T205 Gold Border Set A Masterpiece

‘It’s In The Details’

Title T205 Gold Border
Year 1911
Size 1 7/16″ x 2 5/8″
Images Color
Type Tobacco
Number in Set
208 (221 for recognized master set) (232 with known errors but likely more)

T205 Gold Border Overview

T205 JossWhile the T206 set is a fantastic issue in its own right and the most popular pre-war card set, the T205 gold border set is also a true masterpiece. And as I wrote here, its investment potential may be even higher than the T206 release.

208 cards plus errors make up this incredible issue. 221 cards are generally considered good enough for a master set even as other new variances have been discovered. Note that ‘master’ set in the terms of this page indicates the number of different cards, not including all of the back variations. If you consider all of the back variations for each card, there are, of course, many more cards

While there are not a Big 4 in this set like there are in the T206 issue, here are what I believe to be a Big 4 for the T205s.

Interestingly enough, backs of the cards indicate there is a total of 400 designs in the series. Some collectors believe this indicates that other non-sports cards with gold borders were intended to be in the same set. Others believe that, as was the case in many other sets, the expected production of additional cards simply did not take place.

While you might think the T205 set precedes the T206 set because of the numbering, that isn’t the case. The T205s were actually printed just after the T206s. While still a fairly large set with 200+ cards, it wasn’t nearly as large as the massive 524-card T206 issue. And even though some big name players like Hall of Famers Roger Bresnahan and Eddie Collins have more than one card, this is nothing like the T206 set where you have dozens of guys with two, three, four, or even (in the case of Hal Chase, who has three T205 cards) five cards. That, along with no insanely expensive cards, makes it much more realistic to complete.

The set is not without big names, though. Leading the way in the impressive release is Ty Cobb, Addie Joss, Walter Johnson, and Christy Mathewson. The Joss card, in particular, was extremely important. He died prior to the set’s production and his card is a tribute card that is highly desirable. In addition to those big names, there are a number of short prints that are difficult finds. Those short prints make completing the set a reasonable challenge. Most can be found but are not always readily available.

The set is one of the most artistic releases of the pre-war era. The gold borders, which have often faded over time, have helped keep the number of high-grade examples down. National League cards and American League cards are distinctly different. The National League cards are portraits of players with replica signatures. American League cards are portraits, too, but are smaller and the faces are inside of a baseball diamond. In addition to those, a total of 12 minor league cards are also included. While many are common players, those usually sell for a premium over standard major league commons.

Backs of the cards include biographies and statistical information, which was a bit unique for trading cards to that point. It is one of the earliest sets to have both of those on the backs. It is often called the earliest but other sets may be able to stake that claim, too. For example, some of the T212 Obak cards printed from 1909-11 also have those components. Several of the biographies include some interesting facts.

Here are 25 basic facts about the set. And if you’re interested in seeing one of these cards under magnification, here’s a closer look at that.

The set is considered to be one of the top pre-war issues of all time. Still, there are a few things it’s missing that would have improved it.

Errors Vs. Variations

Dougherty T205 White SockDougherty T205 Red SockOne thing of importance is that the set includes both variations and errors. That distinction is important to make because while often lumped together, they do not mean the same thing. These are often all referred to as variations by collectors but that is not really accurate.

Variations are players (i.e. Barger) that have more than one card utilizing different poses. Errors are simply those cards with various mistakes in them. One of the more popular ones, for example, is for player Pat Moran as the back of some of his cards include a stray line of random text. Variations are required for the basic 208-card set. The additional error cards (listed at the bottom here) are needed for the 221-card master set.

Among the variations are also some cards featuring players with team changes. Two of those are Peaches Graham and David Shean. Both players were traded from the Rustlers to the Cubs in 1911 and while the majority of their cards depict them with the Rustlers, both also have cards showing them as members of the Cubs.

The easiest way to keep these separate is to note those cards which were intended to be actual, different cards, and others that simply included mistakes. The actual new cards were variations while the mistakes are errors.

More Unreported T205 Errors and Variations

Titus T205 FrontIt should be noted that while 221 cards comprise a recognized master set, there are in fact several more errors. More print errors/variations continue to pop up to this day and more will almost certainly be added.

One was mentioned in 2012 that has Eddie Collins with a yellow elephant instead of a white one. Shortly before that, three variations of a Dots Miller card were found (with a middle initial of B., middle initial of D., and a middle initial of what looks to be a combination of a D. and a B. Others include a Doc White without quotation marks as well as blue and black variations of George Graham’s signature.

Finally some cards have been known to contain pink hue variations, including one of Hall of Famer Ed Walsh. I have only added the Walsh here because that has been confirmed by various collectors. However, others likely exist.

Finally, it should be noted that some of the errors can only be found with certain backs. The Mathewson ‘1 Loss’ error, for example, is only on Cycle backs. The aforementioned White ‘no quotes’ error is only on Polar Bear backs.

Some of the errors do not carry much of a premium. But others, such as this one for Pat Moran that includes a stray line of printing in his biography can be worth a lot of money. Another valuable error card is one for Dolly Gray. More precisely, the valuable Gray card is the one that shows statistics, sometimes considered to be a corrected card.

Here’s a look at all of the known errors at the time of this publishing.

Green Bordered Cards

t205 gold vs. green borderFinally, one other type of print variation exists, which has caused some cards to have green borders instead of the customary gold ones.

Some collectors believe that the green bordered cards have come from the gold paint simply becoming worn or faded over time. However, it is my belief that the cards merely did not get the proper amount of certain ink colors instead.

I go into greater detail into that topic here but, essentially, other areas of green bordered cards look different in addition to the borders. For example, the Lefty Leifield cards here show some evidence of that. The green bordered card on the right is darker in general. It appears to have too much black ink or missing other colors to adequately produce the brown/gold borders.

That is evident not only in the border area but other places as well, such as the team name at the bottom and the team logo at the top.

T205 Gold Border Checklist

Here is the complete checklist (recognized variations/errors to complete a master set at the bottom):

  1. Ed Abbaticchio
  2. Doc Adkins
  3. Leon Ames
  4. James Archer
  5. Jimmy Austin
  6. Bill Bailey
  7. Home Run Baker
  8. Neal Ball
  9. E.B. Barger (Full ‘B’ on cap)
  10. E.B. Barger (Partial ‘B’ on cap)
  11. Jack Barry
  12. Emil Batch
  13. John Bates
  14. Fred Beck
  15. Beals Becker
  16. George Bell
  17. Chief Bender
  18. Bill Bergen
  19. Bob Bescher
  20. Joe Birmingham
  21. Lena Blackburne
  22. Bill Bransfield
  23. Roger Bresnahan (mouth closed)
  24. Roger Bresnahan (mouth open)
  25. Al Bridwell
  26. Mordecai Brown
  27. Bob Byrne
  28. Hick Cady
  29. Howie Camnitz
  30. Bill Carrigan
  31. Frank Chance
  32. Hal Chase (frame stops at shoulders)
  33. Hal Chase (only left ear)
  34. Eddie Cicotte
  35. Fred Clarke
  36. Ty Cobb
  37. Eddie Collins (mouth closed)
  38. Eddie Collins (mouth open)
  39. Jimmy Collins
  40. Frank Corridon
  41. Otis Crandall
  42. Lou Criger
  43. Bill Dahlen
  44. Jake Daubert
  45. Jim Delehanty
  46. Art Devlin
  47. Josh Devore
  48. W.R. Dickson
  49. Jiggs Donahue
  50. Red Dooin
  51. Mike Doolan
  52. Patsy Dougherty
  53. Tom Downey
  54. Larry Doyle
  55. Hugh Duffy
  56. Jack Dunn
  57. Jimmy Dygert
  58. Dick Egan
  59. Kid Elberfeld
  60. Clyde Engle
  61. Louis Evans
  62. Johnny Evers
  63. Bob Ewing
  64. G.C. Ferguson
  65. Ray Fisher
  66. Art Fletcher
  67. Johnny Flynn
  68. Russ Ford (black cap)
  69. Russ Ford (white cap)
  70. Bill Foxen
  71. Jimmy Frick
  72. Art Fromme
  73. Earl Gardner
  74. Harry Gaspar
  75. George Gibson
  76. Wilbur Goode
  77. George Graham (Cubs)
  78. George Graham (Rustlers)
  79. Ed Grant
  80. Dolly Gray (no stats)
  81. Clark Griffith
  82. Bob Groom
  83. Charlie Hanford
  84. Bob Harmon (both ears)
  85. Bob Harmon (one ear)
  86. Topsy Hartsel
  87. Arnold Hauser
  88. Charlie Hemphill
  89. C.L. Herzog
  90. Dick Hoblitzell (with 1908 Cin, correct name spelling)
  91. Danny Hoffman (white base)
  92. Miller Huggins
  93. John Hummel
  94. Fred Jacklitsch
  95. Hughie Jennings
  96. Walter Johnson
  97. Davy Jones
  98. Tom Jones
  99. Addie Joss
  100. Ed Karger
  101. Ed Killian
  102. Red Kleinow
  103. Johnny Kling
  104. Jack Knight
  105. Ed Konetchy
  106. Harry Krause
  107. Floyd Kroh
  108. Frank Lang
  109. Frank LaPorte
  110. A. Latham (A. on back)
  111. Tom Leach
  112. Atty Lee
  113. Sam Leever
  114. Lefty Leifield (with A. in signature)
  115. Ed Lennox
  116. Paddy Livingston
  117. John Lobert
  118. Bris Lord
  119. Harry Lord
  120. John Lush
  121. Nick Maddox
  122. Sherry Magee
  123. Rube Marquard
  124. Christy Mathewson
  125. A.A. Mattern
  126. Sport McAllister
  127. George McBride
  128. Amby McConnell
  129. P.L. McElveen
  130. John McGraw
  131. Harry McIntyre
  132. Matty McIntyre
  133. John McLean
  134. Fred Merkle
  135. George Merritt
  136. J.T. Meyers
  137. Clyde Milan
  138. John Miller (Middle initial ‘B.’)
  139. Mike Mitchell
  140. Pat Moran
  141. George Moriarty
  142. George Mullin
  143. Danny Murphy
  144. Jack Murray
  145. John Nee
  146. Tom Needham
  147. Rebel Oakes
  148. Rube Oldring
  149. Charley O’Leary
  150. Fred Olmstead
  151. Orval Overall
  152. Fred Parent
  153. George Paskert
  154. Billy Payne
  155. Barney Pelty
  156. John Pfiester
  157. Jimmy Phelan
  158. E.J. Phelps
  159. C. Phillippe
  160. Jack Quinn
  161. A. Raymond
  162. Ed Reulbach
  163. Lewis Richie
  164. John Rowan
  165. George Rucker
  166. W.D. Scanlon
  167. Germany Schaefer
  168. George Schlei
  169. Boss Schmidt
  170. F.M. Schulte
  171. Jim Scott
  172. B.H. Sharpe
  173. David Shean (Cubs)
  174. David Shean (Rustlers)
  175. James Sheckard
  176. Hack Simmons
  177. Tony Smith
  178. Fred Snodgrass
  179. Tris Speaker
  180. Jake Stahl
  181. Oscar Stanage
  182. Harry Steinfeldt
  183. George Stone
  184. George Stovall
  185. Gabby Street
  186. George Suggs
  187. Ed Summers
  188. Jeff Sweeney
  189. Lee Tannehill
  190. Ira Thomas
  191. Joe Tinker
  192. John Titus
  193. Terry Turner
  194. James Vaughn
  195. Heinie Wagner
  196. Bobby Wallace (cap)
  197. Bobby Wallace (no cap)
  198. Ed Walsh
  199. Zack Wheat
  200. Doc White
  201. Kirb White
  202. Irwin Wilhelm ‘suffeed’
  203. Ed Willett
  204. Owen Wilson
  205. George Wiltse (both ears)
  206. George Wiltse (one ear)
  207. Harry Wolter
  208. Cy Young

Errors for recognized 221-card master set

209. Hal Chase (baseline extends down)
210. Otis Crandall (‘T’ uncrossed)
211. Patsy Dougherty (red sock)
212. Dolly Gray (with stats)
213. Dick Hoblitzell (1908 No. Cin.)
214. Dick Hoblitzell (name misspelled)
215. Dick Hoblitzell (no stats)
216. A. Latham (W.A. on back)
217. A. Leifield (A.P. in signature)
218. Christy Mathewson (one loss Cycle back)
219. Pat Moran (stray line of text)
220. Bobby Wallace (one 1910 stat line)
221. Irwin Wilhelm (‘suffered’)

Additional Documented Errors

222. Eddie Collins (yellow elephant)
223. George Graham (black signature)
224. Danny Hoffman (yellow base, no stripe)
225. Danny Hoffman (yellow base with stripe)
226. A. Latham (.A. on back with a faint M before it)
227. Dots Miller (middle initial ‘D.’)
228. Dots Miller (middle initial combination of ‘B.’ and ‘D.’)
229. Fred Snodgrass (missing decimal point)
230. John Titus (stray print mark on Piedmont Factory 25 cards)
231. Ed Walsh (pink printing)
232. Doc White (no quotes)

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