We may have mentioned that Rudy Strejc was likely a smoker of Old Mill cigarettes. We draw this conclusion based on the amount of cards in his collection that had Old Mill backs. The collection contained 100 or so T206s, most of which had Old Mill backs. This yielded a pretty cool assortment of cards, including a generous proportion of Hall of Famers (two Cobbs, a Matty, a Johnson, and a bunch of others).
While the Old Mill reverse isn’t necessarily scarce, it was refreshing to see such a large grouping of cards with that back, as opposed to the ubiquitous Sweet Caporal and Piedmont backs we’re so accustomed to seeing. Of 37 possible back combinations, the website T206Resource.com ranks the Old Mill back approximately #27.
What’s also cool about T206Resource.com, however, is that it serves as a clearing house for possible front/back combinations. When our consignor first discovered the collection, he used T206Resource.com to come to a pretty cool conclusion:
The Josh Devore card in his collection had never before been seen with an Old Mill back.
Devore was a decent ballplayer. Through his seven-year career (mostly with the New York Giants), Devore hit .277 with a .361 OBP, mostly as a reserve outfielder (though he hit leadoff for the 1911 and 12 Giants). He was known as an expert baserunner, and after his major league career ended, he went back to the minors, where he stayed until retiring at the end of the 1924 season.
While there are most certainly Devore player collectors, he wasn’t Honus Wagner. It’s not Devore’s popularity that make this card special, it’s the card’s scarcity. With the millions and millions of T206s that have circulated through the hobby, this is currently the only T206 Josh Devore with an Old Mill back.
Like many of the cards in the Rudy Strejc Collection, we had this one authenticated by SGC. As with most of the T206 cards, a well-meaning relative kindly trimmed the card’s top and bottom borders so that they could be fit into a plastic sheet, thereby avoiding damage. As such, the card received an “AUTHENTIC” designation. However, a collector won’t be interested in this card because of its condition.
A collector would be interested in this card because as of now, it’s the only one.