A Look at Some of Ty Cobb’s Most Popular Cards
Ty Cobb’s birthday is today (December 18) and I thought it fitting to wind through some of his more popular baseball cards.
Cobb cards are quickly getting out of the reach for many collectors as demand has surged for them. But he’s got a really great collection of cards that are available if you’ve got the cash.
Cobb certainly has rarer or more exclusive cards than the ones shown here. But here’s a glimpse at some of his more popular issues.
Cobb’s most popular cards are, by far and away, his T206 cards. In all, he’s got four of them and, as I outlined here, they aren’t all to be treated the same.
The prize among the four is his green background portrait card. It’s both the rarest and, subsequently, the most expensive of the group. These days, it’s tough to find much under $1,500-$2,000.
Bargain hunters looking for one will typically flock to his portrait card with the red background. It’s the easiest of the four to find and that has helped make far more affordable than the green background card.
In addition to those two cards pictured here, Cobb also has two other T206 cards featuring him with a baseball bat.
Cobb’s T205 card, also issued by the same American Tobacco Company outfit that distributed his T206 cards, is high on the list of collectors, too.
It’s not as popular as his T206 cards but one can wonder why that is. The card is an attractive one and significantly rarer. Despite that, it trails his T206 cards in popularity a bit. It is heavily pursued but not in the same way his T206 issues are.
I’m on the record as saying that I believe this is an undervalued card, given the popularity of the T205 set and, more importantly, given the rarity compared with the T206 set. But the card has indeed gotten more expensive and is difficult to find these days much under $1,000 in any condition.
It’s not a cheap card by any means. But compared to some of his pricier stuff, it’s almost a bit of a bargain for such a mainstream tobacco issue.
T3 Turkey Red
Cobb’s T3 Turkey Red card is a bit different. At nearly 6″ wide by 8″ tall, these are essentially photographs instead of traditional baseball cards. But that hasn’t slowed interest from card collectors and Cobb’s T3 Turkey Red card is becoming quite popular.
Helping, certainly, is the fact that it’s a flat out gorgeous card. Everything from the detailed imagery of Cobb, to the sunset background, the baseball stadium, to the nuanced design of the cards themselves is just really impressive.
Like other Cobb cards, prices for these have sort of increased. That’s forced a lot of collectors to settle on lower-grade copies. Even those are getting to be expensive, though.
Even the low-grade Cobb T3 cards generally top $1,000.
1914 and 1915 Cracker Jack
Cobb’s 1914 and 1915 Cracker Jack cards are arguably his most popular candy card issues.
These cards include sort of a double-edged sword in terms of the reason they are not cheap. Not only have Cobb cards increased in value recently but so have the Cracker Jack cards. That has made these doubly expensive and collectors with modest resources are being priced out of them.
It also doesn’t help that the card, like his T3, presents a stunning picture. Cobb is wielding a bat and it’s a great look combined with the distinctive bright red Cracker Jack backgrounds.
Even in low-grade condition, you can expect to pay upwards of $5,000 for one from the more common 1915 set — a rather steep price for a low-grade card. But that’s where the demand for Cracker Jack and Cobb cards have gone.
Ty Cobb E95 Philadelphia Caramel
Cobb has plenty of early caramel cards that could be added here. But I’d argue that his E95 Philadelphia Caramel card is a must add for a list like this. It’s the most important card in one of the most popular early caramel card sets.
This card has a great image of Cobb and is in the standard caramel card formatting for the era with its white borders and name/team designation at the bottom.
Philadelphia Caramel created two sets, known today as E95 and E96. The E95 set was issued first and is the more desirable of the two because it loaded up on stars. Wanting to avoid duplication in the E96 set, that one is lacking the big names that are found in E95, such as Cobb.
Today, this card is difficult to find much less than $1,000 in any condition.
Ty Cobb E98 Anonymous
The E98 cards are classified as candy issues, even though the exact distributor is unknown. They could have been used by more than one entity and evidence suggests that as many are known with an overprinted advertisement for Old Put Cigars.
Whichever companies used them isn’t all that relevant. The E98 cards are among the more collected early caramel card issues and Cobb is at the front of the line when it comes to demand for players in the set.
With all due respect to players such as Honus Wagner, Cy Young, and Christy Mathewson, it’s Cobb’s card that generates the most demand. A unique characteristic of the set is that the cards are found in an assortment of background colors.
Today, like many of Cobb’s other cards, finding one of these in low-grade condition is difficult to find for under a grand.
Ty Cobb 1933 Goudey Sport Kings
One of Ty Cobb’s most popular post-career cards is his 1933 Goudey Sport Kings card.
This distinctive set is one of the more significant multi-sport issues from the pre-war era. It includes stars in all kinds of sports and Cobb is one of only three baseball players featured.
The card was produced several years after Cobb had retired from the sport. And as I outlined here, it’s possible that this card even prevented a more special Cobb Goudey card from happening.
If you’re looking for cheaper pre-war cards of Cobb, this one fits the bill. It isn’t dirt cheap but, starting at around $500 in low-grade condition, it’s one of his more affordable cards for collectors simply looking for one.
Ty Cobb 1912 T227 Champions
This card really seems to have grown in popularity over the years a bit. Today, it’s quite popular and a big hit with collectors.
Like the Goudey Sport Kings set, this is a multi-sport release that included all sorts of premier athletes. The cards are much rarer than Goudey’s issue, though, and, printed in 1912, significantly older.
In all, baseball is a pretty small portion of the set. Of the 24 cards in it, only four (Cobb, Chief Bender, Home Run Baker, and Rube Marquard) were players from that sport.
The cards’ rarity has made T227s fairly expensive. Even commons from the set start in the $50-$100 range in lower grade condition.
Cobb’s card, of course, is much more expensive. In lower grade condition, you can expect to pay $1,000-$1,500 for one as a starting point.
Ty Cobb 1907 Dietsche Postcard
The debates about Ty Cobb’s true rookie card have gone on for some time. In short, Cobb has several cards that are not considered traditional baseball cards that were released before his more mainstream cards, such as T206.
Among those are the 1907 Dietsche Postcards. Cobb is found in several postcard sets issued around the same time but his 1907 Dietsche Postcards seem to be the most popular ones with many collectors claiming these to be Cobb’s true rookie card.
Cobb actually has two Dietsche postcards in the 1907 set — a batting pose card (shown here) and a second with him as a fielder.
Both are desirable and you can expect to pay at least $2,000 for the more common batting pose variation.
Ty Cobb W600 Sporting Life Cabinet
Another ‘card’ of Cobb’s in the rookie card discussion is his W600 Sporting Life Cabinet. This is really one of his more desirable issues and one that most collectors simply cannot afford.
The cabinet is clearly one of his earliest collectibles. However, these are mounted 5″ x 7 1/2″ photographs and certainly not a baseball ‘card’ by most standards.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t pricey, though. Even in low-grade condition, it generally will start in the neighborhood of $10,000.
Ty Cobb M116 Sporting Life
Many of the cards in the M116 Sporting Life set have sort of gone under the radar. As I wrote before, there’s great potential for this set but a lot of cards really don’t draw a ton of attention.
The cards feature pretty solid artwork and are even formatted similarly to the tobacco and caramel cards of the era. Frankly, I’m surprised they don’t command more interest than they do, given their affordability.
Cobb is one of the few exceptions, of course.
Cobb’s M116 Sporting Life card doesn’t draw the attention that his tobacco or caramel cards do. But it’s still a very popular card in heavy demand.
While you can sometimes find it in very low-grade condition for a bit less, this one isn’t seen too often at under $1,000.
Ty Cobb E120/E121 American Caramel Cards
The E120 and E121 American Caramel cards are popular with collectors. These early 1920s releases helped usher in a new era of a larger style of baseball card that really took shape after World War I.
While Cobb has only one E120 card (left), he has a few in the E121 set that is full of variations and cards with minor differences. Both cards are attractive ones, even though the E120 card has a pretty unforgivable typo.
These are popular targets of collectors that can’t afford a lot of his earlier caramel issues. In lower-grade condition, these generally start around $600 or so.
$600 isn’t exactly a drop in the bucket but it’s a far cry from the $1,000 or so you’ll pay for many of Cobb’s other cards.
Ty Cobb/Sam Crawford T201 Mecca Double Folders
I wouldn’t go as far as to lump this card with most of Cobb’s other tobacco cards in terms of popularity. But it is quite a sought after card as it’s one of his more reasonable ones with regards to price.
The card features both Cobb along with fellow Hall of Famer on this unique folded tobacco card. Unfortunately, Cobb is pictured on the back half so, when fully opened, it’s Crawford’s image that is seen instead of Cobb’s.
Still, if you’re looking for a cheap Cobb tobacco issue, this is one that gets the attention of a lot of collectors. In low-grade condition, it starts around $250-$300.
Ty Cobb T202 Hassan Triple Folders
Similarly, Cobb is also found in the T202 Hassan Triple Folders set. Like the T201s, these cards were intentionally folded and included more than one player per card.
The good news is that if you’re looking for a Cobb card in this set, you’ve got plenty to choose from. Cobb is pictured on a total of five cards (six if you count one where he is pictured only on the middle panel). The bad news is that, despite that, none are ridiculously cheap.
Still, these are among his more reasonable tobacco issues, similar to the T201s. Low-grade Cobb T202 cards start around $400, give or take.
Ty Cobb Tobacco Advertising Back
Despite all of the attention the cards mentioned to this point have gotten, this is the granddaddy of all Cobb cards.
The card looks like a standard T206 red background portrait card. But the difference lies in the back as that includes an advertisement for Ty Cobb branded tobacco.
The legend of the card has grown in recent years and that’s been helped by some new discoveries of it. Once exceedingly rare, the overall population has increased as several have been found in the past few years, highlighted by the find of eight of them by a single family.
Even though prices on them may be coming down a small amount, the card is still very much out of reach for most collectors as it’s generally a six-figure card.
In terms of Cobb cards, it doesn’t get any more expensive than this one.