If you're a dedicated collector of vintage baseball cards, you're probably familiar with the T206 set. It's the home of the 'holy grail' Honus Wagner, of course. It's also where you'll find numerous errors, variations and oddities that are constantly under scrutiny. Now comes an anomaly that is both bizarre and mesmerizing: a T206 Eddie Plank that is not only devoid of background and facial color, but also one of only five that carry the Piedmont 150 Subjects advertising back. The 'albino Plank' has been consigned to the upcoming Goodwin & Company auction with a starting bid of $40,000.
While rare even with its most commonly seen pastel blue background and Sweet Caporal ad back, the 'no color' version of the Plank card is believed to be one of a kind. A similar card exists, however, featuring a yellowish background. Both are part of a group of the American Tobacco Company's T206s that somehow survived the printer's scrap trash heap and were later cut into standard size cards by collectors.
The offered Plank card has a precise cut but has been graded as 'trimmed' by PSA. It was originally owned by Barry Halper and sold when Sotheby's liquidated much of that collection in 1999. Paired with another, standard issue low grade Plank with an irregular cut, they sold ungraded for $18,400 at the time. It sold again ten years later via Heritage Auctions for $26,290.
The card set to go on the block this weekend is one of five Planks known to exist with the Piedmont ad on the back.
There are other T206s with the same color scheme and all appear to have been salvaged as printers scraps and are hand cut. However, along with the Wagner, "NY Nat'l" Doyle and the Sherry "Magee" error, the T206 Eddie Plank is among the four most rare cards in the set. In 2011, a T206 Plank graded PSA 6 (EX/MT) sold for over $193,768.
The entire back story of why Plank essentially disappeared from the T206 series is a mystery. Some speculate it was a contractual issue while others say Plank may have had a similar objection to Wagner's dismay over having children potentially purchase cigarettes in an effort to obtain his card.
One or two-of-a-kind cards such as this generally attract some of the most wealthy collectors of vintage cards and with comparisons impossible to make, it's difficult to guess what the 'no color Plank' will eventually sell for but it's possible bidding could stretch into six figures.
There is a a normal PSA 5 Plank up for bid on eBay nowwith a minimum bid of $95,000.