Finally, the issue's 12 Minor Leaguers - small in number and especially scarce - borrowed a special kind of gold-frame design from an American Tobacco Company non-sports release, its "Military Series." There's ATC's product identity in action, once again!
No discussion of T205 would be complete without mention of the features of the cards' backs. The manufacturer conceded valuable space, which, in T206, had been devoted entirely to promotion of its brands, to information pertaining to the player shown on a card's front. This feature included a formal name caption at the top, followed by a brief description of the athlete's career, and then in most cases, a couple of lines of statistical highlights from the 1908-10 seasons.
Key Features and Rarities - Arguably, the most enthusiastically desired T205 singles are those already mentioned, which feature the game's immortals: Cobb, Mathewson, Young and the others are keystone acquisitions for the finest collection.
Although none of T205's players, including the big names, are demonstrably more rare than others, the same cannot be said for its variations. Apparently, a bit of fine tuning of the Gold Borders' content on the part of its manufacturer resulted in several entries that can be counted upon to challenge modern-day hobbyists.
Since the cards do not bear numbers assigned by their makers - a convenient feature that did not become commonplace in trading cards until a generation later - early cataloguers of cards invented brief, handy terms to note readily identifiable attributes in each of T205's variations. For example, Hall of Famers Roger Bresnahan (who appears in "Mouth Open" and "Mouth Closed" versions, the former being more elusive) and Eddie Collins ("Mouth Open" and "Mouth Closed," with "Open" regarded as the toughie) lead the parade of the series' anomalies and are routinely described as noted. Another Cooperstown inductee, the St. Louis Browns' Bobby Wallace, can be found in three distinct T205 incarnations: "With Cap," "No Cap, 1 Line 1910 Stats" and the remaining "No Cap, 2 Lines 1910 Stats" version, which commands serious attention whenever an example surfaces.
A number of the issue's lesser lights have their quirks, too. The notorious Hal Chase exists in three varieties and Dick Hoblitzell is known in four types. E.B. Barger, Otis Crandall, Dolly Gray and David Shean are among the additional individuals who were presented in two different portrayals.
All of these variations are regarded as essential to the compilation of a truly complete T205 set and several of them, as noted, pose serious obstacles for the dedicated specialist.
As with T206, certain reverse-side advertisements can be thoroughly vexing for the person who wishes to assemble samples of the series' eclectic branding devices. The cardbacks' alliances range from ATC's old standards (Piedmont and Sweet Caporal, both of which are routinely seen) to such blindingly rare and obviously short-lived brands as Hindu and Drum. Eleven different cigarette brands in all can be found showcased on the backs of T205s, and constructing that group alone is tantalizing in its difficulty.
Several other depictions are considered condition rarities; that is, they're much harder than most T205 cards to locate in a quantifiably top-notch state of physical preservation. This aspect is subject to fluctuation and maturation - the latter being a process that will take place over time, as more T205s come to light and are submitted for evaluation by professional grading services.
Bottom Line - The American Tobacco Company faced a daunting task - improving upon its priceless T206 effort - and responded with the creation of a museum-quality array of new baseball collectibles. What could the company do for an encore to the White Borders? Some may have posed that question aloud, late in 1910, and ATC sure showed them. In the process, T205's maker gave force to the premise, which clearly would become important in later years, that baseball card productions should be renewed periodically, preferably on an annual basis and with bold, captivating new features. And it added yet another, vital chapter to America's legacy in trading cards as they specifically applied to the country's cherished National Pastime.
|Leon K. Ames|
|Jas. P. Archer|
|Home Run Baker|
|E.B. Barger (Full B On Cap)|
|E.B. Barger (Partial B On Cap)|
|John W. Bates|
|George G. Bell|
|Roger P. Bresnahan (Closed Mouth)|
|Roger P. Bresnahan (Open Mouth)|
|Hal Chase (Both Ears, Border Ends)|
|Hal Chase (Both Ears, Border Extends)|
|Hal Chase (Left Ear Only)|
|Fred C. Clarke|
|Eddie Collins (Closed Mouth)|
|Eddie Collins (Open Mouth)|
|Frank J. Corridon|
|Otis Crandall (T Crossed In Name)|
|Otis Crandall (T Not Crossed In Name)|
|Chas. S. Dooin|
|Michael J. Doolan|
|Patsy Dougherty (Red Sock Emblem)|
|Patsy Dougherty (White Sox Emblem)|
|John J. Evers|
|John A. Flynn|
|Russ Ford (Black Cap)|
|Russ Ford (White Cap)|
|Wm. A. Foxen|
|George F. Graham (Cubs)|
|George F. Graham (Rustlers)|
|Edward L. Grant|
|Dolly Gray (No Stats)|
|Dolly Gray (Stats On Back)|
|Bob Harmon (Both Ears Show)|
|Bob Harmon (Only Left Ear Shows)|
|Arnold J. Hauser|
|R. Hoblitzell (No Stats)|
|R. Hoblitzell (Cin. After 1908 Stats)|
|R. Hoblitzell (No Cin. After 1908 Stats)|
|R. Hoblitzell (No Cin.1908, Hoblitzel)|
|Miller J. Huggins|
|John E. Hummell|
|John G. Kling|
|Floyd M. Kroh|
|Frank Lang (Lange)|
|A. Latham (A. Latham On Back)|
|A. Latham (W.A. Latham On Back)|
|Thomas W. Leach|
|John B. Lobert|
|Sherwood R. Magee|
|M.A. McLean (Initials Actually J.B.)|
|P.J. Moran (No Stray Line Of Type)|
|P.J. Moran (Stray Line Of Type)|
|Thomas J. Needham|
|John A. Rowan|
|George N. Rucker|
|David Shean (Cubs)|
|David Shean (Rustlers)|
|Jas. T. Sheckard|
|Fred C. Snodgrass|
|George F. Suggs|
|Bobby Wallace (No Cap,1 Line 1910 Stats)|
|Bobby Wallace (No Cap,2 Lines 1910 Stats)|
|Bobby Wallace (With Cap)|
|Kirb. White (Pirates)|
|Doc White (White Sox)|
|Irvin K. Wilhelm ("Suffe Ed" In 18th Line)|
|Irvin K. Wilhelm ("Suffered" In 18th Line)|
|J. Owen Wilson|
|George R. Wiltse (Both Ears Show)|
|George R. Wiltse (Right Ear Only)|