T210 Old Mill Set Beyond Joe Jackson
There’s more to the T210 Old Mill set besides the rare Shoeless Joe minor league card — here are five other things that make it special
The T210 Old Mill minor league baseball card set is one of the more distinctive issues of the time period.
The cards had the same size and shape of other tobacco card sets of the era. But its black and white images and red borders were both significant differences from most sets being produced at the time.
The Shoeless Joe Jackson card is easily the key to the set. Not only is it the most important card in the set but it’s one of the most valuable of all pre-war baseball cards. However, there’s a lot more of interest found in this complex set. Here are five things that make it special.
1. Casey Stengel Minor League Rookie Card
While the Joe Jackson card in the set is the one that deservedly gets most of the attention, another key rookie card in it is a card of Hall of Fame manager Casey Stengel.
As a minor league card, some collectors would not consider this a true Stengel rookie. However, it is, if nothing else, one of his earliest cards and depicts him before his major league days. Famous for his managing, Stengel’s playing career as a major leaguer did not begin until 1912. This set was a full two years before then.
Stengel’s card pictures him with his Maysville minor league uniform. In 1910, Stengel spent time with three teams, including Maysville. He wasn’t too successful with the club, playing in 69 games and batting only .223, according to Baseball Reference.
Stengel’s card does not hold the value that Jackson’s does. However, it is still the second most expensive card in the set — and by a large margin. Even in only modest condition, it can sell for five figures.
2. Orange/Yellow Borders
So the T210 Old Mill cards are known for their unmistakable red borders. But some cards are missing those. Some cards in the set are known for either orange borders, yellow borders, or some mixture in between.
Collectors have presented a few theories for the color variations. Varying ink levels during the printing process are probably the culprit. But some collectors feel the printing was intentional and others by mistake. And the problem is similar to one often seen in T205 cards. Those cards were supposed to be printed with gold-colored borders but some are known with an olive green shade of border.
The difference in shade, as seen in these cards, can vary pretty greatly. There is also a bit of confusion as to which cards can be found with the border color variations. As stated in this thread, most collectors believe the color variations in borders can only be found on cards in Series 3 in the set.
Whatever the cause, deliberate or unintentional, these cards typically sell for a premium over the red border ones — though the amount can fluctuate greatly.
3. Eight Series’
In all, there are a total of 640 cards in the entire T210 set. That set, however, is broken up into eight different series’.
The series’ are not random, haphazardly filled with different players with no rhyme or reason. Each series includes players from specific leagues. Here’s the breakdown:
- Series 1: South Atlantic League
- Series 2: Virginia League
- Series 3: Texas League
- Series 4: Virginia Valley League
- Series 5: Carolina Association
- Series 6: Blue Grass League
- Series 7: East Carolina League
- Series 8: Southern Association
The backs of the Old Mill cards do not name the player, or include statistics or a biography. However, in addition to the generic advertisement for Old Mill, the series number of that particular card is printed at the top.
The rarity for the set is interesting to study. If you look at the overall population reports from the three major grading companies, you can already see the cards are rare.
PSA, SGC, and Beckett have combined to grade about 6,600 cards from the set in all. That number would already be relatively small but consider that the set has a whopping 640 cards in it. Essentially, about ten cards of each one in the set have been graded.
What does that mean? There’s really two important things here.
Old Mill cards are both rare and they’re not. For example, finding any Old Mill card to have as a type card is not difficult. There are generally a few hundred of them on eBay at any given time. Currently, for example, there are about 300 of them up for sale. However, if you think finding any specific Old Mill card is easy, think again. Remember, the population reports show about ten graded on average per card. So if you’re looking for a specific card, you may be looking for some time.
That also is complicated because some series’ are significantly rarer than others.
5. A Mascot
Since many of the names in the set are not big ones, the cards all sort of run together.
There is, of course, a devoted following pursuing these cards. And some collectors chase cards in a particular series. But as a whole, to many collectors, the cards just feature a bunch of random players that a lot of folks have simply never heard of.
But in addition to Jackson and Stengel, another intriguing card is found in Series 7.
The card shown here is not depicting a player. Rather, it depicts a young boy, who is a team mascot. Young boys were often listed as team mascots as the word didn’t really mean the same as it does today. This boy with a last name of Kelly is listed as a mascot for Goldsboro.
While such a card might seem inconsequential compared to actual players, it’s actually one of the more valuable cards in the set because of its uniqueness. Even in low grade condition, it usually sells for $1,000 or more.