50 Fast Facts from the T206 Set

The T206 baseball card set is arguably the most famous set in history. Here are 50 fast facts about the landmark set.

  1. Piedmont T206 BackThe cards were printed over a period of three years, starting in 1909 and running through 1911
  2. The set received its name from Jefferson Burdick, author of the American Card Catalog. ‘T’ in the T206 name stood for 20th century tobacco issues while ‘206’ was simply a number assigned to it.
  3. The set is commonly referred to as the ‘White Border’ set.
  4. It is also nicknamed as ‘The Monster’ due to its large size
  5. Significantly smaller than today’s baseball cards, the cards measure approximately 1 7/16″ wide by 2 5/8″ tall
  6. While the size is somewhat consistent, the exact dimensions can vary slightly
  7. Some collectors assume the name and team printed at the bottom of the cards is in black ink but it is actually dark brown
  8. T206 cards were often glued into scrapbooks or affixed to other surfaces and, as a result, they are often found with paper loss on them from when they were removed
  9. Pictures on the cards were color lithographs of players
  10. Many of the images used were also used in other baseball card sets
  11. The cards were issued by the American Tobacco Company (ATC) for their brands, which have tobacco advertisements on the back
  12. A total of 15 different brands were used on the backs (American Beauty, Broadleaf, Carolina Brights, Cycle, Drum, El Principle de Gales, Hindu, Lenox, Old Mill, Piedmont, Polar Bear, Sovereign, Sweet Caporal, Tolstoi, and Uzit) …
  13. … but there are nearly 40 different backs with several of those brands having more than one variation
  14. While some of the backs represent different brands, the layout for some was shared by more than one brand (i.e. Broadleaf and Drum)
  15. Some of the backs are rarer (and more valuable) than others – this thread includes a ranking of them by scarcity
  16. In general, Piedmont and Sweet Caporal backs are the easiest to find
  17. The T206 set is home to the most famous and expensive baseball card of all time – the Honus Wagner T206
  18. Honus Wagner T206Pound for pound, the Wagner is the most expensive card in the world with one selling for $3.1 million
  19. The cards have steadily increased in value over the years
  20. The Wagner T206 was shortprinted as it was pulled from production early
  21. Besides the Wagner, there are three other rare and valuable shortprints and the group makes up what is called ‘The Big Four’
  22. In addition to the Big Four, the set has two other tough rarities – St. Louis versions of Bill O’Hara and Ray Demmitt
  23. A total of 524 cards are in the set but that number can be up for debate
  24. And because most cards have more than one advertising back, the number for a master set would be in the thousands
  25. Most T206 cards were distributed in packages of cigarettes but some were in packages of Polar Bear scrap tobacco (those often have tobacco stains and residue on them)
  26. The cards were mass produced and, despite being more than 100 years old, most are relatively easy to find
  27. Low-grade commons can be bought for as little as about $15-$25
  28. In high-grade, the cards can be quite valuable – a near set sold for more than $8 million
  29. Several unissued proof cards are known to exist
  30. Many players have more than one card in the set and Hal Chase has the most cards (five)
  31. The most popular/valuable cards, beyond the shortprinted ones, are generally the four cards of Ty Cobb
  32. T206 095 CobbOf the four Cobb cards, his green background portrait card is the most sought after
  33. In general, cards featuring portraits of players are more desirable than the cards featuring action shots
  34. More than 75 cards in all feature Hall of Famers
  35. In addition to professional major leaguers, the set includes minor league players and players from the Southern Leagues
  36. Southern League cards feature mostly lesser known players but command more money than regular commons because of their rarity
  37. Only one player is featured with a mustache in the set – John Titus
  38. Cards have been found with an assortment of print errors – often, the crazier the error, the more valuable the card
  39. According to Scot Reader’s book ‘Inside T206,’ it is estimated that approximately 370 million T206 cards were produced
  40. Reader also estimates that approximately 3.2 million T206 cards exist today
  41. More than 300,000 T206 cards have been graded by the three main grading entities, PSA, SGC, and Beckett
  42. While the T206 cards are the most popular, the ATC’s T205 and T207 sets are significantly rarer
  43. The T206 set, and other tobacco cards, were often viewed as evil, encouraging gambling and tobacco use among children
  44. Cards have been heavily reprinted and even reprints of the more popular cards like Honus Wagner and Ty Cobb can sell for $10 or more
  45. Many collectors believe that some cards, such as the T213-1 Coupon cards, should also be considered T206s
  46. A Ty Cobb card with a Ty Cobb tobacco back is sometimes viewed as a T206 card, too
  47. Collectors should be on the lookout for forged cards — particularly those of Wagner, the Big Four, or Cobb cards
  48. Autographed T206 cards do exist but a large discovery of faked ones was made in 2018
  49. Some cards have been hoarded by collectors (i.e. Shag Shaughnessy and John Titus), making their cards a little harder to find
  50. With more than 50 cards, the New York Giants are the most represented team in the set

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