Rarity of Buck Weaver’s Cards Contributes to High Prices
Buck Weaver has relatively few cards — and almost all of them are rare
As I wrote last year, card prices for the eight banned members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox team are quite high. That has been the case for a while but prices have really taken off in recent years.
One of those players, of course, is Buck Weaver. And while Weaver was a solid player, he isn’t a Hall of Famer (even if he were eligible) by any reasonable standard. Weaver’s card values, like most of the others, are based less on being a major star and more on being a part of one of baseball’s worst moments. Most of them have few cards by comparison and that has only helped to drive up values.
That isn’t to denigrate Weaver’s playing ability. Rather, it’s to point out that his cards wouldn’t hold nearly the kind of value that they do now as if he was not one of the banned players.
But while his indirect role in the 1919 Black Sox scandal is a large part of the reason Weaver’s cards are so expensive, another reason is that the few cards he has are all fairly (or, in some cases, extremely) rare.
For purposes of this article, I’m not even going to bother with his really rare stuff like some of his tough minor league cards. We can take a look at some of his more common stuff and see that even those cards simply aren’t all that plentiful.
One of the easier Weaver targets is his T207 card. The card, coincidentally, is his major league rookie card. The card is well-known and, as one of the more valuable cards in the set, certainly one that warrants being graded. But it’s also part of the rare Broadleaf/Cycle subset and, to date, not even 60 have been graded by PSA, SGC, and Beckett combined.
And, again, we’re talking about one of Buck’s easier cards to find.
There are others, of course. Weaver’s easiest minor league target is probably his T212 Obak card.
Weaver’s T212 Obak is usually available somewhere. The problem is, if it’s on eBay, it’s often found as a pricey Buy it Now option. Actual auctions for it where you can get the card at more of a true market value are not seen too often.
The card is a really great picture of Weaver in a batting pose. Unfortunately, like all Obaks, it’s somewhat rare. You will see Weaver’s card pop up for sale more often than other common players that don’t generate much interest. But if you think it’s technically not a rare card, think again.
To date, only about 60 have been graded of these, too. And while many cards don’t get graded because of their low values, that isn’t the case with Weaver’s Obak card. Again, it’s one of the more expensive cards in the set (part of the big three in the entire three-year run of Obak sets) and, even in low-grade condition, starts in the $500-$700 neighborhood. Plus, as stated, you can’t even always buy it for that since there are not a ton of them out on the market. In a Buy it Now environment, asking prices for a $700 Weaver may be closer to a grand.
Now, Weaver does have a few cards with higher populations than these. At least one, anyway — the W514 strip card. This is another popular Weaver target for collectors and is one you can see from time to time. Issued somewhere around 1919-21, it’s also one of his final cards from his playing days.
But while population reports do indicate it’s more common, the market is still not flooded with them. To date, the Big 3 graders have only graded about 100 of these.
The damage for a W514 Weaver card is not quite as high as the first two cards mentioned. But you can still expect to pay somewhere in the ballpark of $300 or so for even a low-grade one.
If you’re not too familiar with pre-war cards, you might look at the increased number in the pops and be inclined to think that the cheaper price is attributed to that. But really, it’s because the card is a strip card and doesn’t have nearly the same kind of prestige as a tobacco card. I’d argue that even if the pops on the first two cards were closer to this one, it would not lower the price. There is enough demand for Weaver cards that adding a few dozen more to the market would not really hurt the values.
Not all Weaver cards are necessarily overpriced by comparison. Okay, so they are. But one that is priced fairly low compared to his other stuff is his M101-4/M101-5 card. Those cards came during the middle of Weaver’s career so they don’t have the same appeal compared to his T207 rookie or minor league cards. But based on the rarity (only about 50 total graded), they’re a relative bargain compared to these.
When they go up for auction, solid mid-grade cards are usually start around $500. That’s not cheap, obviously, but it’s a far cry from what you’d pay for a mid-grade example of his other cards with similar rarity.
Much of Weaver’s value is of course tied up in the Black Sox scandal. But I’d also argue that a good bit of it is tied up in the fact that he’s simply not found in the more common sets of the area like T205 and T206.
Look at Eddie Cicotte cards, for example. Cicotte was considered the ace of that team and his cards sell for a fraction of what Weaver cards do. Part of that is because Cicotte is found in other sets like T205 and T206, other strip issues, etc., and it’s not nearly as hard for collectors to get their hands on those. You can get T205/T206 cards of Cicotte in low-grade shape for as little as $100 or even a little less.
Weaver isn’t in either of those sets, nor is he in the more common caramel card sets. That, like the Black Sox scandal, is another reason why his cards are so bananas in terms of price.