Duplication, Rarity Make T202 Set a Tough One to Complete
Repeated cards for baseball’s biggest stars make the Hassan Triple Folders set difficult to complete
While many collectors flock to the T205 and T206 tobacco card sets, many other American tobacco issues are in increasing demand, too. One of those is the T202 Hassan Triple Folders set.
At first glance, the set might not seem too hard to crack. Its 132 cards are significantly less than what is found in many tobacco sets. And if fewer people are collecting them, that’s usually a pretty good sign, right?
Fact is, the set is not an easy one to build.
One hurdle is its rarity. The cards aren’t scarce by any means but population reports give us an idea of how tough they can be compared to more popular sets. To date, PSA has graded only about 11,000 of them — far less than the whopping 237,000+ T206 cards or the nearly 40,000 T205 cards PSA has slabbed. They aren’t quite as rare as the much tougher T207 cards but they are somewhat tough compared to the uber popular sets.
The availability of the cards is also somewhat hurt by the fact that many have been separated over the years. The cards contained a total of three panels — two end cards resembling the T205 series and a middle black and white panel. Many of these were separated to create three cards instead of one and, much like the 1980-81 Topps basketball cards, that has taken a lot of the intact ones out of the population.
Rarity is just one part of the puzzle, though. Another hurdle for set collectors is the sheer number of major stars. Now, most sets have stars so that’s not uncommon. But what is unique about T202 is that they can appear so many times on different cards.
Ty Cobb’s cards are generally the most expensive ones in the set. Cobb appears on a whopping six cards. Christy Mathewson, another expensive one, is on eight different cards. Two Walter Johnson cards doesn’t help and that’s before we even get to other notables like Tris Speaker, who is on five cards, or even the newly-discovered Joe Jackson card. Between those five players, we’ve already got 22 cards and none of them are combined on any one card. Those are 22 entirely different cards and you don’t need me to tell you, well, that’s a lot of money.
Those names, too, are just a drop in the bucket. The set includes plenty more Hall of Famers that don’t necessarily come cheap. For example, Frank Chance is found on a whopping seven cards.
Now, it should be pointed out that collectors do get somewhat of a respite as some of those cards feature the player only in the middle action panel. And those cards typically go for less than when they appear as a color ‘card’ on the end. Still, you’re talking about an awful lot of big names and a good amount of money to build a set.
If you’re intent on building a set, another option is to go for the scaled back version. If you consider only the middle panel as one constituting a different card, there would be 76 in the set. Old Cardboard does a great job with their checklist detailing that here. Few would consider that to be a true set, mind you. But it is a way to build a version of it at a much more reasonable cost.
So how much is the full version? As always, that depends on condition. But you rarely see a complete set and putting a definitive price on one is tough. But to give you an idea, REA sold a nearly complete one (missing only one Mathewson card) in lower-mid grade condition ten years ago for about $20,000. And obviously, prices have gone up considerably since then.