World’s Largest T206 Collection? 5,000+ Cards to Enter Marketplace

A rather large collection of T206 cards is headed to the auction block … but how will it impact the hobby?

T206 Cobb Green

David Hall, founder of Collector’s Universe, has been collecting T206 cards for a long time. Most notably, Hall almost certainly has the largest master collection of the set as he strove to find every front/back combination that he could.

Every collector reaches an end and Hall has reached his, it seems. His collection includes more than 5,000 T206 cards and will be split up and auctioned by Heritage.

Releasing 5,000 cards all into the marketplace at once would be too much. So the cards will be released over time. According to that linked Sports Collectors Daily article, the first part of the collection alone will be released in three separate auctions later this year.

Hall’s collection includes some of the bigger cards, too, such as a Honus Wagner, Eddie Plank, and, if you consider it a true T206, a Ty Cobb card with the rare Cobb advertisement on the back.

The auction is expected to raise millions of dollars and the sale is fascinating. I certainly don’t want to downplay the significance of the legendary collection being split up. But the more interesting part to me is, what kind of impact, if any, will this have on T206 values?

As I’ve said plenty of times, T206 cards aren’t exactly rare. They are much more common than other American Tobacco Company sets like T205 and T207, and are pretty easy to find by comparison with other pre-war issues. There are more than 10,000 at any given time on eBay. Even dealers with a modern focus are known to have a few stashed away.

Mathewson T206 Dark CapSo, how will an already populated market react to more than 5,000 cards being introduced? I mean, we can’t say for sure but my guess is that the impact will be somewhat minimal.

See, if this was a rarer set, the impact would be greater. Adding, say, 5,000 T207s to an market would drastically alter the landscape. After all, PSA and SGC combined have only graded about 9,000 total cards. But more than 300,000 T206 cards have been graded and there are plenty more that are raw. In Scot Reader’s Inside T206 book, he estimates that more than three million T206 cards exist.

Now, that three million figure isn’t the number on the open market, obviously. Plenty of collectors have complete sets or large collections with no intention to sell right now. But you get the point. Let’s cut that list pretty aggressively — say, by 2/3. Even if we say that a million cards are out there, 5,000 is still only 1/2 of 1%.

Plus, given the fact that these are all being spread out over time, that lessens the impact even more.

I would never say that T206 prices will always continue to increase or even hold steady. Frankly, it’s a pretty populated set and I think that prices are bound to come down at some point. But the releasing of this many cards into the market shouldn’t really have any impact on that simply because there are so many out there.

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