Little-Known Rube Marquard T206 Print Errors Are Tough Finds

Hall of Famer Rube Marquard has several print errors in the T206 set — and they’re hardly ever mentioned

The massive T206 baseball card set has all sorts of variations. In addition to the ‘true’ variations (i.e. pose differences, team designation changes, etc.), there are a host of cards with print errors. The most famous, of course, is the Joe Doyle N.Y. Nat’l card, which is part of the Big Four.

But some others are hardly discussed. One is the Jeff Pfeffer ‘Chicaco’ card I’ve written about before. And three others are ones I only recently learned about surrounding Hall of Famer Rube Marquard.

Like several other big names in the set, Marquard is featured on a few different cards — a portrait, a non-action card, and a third where he is in the follow-through of a throw.

But what many don’t know is at least two of Marquard’s cards have fallen victim to print errors.

The most famous one is one that was recently pointed out to me in a discussion. The error is found on Marquard’s throwing variation and includes a No. 8 printed in red ink on his sleeve. It is one that was slated to be added to the Standard Catalog of Vintage Cards, a now-defunct publication. While plans were in the mix for that to happen, the next version of the publication was never printed. Nevertheless, PSA, in turn, recognized it and even slabs cards with that designation now.

A PSA 3 card sold at auction a few years back for $3,900. As a point of comparison, a regular Marquard PSA 3 at that time would have probably sold in the $150-$250 range. However, what the card would sell for today is unknown.

Fact is, while it is a very rare card (PSA has graded only four copies — one with a Piedmont back and three with a Sweet Caporal back), so few collectors seem to know about it that its appeal is somewhat limited. Plus, rare print variations always fluctuate wildly. Another PSA 3 of the same Marquard variation, for example, sold in a REA auction around the same time as Love of the Game’s and netted less than half that amount ($1,800).

That is the most well-known of the Marquard T206 variations but a few others exist, too.

Bob Lemke, author of the Standard Catalog first cataloged the Marquard No. 8 card on his blog back in 2011. At the same time, he noted a second Marquard print error on the pitcher’s portrait card.

The majority of Marquard’s portrait cards have a simple period after the ‘N’ on his jersey. However, a small amount have a separate line mark at the bottom of it, giving the appearance of a backwards comma.

Because the ‘comma’ is part of the picture, it is not a typed errant punctuation mark. Rather, as Lemke noted back in 2011, it was likely the result of a printing plate issue causing an extra mark.

The Marquard ‘Reverse Comma’ variation, as it has come to be known, has not generated the same sort of enthusiasm as the Red No. 8 variant. Even in August 2020 with prices on T206 cards rising sharply, a PSA 2 of the Marquard Reverse Comma card only raised a modest $312 in a Heritage auction. It carries a premium, but seemingly only a small one.

Those are the two main Marquard print variants. But at least two more exist.

If you aren’t too impressed with these ‘variations’, you’re going to be even less enthusiastic about the other two known types, which are documented here on the Net54 site.

Both also occur on the throwing variation of the card. One has a dash or hyphen type of symbol on the sleeve. Interestingly, that one is in the same shade of red as the No. 8 variant. The other has a blue circle on one of the shoulder areas.

The cards are not ‘one-off’ cards with print issues. More than one example has been found of each. However, the interest in these cards, also uncatalogued as legitimate variants, is even less than the reverse comma card. Prices for these are likely about the same as the regular cards.

So what gives? Why the relative lack of interest about most of the print errors?

For one thing, as mentioned, many collectors simply don’t know about them. Only one of the four is even graded by PSA with the designation of the error and it still is not widely known. Uncatalogued errors or ones that grading companies refuse to acknowledge often do not generate significant interest. That isn’t always the case but catalogued errors and variations usually fare better.

Another problem is that three of the four errors are pretty insignificant. Errant print marks simply aren’t all that intriguing — even if one does give the appearance of a comma on a Hall of Famer’s jersey.

A final issue is that print errors in general have gotten less appealing as the years have gone by. Some, of course, are quite desirable. But many collectors are tired of the novelty of some. Many, after all, are simply errant print marks caused by a printer and a QA/QC process that was less than stellar.

That is not to say the cards should not be desirable. Ultimately, cards are bought and sold for what the market will bear. And if collectors decide that the cards should be valuable, than they will be. But look at how the market has cooled for other once-hot T206 print errors like the Red “Murr’y” card or the “Nodgrass” card. While clearly still holding a premium, those cards are not nearly as sought after as they once were.

So does that mean the cards should be ignored? Not necessarily. Three things, it should be noted, give the Marquard print errors some hope.

One is that, as stated, few collectors seem to know about the cards. If more collectors become aware of the cards, that could drive them up a bit — particularly the No. 8 error, which is by far the most interesting.

The other thing of note is that these errors reside on the cards of a Hall of Famer. While prices for some T206 cards have come back to earth a bit in the last few months, cards of Hall of Famers have remained hot. No, Marquard does not elicit the attention of a Ty Cobb or Babe Ruth, or even most mid-level Hall of Famers. But he is a real-life, bonafide inductee into Cooperstown’s Hall, and that could help values of these climb in the future.

A third point is that, simply, the cards are quite rare. They certainly exist in much fewer quantities than his regular throwing and portrait cards. If rarity is a barometer, the cards have that on their side as all of the variants seem relatively tough to track down.

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