In November 2013, Heritage held the largest signed T206 card collection auction in seven years. Not only did this auction feature the first offer of a signed T206 Rucker Throwing in over at least a dozen years, but the prices realized were more or less astronomical, when compared with the most recent public sales of many of these cards. Ironically, not a single Marquard was available! However, the other "usual suspects" Doyle and Snodgrass were featured. For collectors looking to add HOFers, you had three to pick from -- Flick, Wheat and Crawford. And the prices realized for those were Hall of Fame caliber to be sure. I was focused on the Rucker, as it was the only one I didn't own. But the Leach is also ultra-rare. Just a fantastic collection of beautifully autographed and preserved T206 cards.
I am thrilled to add my first unique pose T206 in over a year -- introducing Nap Rucker! This brings my total of unique signed T206 poses to an even 40 (provided you count Mrs. Jane Mathewson & Mrs. Blanche McGraw). Someone else figured out that this one is extremely rare and really let me have it in the bidding.
I am also extremely excited to add an authentic Eddie Cicotte signed T205 to my collection. Sure, I'd love a T206, but this was too precious to pass up. So, in one night I was able to add a signature that I did not own before, and a signed T206 that I did not own before. I am very pleased! Thanks to whoever the consignor of these beauties is -- I'd sure love to know who had the forethought to get all these signatures on pre-war cards! They deserve all the credit.
Perhaps once people realized how cool and rare signed T206 cards are, this sort of price inflation was bound to happen. Apparently, the same thing is happening in the market for T206 miscuts and errors.
I really love to share my collection online at Net54baseball.com and on my website. On the upside, it helps me find signed T206s that I might want to acquire. On the downside, collectors learn more about this little niche of collecting and demand goes up.
While as a potential future seller I would like to think signed T206 Marquards are worth over $1,000, as a current prospective buyer I am going to keep my fingers crossed that this was an aberration!
Professional grading is not designed to reflect eye appeal. It is designed to point out flaws, often hard to see or hidden, in a piece of card board. When you see a clean-looking SGC 30, you actually know there are a lot of hard to see flaws. When you see a badgered up SGC 30, what you see is what you get. But not all SGC 30s will look alike -- in fact, at that level of the "pyramid" you will have a lot of different looking cards.
This becomes problematic when sellers try to sell a PSA 2 for what a previous PSA 2 sold for. Without comparing both cards, going by the number alone gets you nowhere because what you don't know about the previous card is whether the damage was similar or whether the eye-appeal was comparable. Sometimes you can get a pretty good deal on a nice looking 2 when a seller is willing to use a previous ugly 2 as a comparable. This is why they say, "Buy the card, not the holder."
Anyway, here they are....
In short, share your images!
The three examples below fall into this category. I absolutely love the Frank Smith, which has been artfully signed in white by someone with a smooth hand. James Spence took a picture for his files, but had nothing against which to compare it. Maybe one day, an identifying exemplar of Smith's will turn up and uncover whether this is the genuine article or not.
The McElveen is an ugly card with an interesting signature. It doesn't have the traditional hallmarks of a fake, as it is small and unassuming. However, given that McElveen died in 1951, this gave McElveen precious few years to sign T206 cards in ballpoint - as this one was - since ballpoint pens only came into vogue shortly after World War II. PSA/DNA found the signature to have questionable authenticity, and JSA couldn't authenticate it either. The reason? Again, nothing against which to compare it.
Finally, good old Gus Dorner. This one is pretty clearly just an identifying mark of a collector, who wanted for some reason to put the player's full name on the back of his card in pencil. However, if it were real, we wouldn't be able to authenticate it -- this is a Minor League card of a player who played sporadically in the Majors only through 1909. Again, no exemplars available.
So what do you do when you come across signed cards that can't be authenticated by anyone? If a player signed few autographs during his lifetime, that makes them rare -- and valuable, but only if the signature can be confirmed as real. Ironically, the rarer the signature, the less valuable it can become. If there's only one -- and there were no witnesses -- then how do you know it is real at all?
Here's one of my favorite signed T206 cards from the Morey collection (Crawford -- who was also in Ritter's book), as well as a scan of the letter from Ritter to Morey.
Email me at SignedT206@gmail.com if you'd like some serious help bidding!
Signed Marquard & Wheat here:
...onto the MiniSD card. Now, when I open the photo album, I can literally flip through my entire collection with my finger, at a faster speed than if I had a stack of T206 cards in my hand. And I do not even need to flip the cards over to see the backs, because the backs are side-by-side with the fronts. Also, the resolution is so good that I can "pinch" the screen in order to magnify the images and see the subtle flaws as well as beauty of each individual card.
I have to say, this technology has really improved my enjoyment of my collection. If nothing else, I was able to bring my BlackBerry to the East Coast National card show this past weekend so that I could see whether I needed certain T206 cards and whether the cards available would be upgrades for me.
But this time, I am pushing for quantity over quality. And I could really care less about condition.
But even so, I often accidentally fall into really nice VG-EX cards that are being lumped in with the beaters, and for hardly any additional cash whatsoever.
What has always been daunting to me is the sheer quantity of cards required for completion. But when you eschew quality of cardboard and player, the quantity part takes care of itself pretty quickly. In a few months of trolling the B/S/T threads on Net54baseball.com and an occasional hit on ebay, I have managed to accrue about 300 new T206 cards, virtually all for under $20 -- and many for less than $15 or even $10. Indeed, I am now less than 200 cards from completion. While I need almost all the HOFers and Southern Leaguers, I only need just about 70 commons now. When I get those knocked off, then the Monster will become a much more manageable beast.
While it is certainly fun to collect HOFers, they are a slower collection. Given that patience has never been one of my strong suits, I think going the commons route has really helped me this time around, because I can see quicker progress.
Also, one of the things that makes collecting T206 so hard is the constant temptation to sell. If you've got a few mid-grade HOFers, they are easy to sell for $100+ as singles. But low-grade commons take a lot more effort to part with and the return is obviously much, much lower. My low-grade T206 commons collection actually makes it harder to just cut bait. It creates its own disincentive to sell.
The Monster may want me to quit, to be sure, but it hardly cares for my approach here either. In this way, I sort of feel like I am sneaking up on the Monster. In a few acquisitions, I'm sure he'll turn around -- "What?! You again, eh?!" -- but for the time being, he sits silently, unconcerned that I am anywhere nearing completion. I have him right where I want him!!
"Where is our boy ? Ah, we've lost our boy"
But I should know
Why you've gone
Because again and again you've explained
You've gone to the ...
National, ah ...
To the National ..
Unfortunately, I will not be going to the National. But if anyone there sees any pre-WW I autographed cards, please be sure to let me know about it!!
In any event, I count at least 32 T205ers not in T206.
31 Kirb White
Seems to me that many of these players were already established by or in the period of the T206 run (1909-11), e.g., Leever and Wolter. And clearly each was either willing or did not successfully object to his appearance on a tobacco card. So how'd they get their mugs on T205 but not T206 -- especially if T206s were issued in 1911 along with their T205 counterpart? Obviously, the number of players in T205 was significantly limited in comparison to the T206 set. So why would approximately 1/6 of the T205 set contain entirely new players? The obvious explanations would be a combination of (a) expired/new player licenses; with (b) declining/emerging talent.
Naturally, it feels as though the well is drying up. But I keep my eyes open for new opportunities all the time. If you've got any leads, please let me know. My "modest" goal is to obtain 50 different signed T206 cards within my lifetime. Much of this is dependent on cards stashed away in private collections making their way into auctions or other public markets. And, of course, a lot of patience.