T207 Brown Background Set

‘It’s In The Details’

Title T207 Brown Background
Year 1912
Size 1 7/16″ x 2 5/8″
Images Color
Type Tobacco
Number in Set
200 (207 including error variations)

T207 Brown Background Overview

Marsans T207Frank Chance T207While the American Tobacco Company’s (ATC) earlier releases, the T205 set and the T206 set are much more popular with collectors, their final issue is much tougher to find.

The T207 Brown Background set is recognized as one of the more difficult tobacco card issues to assemble. It’s not only somewhat large at 208 cards, but many of the cards are very tough to find in any condition. It is easily much rarer than the T205 or T206 sets.

In all, three of the cards are particularly difficult — those of Ward Miller, Louis Lowdermilk, and Irving Lewis. This trio of unknown players are generally viewed as the toughest ones in the set. That, however, isn’t necessarily true. A deeper dive into the set shows several other cards that could be just as rare — if not rarer.

The set lacks the bright colors from the ATC’s first two sets – the T205 and T206 issues. It also lacks a lot of the big names. While Hall of Famers Ty Cobb, Cy Young, and Christy Mathewson, help anchor both of those sets, they’re missing here. Also MIA are greats such as Honus Wagner and Joe Jackson. So are other big names that appeared in both of those other two issues – Hall of Famers like Eddie Collins, Home Run Baker, Mordecai Brown, Fred Clarke, Jimmy Collins, Hugh Duffy, Johnny Evers, Clark Griffith, Hughie Jennings, Addie Joss, and Ed Walsh. Here’s a closer look at the missing stars that are not found in the set.

Why all of those players were left out after being included in the first two sets is a mystery. But while there are a lot of big names missing, there were also some players included that were new to the ATC sets, including Max Carey, Buck Weaver, Smoky Joe Wood. In all, there are 13 Hall of Famers in the release. The card of Weaver, in particular, is one of the biggest cards in the set as it’s his major league rookie card.

Additionally, some of the artwork is not as detailed as seen on other sets. Walter Johnson is the biggest name in the set but his card is considered one of the ugliest the set has to offer.

The biggest difference in the set compared to the T205 and T206 sets is arguably the design. While those were colorful, descriptive lithographs of players, this set is much more grim in appearance. It gets its nickname, the Brown Background set, for its chocolate brown backdrops. Some color was used for the imagery but not much. Aside from some color in the skin tones, the images are mostly printed with only brown and black ink. Splotches of color appear in some uniform logos and in uniforms but the cards are mostly dark in appearance.

That, of course, doesn’t appeal to many collectors, who prefer the brighter (and, frankly, better) artwork in the T205 and T206 set. But it is a unique issue and it can even be argued that the contrast is somewhat welcomed since it went against how other card sets of the same era were designed.

Removing the ‘Big Four’ cards from the T206 set, the T207 issue is the most difficult to assemble of the three ATC releases. In addition to the many cards with the tougher Broadleaf/Cycle backs, several tough commons with Recruit backs exist as well. A solid 75 or so cards from the set are just not that easy to find. You will see them for sale, but they are not nearly as plentiful as others in the T205 and T206 sets.

T207 Back Confusion

T207 Cycle BackT207 Broadleaf BackIn addition, the real allure to the set is the number of tough backs. That’s because brands that made only certain cards were very limited. Cards in the set were generally printed with either one of two sets of backs. One set included either Recruit or Napoleon backs while the other included Broadleaf or Cycle backs. The Recruit backs are easily the most common.

Some cards in both sets have anonymous backs with no advertising label and a few have recently been discovered with ultra rare Red Cross backs. But the thing to remember is that aside from the anonymous or Red Cross backs, cards in the two sets of backs (Recruit/Napoleon and Broadleaf/Cycle) don’t mix. For example – you won’t find a card with a Broadleaf back and a Recruit back.

Anonymous backs can be found for players in either of the two aforementioned groups (Recruit/Napoleon and Broadleaf/Cycle) while the Red Cross ones are only known with Broadleaf/Cycle subjects.

The Broadleaf/Cycle cards are much more scarce than the Recruit/Napoleon cards. And the bad news for set collectors is that there are around 50 of the former to find. And several of those, including Irving Lewis, Vic Saier, Ward Miller, and Louis Lowdermilk are very difficult to find. Some money can be saved by purchasing Anonymous backs for those cards as they are generally less expensive. However, finding them with any of the three backs is not an easy task.


Austin T207 with STLAustin T207A set can be considered complete at 200 cards. There are seven known and accepted variants but they are not new poses or new cards, really. Some collectors may determine they are needed for a ‘complete’ set, but others will not.

All variations, with the exception of a trio of cards for Paddy Livingston, can be seen as print errors of a sort. Even the Livingston cards do not have new poses – only a difference in the jersey emblem to fix a mistake. One of his cards (almost certainly, his first one) has an ‘A’ for the Philadelphia Athletics, his 1911 team. However, his other cards have a ‘C’ for his correct team in 1912, Cleveland.

Some of the variations appear to have been printed in equal quantities, making one card no more or less valuable than the other. Others, however, are significantly rarer. The highest profile variation is that of Irving Lewis, a little-known player. Both of his cards are rare but the version missing an emblem on his sleeve is much tougher to find and is generally worth five figures.

You can read more about the variations in the set here.

T207 Brown Ink Backs

One rarity of the T207 set not known by all collectors is that some cards are found with brown-ink backs.

The text on standard T207 card backs is printed in black ink or, in the case of only Cycle, with red ink. However, similar to the brown-backed Broadleaf cards in the T206 set, some T207s can be found with printing in brown ink.

These cards are extremely rare. Collectors looking to purchase one should be wary that the back is simply not a faded black-ink card that looks brown. True brown ink backs are easy to distinguish between black ones when placed next to each other.

Harry Davis Variation

In addition to the 200 cards in the set, there are some variations for master set collectors. Currently, there are six unquestioned variations, as identified in the checklist at the bottom of this page. However, a few questionable ones exist.

Harry Davis, for example, is sometimes identified as having three variations for the lettering on his cap. Proponents of this variation state that he has cards with the ‘C’ on his cap in blue, brown, and white.

For what it’s worth, PSA has recognized these versions and has labeled its flips accordingly, noting the variation. However, to most collectors, the variation appears to be more of a case of certain ink colors running out or fading than a true variation. The Ray Fisher card, for example, has a very clear variation with him featured in a white cap and also a blue cap. Both colors are distinctive and easy to see the difference. The Davis variation, meanwhile, has only modest differences.

For that reason, I have not recognized this variation in the checklist below.

T207 Carrigan/Wagner Error Nonsense

Collectors should note that while there are 208 cards recognized in most master set checklists, that isn’t really accurate. Carrigan is known with both a correct back with his bio and also with an incorrect back featuring the bio of Heinie Wagner. Similarly, Wagner’s card is known with both a correct back and a Carrigan back.

However, other cards in the set have been found with incorrect backs, too. Despite that, only the Carrigan/Wagner back errors have been recognized in most checklists.

The Carrigan/Wagner cards have long since been listed in checklists but it is more of an anomaly than an actual variation because others can be found with different backs. Thus, the total master set checklist should sit at 206 cards and that is what I’ve listed here.

Jack Barry Horizontal Pose

BarryThe set includes 200 cards (minus errors/variations) and all are vertical pictures save for one. Jack Barry’s card is a unique horizontal pose that is different and stands out a little bit.

In the picture, Barry is seen making a play on a ball as part of the Athletics’ legendary $100,000 infield, along with Stuffy McInnis, Home Run Baker, and Eddie Collins. Baker and Collins were both Hall of Famers but not found in this set.

Here’s more on this unique card.

T207 Brown Background Checklist

Below is the full checklist of the 200 cards with variations noted. With all of the error variations, there are a total of 207 cards.

The tougher Broadleaf/Cycle cards are denoted below in italics/bold.

  1. Jack Adams
  2. Eddie Ainsworth
  3. Rafael Almeida
  4. Jimmy Austin (no ‘StL on shirt)
  5. Neal Ball
  6. Cy Barger
  7. Jack Barry
  8. Paddy Bauman
  9. Beals Becker
  10. Chief Bender
  11. Joe Benz
  12. Bob Bescher
  13. Joe Birmingham
  14. Lena Blackburne
  15. Fred Blanding
  16. Bruno Block
  17. Ping Bodie
  18. Hugh Bradley
  19. Roger Bresnahan
  20. Jack Bushelman
  21. Hank Butcher
  22. Bobby Byrne
  23. Nixey Callahan
  24. Howie Camnitz
  25. Max Carey
  26. Bill Carrigan
  27. Geoge Chalmers
  28. Frank Chance
  29. Eddie Cicotte
  30. Tommy Clarke (no emblem on sleeve)
  31. King Cole
  32. John Collins
  33. Bob Coulson
  34. Tex Covington
  35. Doc Crandall
  36. Bill Cunningham
  37. Dave Danforth
  38. Bert Daniels
  39. Jake Daubert
  40. Harry Davis
  41. Jim Delehanty
  42. Claude Derrick
  43. Art Devlin
  44. Josh Devore
  45. Mike Donlin
  46. Ed Donnelly
  47. Red Dooin
  48. Tom Downey
  49. Larry Doyle
  50. Dellos Drake
  51. Ted Easterley
  52. Rube Ellis
  53. Clyde Engle
  54. Tex Irwin
  55. Steve Evans
  56. Jack Ferry
  57. Ray Fisher (white cap)
  58. Art Fletcher
  59. Jack Fournier
  60. Art Fromme
  61. Del Gainor
  62. Larry Gardner
  63. Lefty George
  64. Roy Golden
  65. Hank Gowdy
  66. Peaches Graham
  67. Jack Graney
  68. Vean Gregg
  69. Casey Hageman
  70. Sea Lion Hall
  71. Ed Hallinan
  72. Earl Hamilton
  73. Bob Harmon
  74. Grover Hartley
  75. Olaf Henriksen
  76. John Henry
  77. Buck Herzog
  78. Bob Higgins
  79. Red Hoff
  80. Willie Hogan
  81. Harry Hooper
  82. Ben Houser
  83. Ham Hyatt
  84. Walter Johnson
  85. George Kaler
  86. Billy Kelly
  87. Jay Kirke
  88. Johnny Kling
  89. Otto Knabe
  90. Elmer Knetzer
  91. Ed Konetchy
  92. Harry Krause
  93. Walt Kuhn
  94. Joe Kutina
  95. Frank Lange
  96. Jack Lapp
  97. Arlie Latham
  98. Tommy Leach
  99. Lefty Leifield
  100. Ed Lennox
  101. Duffy Lewis
  102. Irving Lewis (no patch emblem on sleeve)
  103. Jack Lively
  104. Paddy Livingston (‘c’ on shirt)
  105. Bris Lord
  106. Harry Lord
  107. Louis Lowdermilk
  108. Rube Marquard
  109. Armando Marsans
  110. George McBride
  111. Alex McCarthy
  112. Ed McDonald
  113. John McGraw
  114. Harry McIntyre
  115. Matty McIntyre
  116. Bill McKechnie
  117. Larry McLean
  118. Clyde Milan
  119. Dots Miller
  120. Otto Miller
  121. Roy Miller
  122. Ward Miller
  123. Mike Mitchell
  124. Mike Mitchell (actually Willie)
  125. George Mogridge
  126. Earl Moore
  127. Pat Moran
  128. Cy Morgan
  129. Ray Morgan
  130. George Moriarty
  131. George Mullin (‘D’ on cap)
  132. Tom Needham
  133. Red Nelson
  134. Hub Northern
  135. Les Nunamaker
  136. Rebel Oakes
  137. Buck O’Brien
  138. Rube Oldring
  139. Ivy Olson
  140. Marty O’Toole
  141. Dode Paskert
  142. Barney Pelty
  143. Hub Perdue
  144. Rube Peters
  145. Art Phelan
  146. Jack Quinn
  147. Pat Ragan
  148. Arthur Rasmussen
  149. Morrie Rath
  150. Ed Reulbach
  151. Nap Rucker
  152. Bud Ryan
  153. Vic Saier
  154. Bill Scanlon
  155. German Schaefer
  156. Bill Schardt
  157. Frank Schulte
  158. Jim Scott
  159. Hank Severeid
  160. Mike Simon
  161. Frank Smith
  162. Wally Smith
  163. Fred Snodgrass
  164. Tris Speaker
  165. Harry Spratt
  166. Eddie Stack
  167. Oscar Stanage
  168. Bill Steele
  169. Harry Steinfeldt
  170. George Stovall
  171. Gabby Street
  172. Amos Strunk
  173. Billy Sullivan
  174. Bill Sweeney
  175. Lee Tannehill
  176. Claude Thomas
  177. Joe Tinker
  178. Bert Tooley
  179. Terry Turner
  180. Lefty Tyler
  181. Hippo Vaughn
  182. Heinie Wagner
  183. Tilly Walker
  184. Bobby Wallace
  185. Jack Warhop
  186. Buck Weaver
  187. Zack Wheat
  188. Doc White
  189. Dewey Wilie
  190. Bob Williams
  191. Art Wilson
  192. Owen Wilson
  193. Hooks Wiltse
  194. Ivy Wingo
  195. Harry Wolverton
  196. Smoky Joe Wood
  197. Gene Woodburn
  198. Ralph Works
  199. Steve Yerkes
  200. Rollie Zeider

Error/Variation Additions for Master Set

201. Jimmy Austin (with ‘StL’ on shirt)
202. Tom Clarke (with ‘C’ emblem on sleeve)
203. Ray Fisher (with dark cap)
204. Irving Lewis (with patch)
205. Paddy Livingston (“A” on shirt)
206. Paddy Livingston (Large “C” on shirt)
207. George Mullin (no “D” on cap)

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