Wanna buy a T206 set overnight? Here’s what it’ll cost you.
You can buy every one of the cards needed to build a 520-card T206 set on eBay. The bad news? It’ll cost you.
Sometimes my curiosity gets the best of me. That isn’t always a big problem, per se. In some cases, that might mean a 30-second investment to Google something dumb. But in other cases, I can spend hours of my time (time, which I almost never have) for the sake of ‘just because.’
Such was the case on Wednesday night after I stuffed myself with Wendy’s and started thinking about T206 cards almost entirely out of the blue.
I started to wonder just how much a T206 set would cost these days. Not if you took your time or were lucky to find one already built. No, I mean, if you literally had cash to burn and wanted to build an entire set in a night without any respect to cost.
Obviously, the place to do that would be eBay where you could obtain all of the cards at once. But how much would that cost? These are the kinds of inane questions that keep me up at night — and, well, I had to find out.
A few notes here as a bit of a disclaimer. First, the price is exceedingly high. Even exercising the least bit of patience would dramatically drop the price of the set. This is the price for a binge buyer who simply wanted the cards in hand as soon as possible, buying them strictly on eBay without hesitation or waiting for auctions to close. This was buying the set at Buy it Now prices. If you want a fun game, take a stab at what you think it would cost without looking for the answer at the end of this article.
That said, I did not even include taxes and, depending on where you live, that could be a significant sum of money. Even a modest 5% in taxes results in a few thousand dollars. In addition, many prices did not include the shipping. If shipping was free, it was included. However, that was not often the case so you could safely add, another grand or two for shipping, assuming you’d get some of the same sellers that would combine it for multiple purchases.
And of course, we only did the 520-card set here, excluding the Big 4 rarities. You’ll hardly ever find any of those on eBay, even if you had the money to buy them.
So what did I find?
I found the occasional card for a manageable $30-$40, but the majority, I would say, were either overpriced or were cases where only nicer/graded cards existed, driving the price up. $50 was a pretty safe starting point with many cards having the cheapest example start even significantly above that. Finding commons with the lowest available price at even $100, for example, was not terribly rare, either. None of that was surprising. The Buy it Now cards on eBay are often not priced to sell. Still, asking prices were largely quite high.
What really surprised me, though, were the few amount of cards available for sale for many players. Perhaps there are just as many cards out there for sale than there were when I was actively buying the set about six years ago. But it seemed like there were just not that many cards of relatively common players. I’ve either got that wrong or, perhaps, more people are just collecting the set and holding onto those cards for themselves.
This, I figured, would not be a cheap pursuit. But even knowing that, I cringed as the total surpassed $24,000 even just as I made my through the ‘C’s of the alphabetical list. Now, granted, that included the four Ty Cobb cards (which could be had for somewhere around $12,000, if my memory serves me correct). Still, that’s a ton of money for barely making a dent into the 520-card collection.
I crossed the $50,000 mark roughly halfway through the set in the ‘L’s after some hefty Nap Lajoie cards that were about $1,400 total for the trio. A single letter later and we were over $62,000 after the ‘M’s before surpassing $70,000 after the ‘O’s, thanks mostly to a $6,000+ Bill O’Hara St. Louis variation with no cheap options available. After the ‘S’s we were past $80,000.
What was the final tally? All told, it ended up a shade under $91,000.
That number was a bit high to me. If I would have guessed, I would have said it would have roughly been $75,000. I clearly didn’t account for the $100 and $200 commons that I didn’t expect to see.
So what would that buy you in terms of condition? As you’d expect, a mostly low-grade set. That would include a few mid-grade cards where lower-grade ones simply weren’t available. But generally, you’d be getting a lot of cards with damage ranging from creases, stains, paper loss, and even chunks. A couple, I’m quite sure, were chewed upon by farm animals.
So, am I saying it cost this much to build the set? Of course not. I’d estimate you could get a very low-grade set without any frills/special backs for half that or even less — especially if you took your time. But hey, if you’ve got about $100K lying around and wanted to have a set instantly, well, there you go.