‘It’s In The Details’
|Size||1 1/2″ x 2 3/4″
|Number in Set
1916 Tango Eggs Overview
Despite having only about 20 cards, the 1916 Tango Eggs set is notoriously difficult as the cards are mostly very rare. The set features a collection of baseball players, including some big names, such as Ty Cobb, Eddie Collins, and others. The cards went relatively unknown to most collectors until the 1990s when nearly 800 of them were found all at once.
Backs include an advertisement for Tango brand eggs, packed by L. Frank and Company in New Orleans, Louisiana. The text reads:
“Ask your grocer for ‘Tango Brand Eggs’
Every one guaranteed to be of ‘Finest Quality’
Packed only by L. Frank & Company
New Orleans, LA
The set seems to parallel the E106 American Caramel set. All of the pictures used in the Tango Eggs issue were pictures from that set.
It is often believed that most of the Tango Eggs cards were never actually distributed. Certainly, the ones found in the major initial find in the 1990s were not issued. That is evident because of the condition they were found in. Some Tango Eggs cards are known with most being aged as you would expect. That seems to indicate that either few were issued or few survived.
So far, we know of four players in the Tango Eggs set that do not appear in E106 – Buck Weaver, Billy Meyer, Ray Morgan, and Hap Felsch. It is often cited that their cards feature the ‘wrong’ pictures but that might not necessarily be true.
Those four players did indeed use pictures that were utilized for other players in E106. Weaver’s card uses a picture for a card that was used for Joe Tinker. Meyer’s uses that of Fred Jacklitsch. Ray Morgan’s uses that of Mike Doolan and Hap Felsch’s uses that of Ray Demmitt. However, that trick has been pulled several times in other sets. To a greater extreme, look, for example, at the E91 American Caramel set or the N284 Buchner Gold Coin set.
So why were some different players used in the Tango Eggs set? I personally think team changes were behind it.
Each of the four known players that were added replaced players that changed teams between 1915 and 1916. 1915 was the year the E106 American Caramel set was released and Tango Eggs was a 1916 issue. Tango Eggs may not have known the new destinations for the players involved and used different players. Or perhaps they simply wanted to feature different players. Whatever the reason, they decided to put entirely new players in the set instead while still using the artwork. I believe that was done intentionally and was not necessarily in error.
A completely confirmed checklist does not exist for the set. That’s because there are some unconfirmed reports of cards being available.
That linked PSA article above, for example, cites a second Ty Cobb card that exists although a picture of it is not really known to the hobby. It does not appear in most checklists because evidence of its existence is not widely known. If the checklist does follow E106 entirely, that would make sense, however, as two Cobb cards are found in that release.
In addition, while Honus Wagner and Joe Tinker do exist on most checklists, their presence in the set is unconfirmed, too. In fact, REA offered $100,000 for evidence of their existence back in 2007.
A Tinker card would make sense. One of Tinker’s E106 photos was used in the Tango Eggs set but he had two E106 cards. The second, a portrait, could easily have been kept for the Tango Eggs issue. That would make Wagner likely, too. Wagner is not only in the E106 set but has two cards. Two Wagners could even have been included based on that comparison or, like others, the second Wagner image could have been used for someone else. Unlike others that had pictures used, though, Wagner did not swap teams in between 1915 and 1916.
While all of the cards are rare, at least two stand out in the set as being more available than others.
In a 1995 letter from the family discovering the cards, Bob Bescher and Hughie Jennings were said to have been found much more than the others. In fact, more than 100 of their cards was said to be present while other cards had fewer than five known cards. That statement seems to hold true based on PSA population reports, which show many more of those cards being graded than others.
In addition, the Buck Wagner card could have been printed more than some others as well. The pop reports show that card being graded almost as much as the Bescher, though, as I’ve said before regarding grading, collectors tend to have star players graded more frequently than commons.
Most of the population of the cards stems from the find of these cards. As such, many are in tremendous condition. As stated earlier, either few were issued or of the ones that were issued, few survived.
New cards are still being discovered today so it’s possible that the checklist could continue to grow.
A poor version of an Eddie Plank card in the set was discovered recently in 2012 and then later sold for nearly $5,000 in a 2017 auction. Plank’s discovery was an eye-opener because it was not one of the cards known to exist despite that large hoard being found in the 1990s. And given that he is a Hall of Famer, it was an even more important find.
In addition, a previously unchecklisted Rebel Oakes card is now known as well, although it generally does not appear on checklists.
1916 Tango Eggs Checklist
This checklist includes Wagner and Tinker, both of whom are believed to exist but have not been fully confirmed.
- Bob Bescher
- Roger Bresnahan
- Al Bridwell
- Hal Chase
- Ty Cobb
- Eddie Collins
- Sam Crawford
- Red Dooin
- Johnny Evers
- Happy Felsch
- Hughie Jennings
- George McQuillan
- Billy Meyer
- Ray Morgan
- Danny Murphy
- Rebel Oakes
- Eddie Plank
- Germany Schaefer
- Joe Tinker
- Honus Wagner
- Buck Weaver
- Heinie Zimmerman