There may be no pre-World War II baseball card set more attractive and just plain cool looking than the T205 tobacco issue. Often lost in the shuffle behind the much more widely discussed and collected T206, this gold bordered cousin is especially stunning on those rare occasions when you find them in high grade.
This week’s auction listings include two high grade T205s that are already attracting a lot of attention. They’re almost too pretty to sell, but hey, that’s what we do!
Both are graded PSA 7: Fred Beck and John Bates. There are only two copies of the T205 Fred Beck that are graded higher than the one we’re currently offering. The Bates is one of only 11 at the PSA 7 level.
What makes the T205 set special? Well, for one, the cards now 101 years old. Produced in 1911, it features legends of the game like Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson. The design of the cards is among the most recognizable and unique, often used to illustrate stories about baseball in the early days.
The gold borders really make the images stand out and reflect the era very well. Unfortunately, those cool looking borders make T205s very susceptible to wear. The slightest nick can drop a card’s grade significantly. That’s why collectors flock to auctions like this—because finding fresh, high quality examples is such a rare opportunity.
The artwork on the player portraits is sensational. Some National League players’ cards actually contain facsimile autographs, which some collectors still think of as a more modern invention. Unlike T206, the backs of the cards actually contain a little blurb about the player, which is a nice touch, and some statistics. This set was really groundbreaking in that regard.
T205 cards were printed with 11 different tobacco back brands, a few less than appeared on the backs of the T206.