The False Rarity of the T201 Mecca Double Folders Lord/Dougherty Card
The Lord/Dougherty card in the T201 set is often described as a rarity — here’s why it isn’t
The T201 Mecca Double Folders set is one of the more affordable tobacco card releases you can find. And, cheap plug alert, I’ve written an article on the set that should appear in the next edition of Beckett’s Vintage Collector.
The cards are not as populous as the T206 set. But few pre-war things are and the set is not terribly rare by any means.
Despite that, there have been claims over the years that a particular card is much rarer than the others. Specifically, the card of two Chicago White Sox teammates, Harry Lord and Patsy Dougherty, is the one in question.
The basis for the claim of the rarity of this card stems from the fact that it was believed that it can only be found with the Factory 649 designation. In short, T201 cards were distributed out of two well-known factories — Factory 30 and Factory 649. T201 cards with the Factory 30 designation appear to have printed in far fewer quantities as cards with that designation are more difficult to find. T201 cards indicate in small font if they were issued out of Factory 30 or Factory 649. And while I do not care one bit in the slightest about such inane intricacies, there are many collectors that do.
While the other 49 cards have been known with a Factory 30 print, the Lord/Dougherty is often not believed to have been issued from that factory at all. That would make it a true shortprint, assuming the story was true. Turns out that it is not, though, as a collector recently informed me that a couple of copies are indeed known.
But the Lord/Dougherty card wouldn’t be a chase card, even if no Factory 30 card existed simply because many of them were printed with the Factory 649 name.
Here’s the thing, though — even if the card was shortprinted, that doesn’t make it rare.
Sure, assuming typical survival rates for the cards in the set are relatively equal, the card would be technically rarer than the others. But that doesn’t mean it is a rare or difficult card to find.
To date, PSA, SGC, and Beckett have combined to grade the card approximately 300 times and many other cards in the set have been graded fewer times — sometimes, even significantly. For example, more than half of the entire set has been graded fewer times by SGC than the Lord Dougherty card has. The card may be shortprinted, but it seems to exist just as much as other cards.
But, theoretically, if the card was shortprinted, again assuming some commonality compared to survival rates with other cards, how can that be? Well, quite simply, relatively few Factory 30 cards exist in total. That makes for little impact to population reports and could help balance things out quite a bit.
Consider the following example. Say another card (let’s give it a generic name of Card #1) in the set has 280 graded cards with the Factory 649 designation. There are about 300 Lord/Dougherty cards, presumably all from Factory 649. The first card may have another 30 graded cards with the Factory 30 designation while there are say no Lord/Dougherty cards from that factory. That gives us a total of 310 for Card #1 and a total of 300 Dougherty cards. The two are so close in number that the difference is barely noticeable, even if the Lord/Dougherty card was indeed not printed with the Factory 30 label.
I haven’t seen any sort of study to indicate just how rare the Factory 30 cards are in comparison to the Factory 649 cards. But they are significantly fewer in number and that’s an example of how a card that seems as if it should be rare is not technically all that rarer than the others. Even if the card did not exist at all for Lord/Dougherty (it does) that means that any sort of difference would be negligible.
Unfortunately, the undeserved ‘rarity’ designation has led sellers to believe the card is rarer than it is — or to try to convince buyers of that. The card is commonly priced as if it was a card featuring star players. But when sold at auction, it usually ends at a more reasonable price, just slightly above other commons in the set. The card generally starts in the $30-$40 range in low-grade shape when other commons usually start around $20-$30.