Beyond the Big Four: A Look at the Other Top T206 Cards
The T206 set is known for the Big Four — but there are plenty of key cards after those
The T206 baseball card set consists of 524 (or, depending on who you ask, 525) different cards. Among those, the Big Four are the most valuable — shortprinted cards of Honus Wagner and Eddie Plank, and error cards of Sherry Magie and Joe Doyle. But those cards are so rare and expensive that most building a set do not even consider pursuing the group.
But what about the rest of the set? Well, if you’re unfamiliar with it, there are plenty of other big time cards.
At the top of that list are the four Ty Cobb cards. Cobb has two portraits and two cards depicting him with a bat. The four are not equals, however. While it likely holds only a slight edge in rarity, the green background card is at the top of this sub-list. It is not rare or valuable enough yet to make a true claim to join the Big Four. However, starting in the $1,500-$2,000 range for the most part, it is the fifth most valuable card, pound for pound.
The rest of the Cobb’s generally start at a bit less than a grand.
Ray Demmitt / Bill O’Hara St. Louis Variations
After that are probably the St. Louis version cards of Ray Demmitt and Bill O’Hara. Demmitt began his career in 1909 with the Yankees before heading to St. Louis in 1910, during the middle of T206 production. O’Hara also started his career in 1909 with the New York Giants before going to St. Louis for the 1910 season.
T206 production continued into 1911. However, the change in team was only noted on one brand — Polar Bear. Almost all Demmitt and O’Hara cards show them as a member of their respective New York teams. But the Polar Bear cards have them as members of the St. Louis Browns (Demmitt) and St. Louis Cardinals (O’Hara).
These cards, as I’ve written, actually have a better claim to joining the Big Four than the Cobb green background cards, which are far more populous. But they have also been passed up by that card, which is a preference of most that are not looking to build a set.
Both are relatively tough to find and, in low-grade condition, usually start somewhere in the $700-$800 neighborhood.
Trio of Hall of Fame Portraits
After those are probably the portrait cards of the other key Hall of Famers in the set, such as Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, and Cy Young. Those players do also have action poses as each one has more than one card in the set. WaJo has two cards, Matty three, and Young, also three. But their portraits have generally come to be known as the slightly more valuable ones.
Low-grade portrait cards of these players will generally start around $400-$500 with Young usually considered to be a bit ahead of the other two. But all three are valuable and increasing in price.
Beyond that, you’ve got a number of other valuable cards including key Hall of Famers. Some of those would be the aforementioned action poses of Johnson, Mathewson, and Young.
Two more that probably deserve a mention are the Washington version of Kid Elberfeld (portrait) and the Brooklyn version of Bill Dahlen. These cards are rarer than their New York and Boston counterparts, respectively, and generally start in the $150-$200 range. In terms of tougher variations in the set, both deserve some mention here, even though their cards aren’t particularly difficult to find.