T206 Tobacco Cards: The Legend Lives On

The T206 tobacco baseball card set is one of the most valuable and sought-after collections in sports memorabilia. The set was produced by the American Tobacco Company between 1909 and 1911 and features over 500 different baseball players. The artwork on the cards is highly regarded by collectors and the set is famous for the rarity of one particular card – the Honus Wagner card.

T206 Cy Young card displayed in a top loader card stand

History and Rarity of the T206 Honus Wagner Card

Honus Wagner was one of the greatest baseball players of his era and played shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The T206 Honus Wagner card is considered one of the most valuable cards in the world due to its rarity and historical significance. The reason for the card’s rarity is attributed to Wagner objecting to the use of his image in cigarette advertisements, leading to production of the card being halted after only a small number were printed. According to some estimates, fewer than 200 copies of the card are known to exist. The card’s rarity and historical significance have made it one of the most sought-after items in the world of sports memorabilia.

Recent Sales of the Honus Wagner Card

Recently, in September 2021, a rare T206 Honus Wagner baseball card was sold for a record-breaking $7.25 million. The sale surpasses the previous record of $3.12 million, which was set in 2016. The card was sold to an anonymous buyer by the sports memorabilia company Goldin Auctions.

This sale is a testament to the continued popularity and value of sports memorabilia, particularly rare and highly sought-after items such as the Wagner card. It also highlights the ongoing interest and passion for baseball and its rich history among fans and collectors alike.

T206 Barney Pelty card displayed in a top loader card stand

The Artists Behind the T206 Cards

The T206 set featured artwork by a variety of artists, including Charles Edward “C.E.” Hires, who was known for inventing root beer, and George Burke, who went on to become a renowned photographer. The artists’ work on the T206 cards has become highly regarded by collectors and enthusiasts alike.

In addition to Hires and Burke, other artists who contributed to the T206 set include Louis Glackens, a cartoonist for the Philadelphia Press, and Carl Horner, a Boston-based photographer known for his portraits of baseball players. The artwork on the T206 cards has become a key part of their value, with collectors often paying a premium for cards with particularly striking or well-executed images.

T206 Scoops Carey card displayed in a top loader card stand

Different Backs and Rarity

One of the most interesting aspects of the T206 set is the variety of different backs that were produced. The backs featured a variety of different advertisements for American Tobacco’s various brands, and some of the backs are much rarer than others.

The most common back is the “Piedmont” back, which features an advertisement for Piedmont cigarettes. The Piedmont back accounts for around 60% of all T206 cards. The “Sweet Caporal” back is the second most common, accounting for around 25% of all T206 cards.

However, there are also several backs that are much rarer than the Piedmont and Sweet Caporal backs. The “Polar Bear” back, for example, is extremely rare and accounts for less than 1% of all T206 cards. Other rare backs include the “Old Mill” back, the “Uzit” back, the “Lenox” back, and the “Broad Leaf” back.

The rarity of the different backs can have a big impact on the value of a T206 card. For example, a Honus Wagner card with a “Piedmont” back is worth around $3 million, while a Honus Wagner card with a “Polar Bear” back is worth around $10 million.

T206 Old Mill card back displayed in a PSA card stand

Other Notable Sales of T206 Cards

While the sale of the T206 Honus Wagner card for $7.25 million is undoubtedly the most notable recent sale of a T206 card, there have been other high-profile sales in recent years. In 2019, a set of T206 cards sold for over $1.2 million, while a rare Eddie Plank card sold for over $400,000. The ongoing interest in the T206 set and its cards shows no signs of slowing down, with collectors continuing to seek out rare and valuable pieces.

List of Hall of Fame Players in the T206 Set:

Player Name Year Inducted Team Position
Home Run Baker 1955 Yankees Third Base
Jake Beckley 1971 Pirates First Base
Chief Bender 1953 Athletics Pitcher
Roger Bresnahan 1945 Cardinals Catcher
Mordecai Brown 1949 Cubs Pitcher
Frank Chance 1946 Cubs First Base
Jack Chesbro 1946 Yankees Pitcher
Fred Clarke 1945 Pirates Outfield
Ty Cobb 1936 Tigers Outfield
Eddie Collins 1939 Athletics Second Base
Jimmy Collins 1945 Red Sox Third Base
Sam Crawford 1957 Tigers Outfield
George Davis 1998 Giants Shortstop
Hugh Duffy 1945 Phillies Outfield
Johnny Evers 1946 Cubs Second Base
Elmer Flick 1963 Indians Outfield
Clark Griffith 1946 Senators Pitcher
Miller Huggins 1964 Yankees Second Base
Hughie Jennings 1945 Tigers Shortstop
Walter Johnson 1936 Senators Pitcher
Addie Joss 1978 Naps Pitcher
Willie Keeler 1939 Giants Outfield
Joe Kelley 1971 Dodgers Outfield
Nap Lajoie 1937 Athletics Second Base
Rube Marquard 1971 Giants Pitcher
Christy Mathewson 1936 Giants Pitcher
Iron Man McGinnity 1946 Giants Pitcher
John McGraw 1937 Giants Manager
Eddie Plank 1946 Athletics Pitcher
Tris Speaker 1937 Indians Outfield
Joe Tinker 1946 Cubs Shortstop
Rube Waddell 1946 Athletics Pitcher
Honus Wagner 1936 Pirates Shortstop
Bobby Wallace 1953 Browns Shortstop
Ed Walsh 1946 White Sox Pitcher
Zack Wheat 1959 Dodgers Outfield
Vic Willis 1995 Pirates Pitcher
Cy Young 1937 Naps/Red Sox Pitcher

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