Green-Bordered Cards are a Unique Find in the T205 Set

A rare variation of green border T205 cards is often a source of confusion

The T205 set is known for its dramatic artwork and, just as importantly, its gold-bordered cards. The set is even commonly called the T205 gold borders (or some variant thereof) just as the T206 cards are called the white borders cards and the T207 cards are called the brown background cards. Those color descriptions help collectors that might not be familiar with the T-Card designations for them.

But a unique type of T205 cards is known. The set is already known for its numerous variations and print errors, but one type that is less frequently discussed are the cards which have green borders instead of gold.

First things first. Green-bordered cards are totally legit. A better way of saying it is that you shouldn’t be scared off by seeing a T205 with a green border instead of the customary gold border. Sure, you can find T205s out there that are fakes with all sorts of border colors. The point here is that seeing a card with a green border does not mean it is not authentic. To the contrary, they are just as legit as the gold border cards.

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T205 cards also aren’t the only ones to exhibit that kind of variation in the borders. The T210 Old Mill red-bordered cards are sometimes found with orange or yellowish borders instead. But the green border cards are unique and much rarer than the regular gold border versions. How rare are they? I have approximately 225 or so T205 cards and less than ten have a green border.

So what do the cards look like? Well, before we get to the purely green cards, let’s have a look at a gold border and a partially green one.

To the left here is a regular T205 card with the standard gold borders. This is a cleaner one and you will find them in various types of condition, obviously. But the card on the left is how the cards were intended to look. You’ve got a clean, distinctive gold-colored border.

The card on the right is something you might come across as well. This is a cross between the gold and the green. If you look at these cards, they’ll have some gold and some green. Particularly at the top, you can see a mix of the two colors. It almost looks either like a card that had gold borders that are fading away to a green border or vice versa.

With that out of the way, let’s look at a more traditional green-bordered T205.

T205 Green Border Comparison

The amount of green in the borders of these can and does vary quite a bit. But for the most part, they are easy to see when you compare them against a regular gold-bordered card.

Sometimes, you may have a card with a darker gold border that just appears to be dirty or worn. Those can be tough to tell if you don’t have anything to compare against. But looking at it side by side with a gold border card should make it clearer.

t205 gold vs. green border

Shown here are two cards of Lefty Leifield of the Pittsburgh Pirates. These, coincidentally, are actually his two signature variations — one is A. Leifield and the other is A.P. Leifield. But that isn’t important for the discussion here. Mine just so happen to show the two color variations in the borders pretty well.

The card on the left is clearly a standard gold-bordered card. On the right, we’ve got an obvious green border. If you look closely, you can see some traces of gold. But it isn’t the mixture like the Delahanty above and this one is predominantly green.

The obvious question most have is where did the green borders come from? Like many pre-war mysteries, opinions vary. Some will say the cards are a result of a printing error. Others will say the cards are the result of the gold foil color wearing away. Still others will have other theories.

My personal belief is that it is a printing error with an issue in the ink levels and I’ll explain why.

It is difficult to see in the picture here of the two Leifield cards but blowing them both up on my large screen, it was much easier to see. You can get a better idea of what I’m talking about by looking at the large picture at the top of this article. The ink on the green-bordered card doesn’t just vary on the border. Rather, the ink varies on the entire card.

Leifield’s hair color, for one, is significantly different. In the gold-bordered card it is much more brown. On the green-bordered card, it is more of a black. Look, too, at the Pirate logo in the upper left hand corner of the two cards. On the gold-bordered card it is brown. However, on the green-bordered card, it is black. Other parts of the green-bordered card, including the brim of Leifield’s hat and collar are darker, too. Even the dots to the left and right of his neck area in the background are darker.

I’m not sure what color(s) is/are lacking from the print cycle here but to me it looks like the ink levels of the various colors were not consistent. If I had to guess, I’d say that’s what caused the border variation.

Keep in mind that printing processes on pre-war cards were not usually perfect (and sometimes, not even good). Many cards were sometimes printed before ink levels were adjusted and more significant variances than this are seen pretty commonly.

It’s possible something else could be at play here and this is just one man’s (possibly misguided) opinion. But given how the rest of the picture varies in color, it seems difficult to suggest that the green border was merely caused from the gold border wearing away. It looks like it was printed that way.

So what about these cards in terms of value? Is there any difference there? Not really. Collectors that are particularly enamored with the green border cards may pay a little more for them. And, conversely, ones with a golden border may be desired by some. But, despite the fact that the green ones are significantly rarer, there isn’t much demand for them — at least not to the point where people will pay much more on average for them. If a seller is trying to convince you to pay significantly more for one because it’s green, I’d probably take a hard pass.

For now, they remain just one of the odd quirks found in the T205 set.

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