Short, Quirky T201 Mecca Double Folders Issue is One Affordable Tobacco Set
If you’re looking for an affordable tobacco card set, T201 is probably your best bet
I’m commonly asked for cheap sets that collectors can start and, simply put, tobacco sets usually aren’t high on those lists. A while back, I mentioned several pre-war sets that were among the easiest to complete and only one tobacco set made its way onto the list. Even in that case (the T51 Murad set) the cards did not feature real players and it was a multi-sport issue.
But when it comes to finding affordable baseball-only tobacco sets with real players, that’s not an easy task — particularly these days when tobacco cards have shot through the roof in value. But if there’s one that fits the affordability label, it’s the T201 Mecca Double Folders set.
If you’re unfamiliar with the set, these cards look a little different than your traditional baseball cards. They are long and narrow with a player on each side. The unique thing about them is that both utilize the same lower portion/legs while the top flips down on one side to display the top of the second player on the back. If that sounds confusing, don’t let it be. Here’s a better description of how they work.
Issued in 1911, I’m not aware of a more affordable tobacco baseball set. Two things, in particular, make this an easy and cheap one to assemble.
First, there are no insanely high-dollar cards. Recently, I was looking for a way to spend my eBay Bucks and settled on this nice lower mid-grade T201 card of Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford. Now, typically, trying to buy a mid-grade Cobb tobacco card is not a great way to make your bank account happy. Almost always, that’s going to easily cost you over a thousand dollars. But I got this one for well under $500 — and that was even before the eBay Bucks. You can get low-grade ones even cheaper and I’ve seen some of those go for under $300.
The good news? That’s the most expensive card in the entire set.
Now, $300 is nothing to sneeze at — I get it. But most baseball-only pre-war tobacco sets will have cards in them that are significantly more than that. That’s a blip on the radar screen compared to things like a green background T206 Cobb in that grade.
The second thing to note here is that the set contains a total of only 50 cards. From a cost standpoint, the set is not only affordable because there are so few cards in the set but also because those cards are generally pretty cheap.
Let me be a little clearer. The set does have its fair share of Hall of Famers but roughly 3/5 of the cards here are commons. And those commons, by the way, start at around $10-$15 in low-grade condition. Even better ones can usually be had for only about $20.
And while the Hall of Famers are more, they are generally going to be cheaper than other tobacco issues. Cards featuring Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson will usually start around $100-$150 in low-grade condition but all others will typically be below that. Many low-grade Hall of Famers will be $50 or less.
When you add it all up, you get an entirely reasonable tobacco card set at a low price — and that’s hard to find.