Ty Cobb 1913 ‘Sliding’ National Game and Barker Game Cards are Popular Targets

Finding Ty Cobb cards from his playing days is getting more difficult to do. Not that there is any real shortage of them. Some are tough to find but things like his T206 cards are not hard to find — in part because there are four different ones.

No, it’s not the rarity, necessarily — it’s the price. Costs of Cobb cards have always been high but they’ve skyrocketed in the past couple of years. So finding bargain ones is getting tougher.

One that is a low-cost collector favorite is found in the 1913 National Game (WG5) and 1913 Barker Game (WG6) sets.

Those sets are basically parallel issues and were games consisting of a deck of playing cards. They included virtually the same checklist and pictures. Like most playing card sets with a baseball theme, they did not have the standard numbering/suits that are found in traditional decks. Instead, these cards have printed actions on them that helped dictate the flow of a real baseball game.

Like other playing cards, these are not that hard to find in mid-grade or even high-grade condition. The rounded corners keep wear from being significant in many cases. And many of these cards do not appear to have been played too heavily. While perhaps not the norm, finding cards in grades of 7, 8, 9, or even 10, certainly happens more than you might think if you are unfamiliar with them.

There are many baseball games like these — but many do not feature actual players. These do and, because of that, they are quite popular and more valuable. The set has all kinds of stars in it and big names from the pre-war era — including Cobb.

Now, Cobb has a base card in each of those sets, starting in the $300-$400 range in decent condition. But he has a ‘lesser’ card that is sort of the equivalent of an ‘In Action’ card. See, in addition to the many individual players in the deck, a subset of sorts of action scenes was included.

And low and behold, Cobb is one of the players shown. It is not easy to determine the players on some of the action cards because their names are not provided. But Cobb is one that is clear. He’s a sliding baserunner with his face in full view, making it quite easy to see that it is the Hall of Famer with any sort of magnification.

The bad news is that, like other Cobbs, the card has been on the rise. It used to be relatively easy to find the card starting at $100 or less. Now, it is virtually impossible to find even a low-grade one in that condition. The good news? It is still one of Cobb’s most affordable cards. Finding any Cobb for $200-$300 these days is extremely difficult. Yet, these cards, even in high-grade condition, can be found in that range.

So if they are so affordable, why doesn’t everyone have one? After all — it’s one of Cobb’s cheapest cards from the pre-war era. Well, a couple of things to that. First, Cobb is not named on the card. Even though it is him, there are some collectors that want a card with the Cobb name on it. Second, it’s a playing card. While tobacco and candy/gum cards are the most popular pre-war type, there’s less demand for the other stuff that isn’t ultra rare, including game cards.

Finally, the cards are not all that plentiful. Calling them rare is probably a bit of a stretch. But PSA has graded only about 50 of the National Game cards and about 25 of the Barker Game cards. While a significant number of raw cards likely exists, that’s a pretty low number for each set. eBay searches are another good indicator. Typically, there, you will not find many for sale, if any at all.

All in all, though, it’s a great card for the money — if you can find it.

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