Monday, December 17, 2012

1909-11 T-206 White Borders

Set Size: 524? cards, 1-7/16" x 2-5/8"

Design Notes: The fronts have colorized images of players in white borders; their last name and team name are printed in the bottom borders. There are several (about three dozen?) back types and color combinations, all advertising cigarette brands. A factory printing designation appears at the bottom of all of the cards.

Parallels and Similars: Several other tobacco issues with similar designs were issued during this time period, but have different borders and other distinctions. T-206 cards have been reprinted and counterfeited many times; be especially careful with high-value/rare cards. Due to the multiple color and tobacco brand backs, there are over 6000 different cards overall.

Distribution: Cards were inserted into packs of ATC-brand cigarettes, with one (sometimes two) cards per pack, sold from 1909 through 1911.

Thoughts: T-206 is the most famous card set in existence, with the most famous card as a part of its checklist. Now over 100 years old, it poses multiple collecting possibilities and challenges - do you collect the approximately 524 cards found in the set? Do you put together one back's complete set? Do you collect one of each type of back? Do you focus on certain players, teams, or poses? No matter what, it will be a challenge. The set has vibrant artwork, since the cards are actually lithographs with several colors used in the printing process. When I finally added a T-206 card to my collection, I was very happy, to say the least. And looking back at the set now, I'd love to put it together - but I'll never have the money or time to do that. Instead, someday I'll pick up a reprint set...

Additional Links: Old Cardboard's page gives details and links to Inside T206 (PDF), which provides a great deal of research on the subject. Additionally, numerous books have been written on the set, including The Card, chronicling the most famous baseball card in existence.

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