More than 80 years after the Black Sox scandal, Joe Jackson baseball cards disappeared right along with his big league career once Judge Landis handed down the proverbial lifetime ban.
Ten years before that dark time in baseball history, Shoeless Joe was a young prospect--a raw talent uncovered by Connie Mack. He had enough promise that the American Caramel Company included him in what's now known as the 1909 E90-1 set. Standing relaxed with his hand on his hip and a relaxed expression, Jackson leans on his bat.
The E90 is universally regarded as Jackson's rookie card. No others were issued in 1909 and he appeared on the verge of a great career with the Philadelphia Athletics despite having just made his big league debut in 1908. Between '08 and '09, though, Jackson played in just ten games. By the middle of the next season, he was shipped off to Cleveland in a trade.
He looked less like a ballplayer and more like a coach when he popped up again in the T210 Old Mill Cigarettes series in 1910. He was no longer in the majors, having been assigned to New Orleans by the A's, ordered to stay there before reporting to Cleveland at the tail end of the big league season. That minor league card marks the only time Jackson appeared on a tobacco card and it's far more rare than the E90 rookie card. Fewer than ten are known to exist.
The Old Mill Southern League card may not have the overall appeal of the E90, but for collectors of Pre-War cards who know their Ts from their Es, the Old Mill is the one they covet most. Seven...maybe ten times... more scarce than the T206 Honus Wagner and virtually impossible to find in what we consider 'high grade' today because of the bright red borders. Jackson is part of series 8 in what is a whopping 640 card issue.
The scarcity of the Old Mill Jackson card has won out on the rare occasion when they have come on the auction block. SCP Auctions sold a PSA 2 example for $83,810 in July of 2009. Robert Edward Auctions offered an SGC 40 in April 2006 that sold for $116,000. The E90 Jackson's high water mark last year was an SGC 70 that brought $79,068 at auction. An SGC 40 sold for $17,834 in July while a PSA 4 brought $34,800 four months earlier.
Collectors have their pick of both in the current Robert Edward Auctions catalog. The E90 Jackson carries a $10,000 reserve while the T210 has been set at $25,000.