I was given a new file at work to process in the past few days. Normally, my front end work is pretty simple if the information was put in correctly but this specific file came in with rafts of errors. Seeing that file reminded me of one of the hobby’s subtlest but hottest grouping of cards. T206 printing errors and other interesting ghosts on cards along with a raft of back variations and more. Since production techniques were nowhere as sophisticated as today, many T206 cards have some strange quirks. And now, more than 100 years after these cards were released, these printing flaws have found their place among the hottest cards in today’s market.
Seeing dealer Dan McKee asking, and in some cases, receiving significant premiums for these at the National is evidence that there’s a big market among serious collectors. McKee shares table space with another long-timer hobby veteran John Rumirez and John is always amazed as to what those error cards bring. John’s current passion as a collector/dealer is creating his version of a “living” 1952 Topps set. It’s sort of a ‘six degrees of 1952’ project. The time frame of his set runs from players active in the 19th century (Arlie “The freshest man on earth” Latham and Honus Wagner to Hank Aaron who signed as a prospect late in 1952.) Latham, you see, was 96 years old in 1952 but was still officially serving as a clubhouse attendant for both the New York Giants and the New York Yankees.
To me, mentioning John and Dan is always fun and I spent quite a bit of time at their booth, as well as their neighbor BA Murry. Two years ago, those booths were the inspiration of the reincarnation of these Rich’s Ramblings columns. The best part of BA’s table was not only did I get to spend time with him but I also got to spend time with Bill “King of the Commons” Henderson. Seeing all those friends and sitting with them both at the PSA luncheon as well as the Heritage Auction was a real neat memory back to the times we spent a lot more time together. Shoot, I used to trade Cardinals cards to BA back in the early 1980’s.
After seeing me talking to these people (as well as the late Ace Marchant) during the 2011 National, editor Rich Mueller asked me to write a piece or two about nostalgia and two years later we're still remembering and honoring the hobby’s past with feet planted in the present. And me, I always liked more modern error and variation cards as well as blank and wrong backs. I think that for pre-1980 cards that is still an very underdeveloped market with some serious room for upward potential. Also, let’s remember that errors and variations are a normal part of the card business and those cards can be very interesting. And sometimes errors which are man-made later can be fun as well. Leon Luckey and the Net 54 board follow the travels of the “Large Ass” Herzog card. That’s really what it says on the back although of course that was not the original intention. We have tons more notes from the National so the tours back to the past will continue for a while.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]