1912 Cohen Weenen Gray Backs an Ultra Rare Variation

While three back types are typically reported for the rare boxing set, there are actually four

Boxing 1912 Cohen Weenen Georges CarpentierThe 1912 Cohen Weenen set is a rare boxing issue from the UK. While it includes only 25 cards, it’s not the easiest set in the world to complete. The set is headlined by two cards from the legendary Jack Johnson and two rookie cards of Hall of Famer Georges Carpentier.

A master set is even more difficult to complete and while most collectors are only aware of three back types, there are actually four.

Most collectors of this set know of black backs, green backs, and backs without the Cohen Weenen name. But many would be surprised to know that the set comes with gray backs as well. And that is understandable because, as we’ll see soon, the gray backs are by far the rarest of the group.

Some collectors may look at the gray backs and be inclined to think they are merely faded versions of the black backs. But that isn’t the case as I’ve seen a few of these up close and they are not faded.

Further, PSA designates the backs when they grade the cards and they give us an idea of just how rare the gray backs are.

Shown below are the three Cohen Weenen backs. The back without the Cohen Weenen name is not presented but it is not important in this context. From left to right, we’ve got examples of a green back, gray back, and black back.

1912 Cohen Weenen Backs

Breakdown of the Backs

Just how rare are the cards? To date, PSA has graded just over 450 cards. In all, only two of those have been gray backs. Here’s a rundown of the quantities of backs they have graded.

  • Black Backs – 90
  • Gray Backs – 2
  • Green Backs – 314
  • Without Name – 59

The green backs are clearly the most common with the black backs and backs without the Cohen Weenen name significantly rarer. But the gray backs are easily the toughest. That correlates with my own collection as I have a few dozen cards but only two gray backs.

Now, are the gray backs as rare as those numbers suggest? It is possible that some have been mislabled, I suppose. And I also can’t say if PSA grading them is a new thing. For example, they may have been grading them all along as black backs until only recently. But I’ve hardly ever seen them on eBay and there is little doubt that the gray-backed cards are extremely rare.

The next question is, how does that correlate to value?

The set is known by many boxing collectors but also not terribly collected by others. And because many collectors aren’t even aware of the gray backs, I don’t think significant premiums exist yet for them. That is true with the other backs, too. I don’t see much of a premium offered for, say, cards with black backs than the green backs, even though the green ones are much more common.

However, as shown here, the gray backs definitely deserve to command much higher prices than the regular cards.

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