T206 White Borders Baseball Cards
This set is called The Monster for very good reason. It's one of the most widely-collected sets of any era. It contains the single most famous card in the hobby, one recognized even by non-collectors. It has some scarce cards, even though most are easily obtained. It can be collected in a wide variety of ways: as a set, by teams, by Hall of Fame players, by back design, only certain minor leaguers, by portraits or action poses. There is truly something for everyone in the set.
The T206 designation comes from Jefferson Burdick in his American Card Catalog in the 1930s, but the cards are also known as white borders due to their design. That border surrounds a strikingly colorful lithograph, with simply a name and city below the picture in black ink. Most of the 524 fronts are vertically oriented, but a small number are horizontal. However, there are a lot of similarly white-bordered sets of the era (many of those using the same pictures), which causes some confusion among even intermediate collectors.
The way of knowing for sure which set a card is from is by looking at the back. Among T206 cards the back design carries only an advertisement, and there are sixteen different tobacco brands that issued them. Sweet Caporal and Piedmont are the most common, but there are also ads for Polar bear, Sovereign, Broadleaf, Cycle, Drum, Old Mill, Carolina Brights, El Pricipe de Gales, American Beauty, Hindu, Lenox, Tolstoi, and Uzit, as well as some with blank backs. One more brand is Ty Cobb, which is found on the back of some of Cobb's own red background card.
Not all cards are found with all the backs, and there are different variations among the backs themselves that push the number of total back designs to more than 30. In all, there are more than two thousand different front/back combinations in the set, which makes putting together a true master set to be a nearly impossible task without a considerable amount of cash and hobby connections.
The set was issued over a period of three calendar years, from 1909 through 1911. As a result of several different printings, some players have multiple images and poses. For example, Ty Cobb had four different images, and Hal Chase had five. Several players are shown on two different teams due to trades. Minor leaguers are included as well, with Southern Leaguers being tougher because they were only printed from 1909-'10. There are also scarcities that resulted from a card being pulled when a player left the game or was traded; Bill O'Hara and Ray Demmitt were two such players.
Of course, the most famous card in the hobby and a legend were created because of a star player who requested his card be withdrawn. Honus Wagner's T206 image is iconic, and sales of his card often make the newspapers because of the amounts involved. It's not the scarcest card in the set, but it's the most coveted. There has long been a disagreement about why Wagner's card was pulled early in the printing. Some say that Wagner was worried that kids might buy tobacco products to get his card, while others suggest it was a matter of getting paid. Whatever the reason, it's the single most revered card in the hobby.
Sherry Magee had his last name spelled Magie on some of his cards. Since the error was corrected in subsequent printings, the error card is quite valuable today. Hall of Famer Eddie Plank's card was severely short-printed. Hobby legend states a printing plate broke and his card was generally removed in the process. A version of Joe Doyle's card listed N.Y. Nat'l while most omitted the league designation.
The Wagner, Plank, Magie and Doyle cards are considered the Big 4 cards that aren't considered necessary to complete a T206 set. However, they're cornerstones to any major collection.
Key T206 White Borders Baseball Cards:
T206 White Borders Baseball Card Checklist
Top 25 Singles
Here are the real time rankings of the 25 Most Popular Singles currently being sold on eBay: