A rare and relatively new discovery of a T206 print variation is catching on with pre-war collectors
Back in 2015, a new T206 print variation turned heads in REA’s fall auction. Not widely reported, a BVG 5 of an odd-looking Jeff Pfeffer T206 quietly card sold for an impressive $2,700. Typically, the card in that condition would have sold for about $100 and been nowhere near an REA auction that typically highlights impressive collectibles. This card, however, was different.
After that sale, most expected a floodgate of these as unsuspecting collectors would be digging through their T206 cards and finding them. But then a funny thing happened. No such mass exodus of these was released into the marketplace. A few have shown up here and there but there is little doubt there are not many of them around.
The card was brought into the public eye by collector/dealer Ed Hans. Pfeffer played for the Chicago Cubs at the time of the card’s release. But in looking through a T206 collection he had acquired, Hans noticed that the ‘Chicago’ actually read ‘Chicaco,’ replacing the ‘g’ with what looks like a ‘c’.
A closer look at the card reveals a rare printing error. The actual letter printed on the card is a ‘g’, so it’s not a typo, per se. But an obscured part of the printing plate gives it the impression of it being a ‘c.’ A few others in the T206 set exist as well for different players.
Hans initially discovered the card in 2012 after purchasing the large lot of cards. He would go on to see the variation on others, thus confirming that it was an actual variation of sorts and not simply a random card with a one-time goof.
After discussing the matter with Beckett, they agreed to catalog the card and they now grade it noting that variation on their holders. The card also holds a spot in Beckett’s checklist for the set. Thus far, it is known with Piedmont and Sweet Caporal backs, though, given its rarity, it could certainly appear with others. It is worth noting that, to date, PSA and SGC do not yet recognize the variation on their slab to the best of my knowledge.
Shown here is my own example of the card with a blown up picture of the error at the bottom and then a blown up shot of a corrected version.
Collectors taking notice
T206 is one of the most popular sets collected by pre-war enthusiasts. Other print errors of cards, such as the famous Murr’y variation have sold for thousands of dollars. The Pfeffer, too, is starting to command good money.
In addition to the $2,700 sale by REA, the card has also been sold for nice chunks of change. The T206 Museum catalogs recent auction sales and notes a few other Pfeffers have since been auctioned off. Most recently, REA auctioned a BVG 3 version of the card for $1,080 a few months ago in May. That is up significantly from a BVG 5 card that was for sale (also by REA) that sold for only $600 in October of 2017, seemingly going under the radar.
As a relatively new card with few known sales, the prices have fluctuated, which is what you would expect. But there’s no doubt that the card is drawing significant interest and being tracked by more people.
The cards appear to be quite rare, though it is also worth noting that many collectors simply do not know about them, even after the big 2015 sale. Thus far, Beckett has graded only seven of them and, as mentioned before, PSA and SGC do not grade them with the variation on the slab. But given that dedicated pre-war collectors closely follow REA auctions, that more haven’t been graded is certainly a testament to how few of these there are. Even if the average collector isn’t necessarily aware of the variation, most T206 enthusiasts are.
I’ve actually been tracking the card, looking for them on eBay and such. In probably about 50 or so listings for Pfeffer T206 cards, only one that I saw had the variation. Others surely exist but the population on them appears quite small and similar to things like the more widely known Murr’y card.
Future of the Card
The future of the card is anybody’s guess. T206 print variations are still widely collected, as are other things such as oddities and scraps.
My guess is that the card could fluctuate some more before a market on it is somewhat solidified. With so few examples advertised and sold, it’s going to take a little while to establish a true value for it. But I expect it will always remain in demand as there are a large amount of T206 collectors out there. Even the people not trying to assemble a set could factor in here as there are a lot of team and error collectors of the set.
It may not reach the crazy heights the Murr’y card used to but even in low grade, it is still commanding good money and that should probably continue as long as the set as a whole remains hot.