One of the things that makes the T206 set unique is its large number of different back advertisements. The backs varied and were an indicator of which tobacco brand the card was packaged with as well as what factory it was distributed from.
Those backs come in an assortment of designs and colors and are a key part of how people collect at set. For example, some collectors strive for player back runs – that is, collecting a particular player’s cards with all of the known back advertisements for said player. Others take on more ambitious challenges, such as trying to collect all of the known cards for a particular back. Not all cards are known with all backs so trying to keep up with which card front can be found with a particular back can be difficult. Making matters worse is that new discoveries of front/back combinations are still being made.
The same thing happens in T205, too, though it’s certainly to a lesser extent. T206 cards are just collected more in general than T205 cards, for one thing. For another, you just don’t typically hear of nearly as many T205 collectors being concerned with various backs as you do with T206.
All of that said, the T205 backs are numerous and, as is the case, premiums are certainly paid for cards with rare backs like Drum, Broadleaf, and Hindu.
Here’s a look at the various T205 backs.
T205 Back Brands
In all, there are 11 different T205 back brands:
- American Beauty
- Honest Long Cut
- Polar Bear
- Sweet Caporal
If you’re a T206 collector, you’ll immediately recognize most of those names. All of these brands were advertisers in T206 with the exception of Hassan and Honest Long Cut. And even though those brands aren’t in T206, chances are you may have heard of them, anyway, as they were advertisers of other sets, such as the T202 Hassan Triple Folders set and the much rarer T100 Honest Silhouettes set.
One note should be made on the Polar Bear cards as well. As was the case in T206, these cards were packaged with loose tobacco instead of cigarette packages. As a result, they often will be found with tobacco stains on the backs.
Overall, I’m not too enamored with the T205 back advertisements. Unlike T206, the backs all generally have the same look and that just doesn’t make them nearly as attractive. But part of that is based on what T205 did with the rest of the card.
Unlike T206, these cards included both biographies and, on most cards, statistics. They are cited as either the first or among the first to do that. The biography and stats ate up about 2/3 of the card, leaving very little for innovation with advertisements. The ads, as a result, were thrown into a small box at the bottom. The brands did have different fonts but they were confined to that small box so all of the backs sort of have the same general look.
I’m not real crazy about it personally but it was a sacrifice that was made in presenting a more informative overall card with the biography/statistical information. When you consider that, it’s easier to understand the bland nature of the ads themselves.
While there are 11 different advertisers in the set, though, there are actually several more backs if you consider all of the variations.
First, American Beauty and Broadleaf are printed in both green and black ink. Similarly, Sweet Caporal backs are either red or black. Those color variations push us up to 14 different backs.
Factory variances give us a few more. Hassan cards were printed both at Factory 30 and Factory 649, and state as much in small font at the bottom of the cards. Piedmont cards, as they were in T206, were printed from Factory 25 and Factory 42. And also similar to T206, Factory 42 cards command a premium as fewer were printed from that facility. Finally, Sweet Caporal cards were printed at both Factory 25 and Factory 42. Factory 25 cards were printed only in black ink while Factory 42 cards are found in both red and black ink. While Factory 42 cards command a significant premium for Piedmont cards over Factory 25, that is not the case with the Sweet Caporal cards. Factory 42 and Factory 25 are about equally as common.
Add everything all up and you have 17 possible backs. Here’s the full list with variations:
- American Beauty Black
- American Beauty Green
- Broadleaf Black
- Broadleaf Green
- Hassan Factory 30
- Hassan Factory 649
- Honest Long Cut
- Piedmont Factory 25
- Piedmont Factory 42
- Polar Bear
- Sweet Caporal Black Factory 25
- Sweet Caporal Black Factory 42
- Sweet Caporal Red Factory 42
Later in a separate article, I’m going to try to discuss the rarity of these backs.