There are many popular card sets in the hobby, but few carry the mystique of T206 – the card issue nicknamed “The Monster” because of its difficulty to complete, and due as well as to its all-consuming nature. Starting a T206 set is an easy proposition – many, many collectors have started sets – the cards are easy to find (particularly in collector grades), and bargains on individual cards are common. Completing a T206 set, however, is a different story – 70 Hall of Famers add considerable expense, while multiple player poses and variations, tough Southern Leaguers and difficult-to locate scarcities within the set create collecting challenges that eventually frustrate all but the most patient and passionate collectors to the point of abandonment. Certainly, the number of collectors who have completed a T206 set is just a fraction of the number who have started.
Presented here is the end of result of such an exercise in patience and diligence – a complete (save for the “big four” of Wagner and Plank, along with Magie and Doyle variations) set. Featuring 520 cards, all in collector grades, this is an exceptional collecting achievement, including the remaining tough variations, all the Hall of Famers, and the difficult Southern Leaguers.
While the great majority of the cards are ungraded (which, face it, is the best way to build this set), the set does contain 29 graded keys, from a mixture of grading companies. While there are a number of back varieties represented, the total number of cards with “tough” backs is just 59, with none more scarce than Cycle 460, as the collector of this set was more focused on completing the task than getting sidetracked by such things as difficult backs.
It is often stated that the greatest value in purchasing a complete T206 sit lies in its breakup value; acquiring 70 prewar Hall of Famers plus all the difficult Southern Leaguers, variations, and tough poses in one shot represents an excellent opportunity for a dealer to help multiple collectors with their own pursuits. However, it is our opinion that acquiring a complete set such as this affords the collector with an outstanding foundation on which to upgrade and improve, without the additional challenge of having to find all those tough variations.
The overwhelming majority of the cards in this collection reside at the lower end of the grading scale, with the graded examples representative of the set in its entirety. A condition breakdown of the graded cards is as follows:
SCD Authentic (1 card): EX 5: Kid Elberfeld (Washington); PSA VG-EX 4 (1 card): JJ Clarke (Cleveland); PSA VG 3 (1 card): George Mullin (Throwing) SGC VG 40 (4 cards): Frank Chance (Red Background), Willie Keeler (Portrait), Heinie Wagner (Bat On Right Shoulder); PSA VG 3 (MC): Joe Tinker (Bat On Shoulder); PSA GOOD 2 (4 cards): Walter Johnson (Hands at Chest), Nap Lajoie (Portrait), Rube Marquard (Hands at Thighs), Christy Mathewson (Dark Cap); SGC GOOD 30 (3 cards): George Brown (Washington), Christy Mathewson (Portrait), Shag Shaughnessy; SGC FAIR 20 (4 cards): Home Run Baker, Ray Demmitt (St. Louis), Hugh Duffy, Cy Young (Portrait); PSA PR 1 (5 cards): Ty Cobb (Red Background), Joe Doyle (NY), Christy Mathewson (White Cap), Joe Tinker (Portrait), Joe Tinker (Bat Off Shoulder); SGC POOR 10 (5 cards): Ty Cobb (Green Background), Walter Johnson (Portrait); Bill O’Hara (St. Louis), Cy Young (Bare Hand Shows); Cy Young (Glove Hand Shows) PSA PR-FR 1 (MK): Red Kleinow (Boston).
An overall breakdown of the set’s condition would be 8% VG or better; 18% GOOD; 30% FAIR; and 44% POOR with a few likely trimmed, as the cards do fall heavily on the “collector grade” end of the condition spectrum. As is frequent with cards of this era, many cards exhibit back damage from scrapbook removal in the form of glue and paper loss, and approximately 50 of the cards have small pencil notations on the card fronts, noting each player’s defensive position.
The set is presented lovingly in two binders; one containing four-pocket sheets for the graded cards and the other containing 15-pocket sheets for the ungraded cards. Many of the ungraded cards once resided in grading company holders; the original grading company “flip” has been carefully placed behind each card in its binder page. Spaces for the graded cards have been noted with paper inserts, and four blank spaces have been left in the binder for when the winning bidder acquires his Wagner, Doyle, Magie and Plank cards to complete the set.