25 Fast Facts About the T205 Set

25 things to know about one of the most popular tobacco card sets

A while back, I put together a list of 50 facts from the popular T206 set. I figured I’d try my hand at doing the same for another well-known set in the T205 issue.

  1. Despite being classified as T205, the 1911 set was actually produced after the earlier 1909-11 T206 cards.
  2. The set received its name from Jefferson Burdick, author of the American Card Catalog. ‘T’ in the T205 name stood for 20th century tobacco issues while ‘205’ was simply a number assigned to it.
  3. The set doesn’t have a formal name other than T205, but it’s often called the gold borders set because of its, um, gold-colored borders. While the borders are supposed to be gold, ink levels are possibly behind some being green.
  4. Because of the gold borders that expose even minor damage/wear, it is difficult to find these cards in high-grade condition.
  5. The cards are generally around 1 7/16″ wide by 2 5/8″ tall but the exact dimensions can vary slightly.
  6. Raw, ungraded commons in the set start at around $15-$20 in low-grade condition.
  7. Cards were mostly distributed with cigarettes but some were issued with Polar Bear scrap tobacco (Polar Bear cards often have stains on them).
  8. Cigarette brands with advertisements found on the back included Hassan, Sweet Caporal, Drum, Hindu, Piedmont, Cycle, Sovereign, Broad Leaf, Honest, and American Beauty. In general, Drum, Hindu, Broad Leaf, and Cycle are the rarer brands and cards with those backs sell for a premium.
  9. American League players are pictured with a baseball diamond in the background while the diamond is missing from cards of National Leaguers.
  10. National Leaguers have handwritten names while the American Leaguers do not.
  11. 208 cards are in the base set but many error cards are needed for the master set.
  12. Some minor print errors are still being discovered today, such as this one I recently noticed on John Titus’ card.
  13. One error is found on some of Christy Mathewson’s cards (particularly those with the Cycle advertisements on the back), stating he had only one loss in 1908 instead of 11.
  14. The rarest, most expensive card in the entire set is generally the one for Dick Hoblitzell, which was printed without his statistics on the back. Coincidentally, Hoblitzell has four cards in the set (one main card with the others having some sort of error).
  15. With 208 basic cards, the set is less than half the size of the massive T206 set.
  16. The T205 cards are much rarer than the more popular T206 set.
  17. With 24 cards, the New York Giants have the most players in the set.
  18. Of the major league teams, the Cleveland Naps have the fewest cards in the set (six).
  19. Backs of the cards mention 400 designs, leading some to believe that the rest of the set should include other non-baseball cards.
  20. The set was issued after the death of pitcher Addie Joss and his card serves as a memorial tribute.
  21. Some players have more than one variation in the set.
  22. Of the basic cards, the Ty Cobb is generally the most expensive. But including the errors, others can cost more.
  23. Most of the cards feature major league players but a dozen minor leaguers are in it (with a different design).
  24. The most desirable minor league card is that of Hall of Famer Jimmy Collins, who is actually featured after his major league career.
  25. The set is one of the first baseball card issues (possibly the first) to include both statistics and biographies on the backs.

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