The T206 set is widely known for its ‘Big 4’ in terms of the rarest cards in the set. Led by the Honus Wagner card, these four cards (Wagner, Joe Doyle N.Y. Nat’l, Sherry Magie error, and Eddie Plank) are often out of the reach of collectors in terms of price.
Beyond those, there are another five cards, which are known to be tough. That includes the St. Louis versions of the Bill O’Hara and Ray Demmitt cards as well as the Bill Dahlen Brooklyn and Kid Elberfeld Washington portraits, which are rarer than their Boston and New York counterparts, respectively, as are the George Brown Washington cards compared to his more plentiful Chicago versions.
Continuing down the line are some other known tough commons. There are the John Titus cards, which were difficult to find for some time due to at least one collector hoarding copies of them. Same with the Barney Pelty horizontal cards.
However, the set also has several cards that appear to be a little tougher to find compared to other commons and under the radar a bit – at least based on the PSA population reports. Some of the rarity for these cards will be known to T206 veterans but a few others might surprise you.
Here are some.
Red Ames Hands at Chest
This appears to be the toughest of the three Ames cards and it really isn’t all that close, either. To date, PSA has graded nearly 400 of Ames’ portrait and more than 400 of his hands over head cards. But only a little more than 250 of his hands at chest version have been graded so far.
If you’ve got a chance to add one of the three, that seems like his toughest one by a wide margin.
Adkins’ cards have slowly gotten a bit more on the radar of collectors and they are being recognized more as a tougher common. Again, we’re not talking ultra rare here. But compared to other commons in the set, it is a little harder to find.
So far PSA has barely graded 300 of them.
Al Burch Batting
The Burch batting card has been known for some time but has sort of slipped from the radar.
Previously, it had been cited in price guides as being more expensive than most commons. But these days, it barely draws notice. That is somewhat confusing because the card is certainly more difficult to find.
Only a few more than 300 have been graded, compared to the 400+ of his much more plentiful fielding cards. It’s not only significantly tougher than his fielding variation but it’s also a great shot in the set.
Wid Conroy Fielding
Conroy has two cards in the set, a batting and a fielding pose. But his fielding card is the more desirable one.
While more than 425 of his batting variation have been graded, barely more than 300 of the field card have been graded.
Mike Donlin Fielding
Mike Donlin has three cards in the T206 set. His variations have also been a little confusing as well.
One of Donlin’s cards, a version with him seated, has commanded more money in the past. Price guides have even at times listed this as the most expensive version. But it’s Donlin’s fielding card that is significantly rarer.
PSA has graded a little more than 400 of the seated version and nearly 450 of his batting pose. But Donlin’s fielding variation appears to be the rarest of the group as PSA has barely graded 300.
Red Kleinow Catching … New York
To T206 veterans, seeing a Red Kleinow catching card on this list won’t be too surprising. But the specific variation is likely to be.
In addition to Kleinow’s card depicting him as a batter, he has two variations of him as a catcher. The pictures are the same but one has him listed as a player for Boston while the other is New York.
The Boston variation has always been considered the more valuable one. But I was surprised to see that PSA has actually graded a good number more of the Boston cards. As of the time of this writing, there were not even 300 New York cards graded to the more than 350 Boston cards graded. Now, as I’ve said before – population reports aren’t always a great indicator of rarity. Collectors typically are more likely to grade a star card than they are a common.
So as a second indicator, I decided to check out eBay to see what was available. I was surprised to see that there were double the amount of Boston cards for sale as there were of the New York variation.
The catching version of the New York card seems pretty underappreciated.
Simon Nicholls Batting
Nicholls has two cards in the set – one with his hands on his knees and a second with him in a batting pose. Because Nicholls is such a minor player, it’s difficult to tell if his card is simply not graded for that reason. But whatever the case, his batting card has been one of the fewest graded commons in the entire set.
To date, Nicholls’ batting card has not even been graded 275 times. Now, while he is not a highly desirable player, his cards have been graded far below the average even compared to other commons. The fact that the card appears to be a little rarer is also clear when you compare this card to his other variation, which has been graded about 100 more times.
Puttman’s card is another one well known to T206 veterans. It’s often cited as a very tough common. But while it is a little difficult, it seems to be not quite as rare as the population reports indicate. This could be another case of a single collector hoarding the cards to get fewer of them on the market.
A little more than 300 Puttman cards have been graded by PSA. That’s certainly few enough to make it one of the tougher commons. But it also has quite a bit of company with several other cards (both mentioned here and not mentioned here) boasting similar numbers.
Bob Rhoades Arm Extended
Rhoades is seen in the set twice. One version has his hands at his chest while a second has one arm extended. It’s the latter that is the more desirable card.
While difficult to sometimes gauge the rarity of lesser known players, comparing the cards of those players in the population reports can often be a good indication. While Rhoades’ hands at chest version has been graded more than 400 times, his card featuring his extended arm has been graded with much less frequency. To date, only about 275 have been graded.
Frank Smith … Either White Cap
Similar to the Kleinow cards, I was a little surprised to see the results of the PSA population report on the Frank Smith white cap cards.
In addition to a dark cap variation, Frank Smith has two close-up cards featuring him with a white cap. One version merely states he plays for Chicago while the second says Chicago and Boston. This was different from other cards in the set since, when a player moved to a new team, a card with his new team name was simply printed. The Chicago and Boston version has both of the teams for which he suited up in 1910 after going to Boston during that season.
The Chicago and Boston version is generally more expensive but has actually been seen more often by PSA with nearly 275 cards graded. The Chicago version, meanwhile, has been graded slightly less. At well under 300 graded, both cards are actually somewhat difficult finds, even though they seem to be on eBay quite a bit.
Smith’s dark cap card is not in the equation with more than 400 being graded.