The Walter Johnson T207 is One Hideous Baseball Card
This rare tobacco card of the Hall of Famer Walter Johnson could be … better
Cards from the American Tobacco Company’s T205 and T206 baseball sets are almost universally adored by collectors. A big part of the reason for that is the spectacular artwork seen in those sets. By comparison, a lot of collectors have run from the 1912 T207 set.
Now personally, I’m a big fan of this set. I love it for any number of reasons, including the contrast in artistic style. Many of the images are better than collectors think but even I will recognize that the pictures on some are less than stellar.
And there might not be one as bad as the card of Walter Johnson.
WaJo is in the set, just as he is in the T205 and T206 sets. And while his cards there are beautiful, his T207 card is … not.
There are lots of things to dislike about Johnson’s T207 card. At the top of the list is that it simply doesn’t look anything like him. That’s a somewhat common theme in T207 with some imagery that isn’t real great. But it’s particularly true in Johnson’s case. This may be a tad unfair but it is difficult to imagine the artwork for the card was commissioned to an artist with any significant ability.
Even those is just sort of an awkward one. It’s clear that Johnson is in a throwing motion, I suppose. But the uniform looks to be a bad fit and, aside from a bit of shadowing in the jersey, there’s just little real definition to any part of the image.
The problem for the card is not simply that it’s an ugly one. See, the T207 set is known for, among other things, its ridiculously weak checklist. The set does not include Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner, and many other stars.
That makes the card of Johnson and other big name players that much more important. And, with all due respect to the likes of Tris Speaker, Zack Wheat, etc., Johnson is the biggest name found in the set. And when you take that into consideration, that somehow makes the ugliness of the card stand out even more. It’s just such a bad look on such an important card.
That Johnson appears in the set is somewhat interesting given all of the omissions. One thing I’ve often wondered is if he was a late addition, causing his card to be hastily created. Given how badly it came out, I don’t know that we can rule out that possibility.
Whatever the reason, it’s a shame this card doesn’t look better. Like all T207s, the card is not real plentiful and his is the biggest name in the entire set. To date, PSA has graded only a little more than 150 of them and that’s an incredibly low number to Johnson’s very popular T206 cards. This is a card that otherwise would have every chance to be a highly sought after one.
A nicely done card would really increase its prestige and make it more desirable. With so few stars, it is a card that quite honestly could have attracted a lot of attention. Instead, collectors tend to run from it and gravitate towards his more appealing cards.