Were Untimely Deaths the Cause for Two T227 Rarities?
A pair of cards in the T227 set are abnormally difficult to find — but why?
The T227 Champions set features champion athletes across a variety of sports. All of the cards are pretty tough to find but two in particular are nearly impossible.
Included in the set are cards for aviator C.P. Rodgers and auto racing star Bruce Brown. To date, PSA has graded a grand total of only three of each card. On the rare occasion they go on sale, they fetch quite a bit of money. REA, for example, auctioned a Rodgers that sold for $3,600 back in 2016.
To this date, collectors really have no idea why the cards of Rodgers and Brown were shortprinted. One popular theory that has been floated is that their cards could have been shortprinted because of their untimely deaths. In that scenario, they would have been initially printed but yanked as production continued soon afterward. But that seems unlikely to me and I’ll explain why.
Rodgers died in an exhibition in April 1912 while Brown died in October of that same year during a practice run. Rodgers’ bio on the back of his card mentions his death but Brown’s does not. That tells us that the printer already knew of Rodgers’ death before the cards were issued. Thus, pulling them from production after his death doesn’t make any sense. If Rodgers’ death was the reason they wanted to exclude him from the set, they could have simply avoided issuing them altogether.
Now, I will admit that it seems like a coincidence that the two shortprinted cards were for athletes that died in the year of production. After all, it is possible that the issuer had a change of heart after the later death of Brown and decided their two cards should be pulled.
But if their deaths were not the reason, what could it be? That remains unknown.
One possibility, I suppose, is that they were merely intended to be chase cards to make completing a set difficult. That, as we have seen in numerous sets, was a common practice — particularly in cases where a redemption offer for a price was given for completing a set. But why Rodgers and Brown would have been chosen under those circumstances is still anybody’s guess.