Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Most Expensive Card I Own

For the first time in about 9 months, I went an entire week without purchasing any sports cards or even something sportscard related.  I broke the streak today with a 1986 Topps Mike Scott tattoo for $1.27 shipped, which I thought was a fantastic deal. 

That being said, I generally go through phases.  Phases where I expand my collecting horizons and buy different cards, usually at card shows to improve the old collection.  Then I go through a slow down period where I only buy very few cards, usually just T206s, but the occasional Orval Overall that I expect to never see again.  Actually, I set up an eBay alert so I can see what new Overalls hit the site every morning.  More than a few purchases were due to persistent searching of this type. 

So, few cards have come in and aside from the card above and a missing lineup card, I don't have anything en route to my home.  I do need to scan and upload some new cards onto Photobucket, since there are a few piles uncatalogued, not including cards bought before August of this year.  So, going through the archives, I saw that I have scanned the most expensive card that I own.


There are four Ty Cobbs in the T206 set, making him the second most prevalent player in the set after Hal Chase, who has five different cards.  Cobb, being a star of the day and still a popular player, commands a premium compared to most of the cards in the set.  Going into it, I knew that these cards would likely be the most expensive to acquire and to date, the three most expensive T206s were Ty Cobb (Green Portrait), Ty Cobb (Bat On) and Ty Cobb (Red Portrait), though Walter Johnson's portrait is threatening to move into second place if I show no willingness to wait. 

The green portrait, as seen above is the rarest of the cards.  In fact, aside from the very rare Honus Wagner and Eddie Plank cards, the Ty Cobb Green Portrait is the second hardest hall of famer to acquire after Johnny Evans (Cubs on shirt), which has not nearly as great of a story attached to it. 

So, last August, I was making my regular search of T206s in the morning, seeing what new cards were posted the night before.  While doing so, I see a few groups of very low priced T206s, some in rough condition, some in very rough condition and some looking like poor Fred Tenney below. 


Given the prices, I was a little concerned about whether they were legitimate, but that didn't stop me from ordering a group of seven cards with Joe Tinker, a group of six cards and a Willie Keeler batting, all at outstanding prices.  Looking at what sold the previous night while I foolishly slept, there was a Ty Cobb (Green Portrait) included as well, at an exceptional price.

So, I waited for the cards to arrive and did within three days, as the cards never left the state in transit.  Upon arrival, I carefully removed them from their packaging and was met by some flaking on some of the worst cards like the Tenney above, but they were otherwise legitimate and sound cards. 

Fate smiled a week later when I saw the Ty Cobb for sale on Net54.  The card itself measures short, not through some nefarious trimming to improve condition, but quality control on tobacco premiums was not a job held by the most skilled member of the American workforce.  As such, you find some cards measure short and some are trimmed and some are errors.  The seller disclosed this and I waited, as the price was well more than I wanted to pay for the card.

However, having seen the others, I was interested.  Very interested, even though I was not interested in purchasing a raw Ty Cobb, since the odds of counterfeit were higher.  But the reputation of the previous owner was impeccable and I had other cards from the initial purchase in hand.  After a few hours, the price came down, as the seller intended solely to flip the card for a substantial profit.

Knowing this, I bided my time and set a target.  A few days passed and finally the card came within range for me to make an offer.  A small amount of haggling and I convinced myself, what a fine deal for the card, even if it only grades Authentic.  More importantly, almost all of the damage on the card is on the back.  It has tremendous eye appeal and since Cobb is one of my favorite players in the set, it was an important factor in making my move.  It also helped that yearly bonuses are given in September, never forget that additional money often funds card purchases. 

And my experience with the card since then was nothing but fantastic.  Trae over at included a set of his T206 back reprints with the Cobb, which was an awfully nice gesture and when I took the card for grading, expecting only an Authentic, I was surprised to see the card was graded SGC20 or Fair, which if you saw the back is a more than fair grade. In fact, here is old Ty locked away from prying hands covered in dangerous oils.


I think it is cards and experiences like this which lead me to keep collecting and have me focused on the finish line, only 34 cards from completion. 


  1. Great looking Ty Cobb. A true masterpiece and a new collecting goal for me.