The T205 Equivalent of the T206 Big Four
We all know about the T206’s Big Four — but what about a Big Four for the T205 set?
The cards that comprise the Big Four found in the famous T206 baseball card set are among the most popular and well-known cards in the pre-war era. But while the T205 set can’t match up to those cards, you can make a case for their own Big Four.
Here are my thoughts on a Big Four for the T205 release.
Hoblitzell No Stats
While Dick Hoblitzell was only intended to have one card in the T205 set, he wound up with a total of four thanks to some errors.
One version has an abbreviated mention of his Cincinnati team after his 1908 statistics on the back while another does not. A third also does not but misspells his name as ‘Hoblitzel.’
Hoblitzell’s fourth card, however, is the toughest to find.
That version does not include any statistics at all on the back side. To date, PSA has graded only 34 of them and they always sell for big money.
Of the T205 Big Four cards I’m about to name, this is the only one that is, pound for pound, really on par with any of the T206’s Big Four since these cards are probably somewhat similar in price to the T206 Magie error cards (the least expensive of the T206 Big Four cards).
A PSA 2 (MC) sold for just over $8,100 earlier this year. Even in low-grade condition, today it is considered a five-figure card to start.
Mathewson One Loss
Like Hoblitzell, Christy Mathewson, was only intended to be featured once in the T205 set. But an error on one of his branded cards has given him a second version.
Most T205 cards of the Hall of Famer indicate that he lost a total of 11 games in 1908. That is the correct version as he was 37-11 that season. However, Mathewson’s Cycle-backed cards incorrectly state that he lost only one game that year.
The error is a tough one to find because, well, Cycle cards are tough ones to find. They aren’t impossible but much tougher than other common backs like Piedmont, Sweet Caporal, Sovereign, or Polar Bear. What should be noted here is that all Cycle Mathewson cards indicate he lost only one game, so the brand never had corrected cards made.
Some debate if this card should be necessary for a complete set as it is only an error and not a true variation. But in any event, it’s a valuable card and Mathewson’s big name certainly helps that.
To date, PSA has graded only 23 of the cards and even low-grade ones usually start at over $2,000.
Our third card here is another error. Sensing a theme?
This error is found on the back of cards of Irvin Wilhelm. Wilhelm is the least heralded player on this list. With a 56-105 career record, he was hardly a star.
Most of Wilhelm’s cards include a typographical error with the word ‘suffered’ in his biography typed as ‘suffeed.’ But the card was later corrected with some cards being changed to read ‘suffered.’
Those corrected versions are much rarer than the error. That tells us that the corrected cards were likely not printed until fairly late in the overall printing.
Don’t sleep on the error cards. The fact is that both of Wilhelm’s cards are pretty tough to find, actually. Even the more common error card can sell for $150-$300 in low-grade condition. But the corrected version is worth much more.
Usually, low-grade corrected cards start over $1,000.
The first three cards on this list are pretty much etched in stone with little real argument, at least in terms of value. The fourth, however, is where you could have some differences of opinion.
There’s the famous Dolly Gray card that correctly has his stats shown (vs. an error with the stats missing). Then there’s the Pat Moran card with a stray line of text. There’s also a corrected card of Hall of Famer Bobby Wallace that has only one line of 1910 statistics. All three are pretty tough cards.
Getting away from actual errors, there are some intriguing cards, too. Most notably, perhaps, is a tribute card for pitcher Addie Joss, who had recently died.
But my pick here goes to a good ol’ Ty Cobb card.
Unlike T206 where Cobb was featured four times, he’s in the T205 set only once. And, like other Cobb cards, his T205 issues have risen steadily in value. Even in low-grade, you can expect to pay at least $1,500 as a starting point most of the time.
I’m more intrigued by other cards in the set. In particular, the Joss is probably my favorite (or second behind Matty) T205 card and the Moran stray line variation is one of the more unique error cards you’ll see. But the Cobb card is so popular and valuable that it’s very tough to leave off this list.