Boxing Cards Most Popular T218 Champions Subset

Boxing subjects lead the way in the popular T218 Champions set

I’ve written about the T218 Champions set a good bit on this site. The set includes all sorts of interesting topics, subjects, and even baseball, if you dig hard enough. Simply put, it’s probably one of my favorite multi-sport sets.

Even in the face of rising prices, it’s an incredibly affordable set for an American tobacco sports issue. With 153 cards, too, it’s large enough to provide a challenge but not too large to discourage collectors with a bit of patience.

There are all sorts of reasons collectors pursue this set. But one sport stands out the most in it — boxing.

In all, there are 62 boxing cards in the 153-card T218 Champions set. That number is only approached by one other sport — track and field, which includes about 50 cards across all sorts of disciplines, including sprinting, distance running, hurdles, hammer throwing, and more.

The boxing subjects make up more than 1/3 of the cards in the series that is believed to have been issued in different stages from 1910 through 1912. And with 62 cards, frankly, it’s a large enough subset that collectors can focus only on those if they choose and still find a challenge.

The biggest boxing cards (and the most expensive cards in the set) belong to the legendary Jack Johnson. Johnson has two cards — a front facing card and one picturing him from the side. Both are somewhat iconic images. Only a few years ago you could purchase some decent low-grade examples starting around $25-$50. But today, those same very low-grade cards will often exceed $100. They do sell for under $100 on occasion, but usually only very poor examples fit into that category.

Don’t let those numbers scare you, though. Not only are those the most expensive cards, they’re the most expensive boxing cards by a big margin. No others really even come close.

Cards of a famous Johnson opponent, James Jeffries, are popular. But while Jeffries was one of the greatest fighters of his generation, his cards (he also has two) don’t come close to approaching those of Johnson. Low-grade Jeffries cards start around $10-$15. Ditto for the card of Abe Attell.

Attell wasn’t the fighter that Jeffries or Johnson was, but his T218 card has gained a lot of popularity because he was connected to the 1919 World Series scandal involving the Chicago White Sox throwing games. All Attell cards are priced fairly high given that. But even with the baseball link, low-grade Attell cards still only start in the $20-$30 range.

A few others fit in the Jeffries/Attell category with regards to price. Early Black fighters Sam Langford, Joe Gans, and Joe Jeannette all command prices significantly over those of commons. But all three also can be found in low-grade condition starting in the $20-$30 range.

One great thing with the set is its overall affordability. The set is surely more expensive to build than it used to be. And while some of those bigger names cost a little bit more money, low-grade commons are still relatively plentiful starting around $10. If you’re willing to sacrifice on condition, you can even find them cheaper than that, on occasion.

Remember, too — this is a set dubbed ‘Champions.’ That’s important to remember when you consider the common cards because, even most of the cheapest fighters in the set had somewhat notable careers.

As I’ve said before, the entire T218 Champions set isn’t for everyone. There aren’t ‘true’ baseball cards, or cards of athletes from other popular sports, such as football, basketball, and hockey. That immediately rules out many collectors. And even collecting the entire boxing subset may not be a goal for many. But if you’re looking to pick up a handful of early boxing cards at affordable prices, the set is ideal for that.

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