by Craig Paulson
The T207 baseball card set has driven collectors batty for years.
It was created in 1912 during the baseball season by American Tobacco, makers of the T205 and T206 sets. However, the T207 set was not as popular as its big brothers. Sadly, the T207 was the very last tobacco created by this company because the Sherman anti-trust act resulted in the company's separation. Nowadays, this set is more difficult to come by when compared to both the T205 set and the T206 set.
There are 13 Hall of Famers in the T207 series and 200 players that make up the set. The set's lack of respect could stem from the absence of some of the star players from this period. Christy Mathewson, Ty Cobb, Eddie Collins, Rube Waddell and Joe Jackson are missing from this set--not to mention Honus Wagner, who made his famous cameo in T206 and then disappeared from tobacco sets.
Still, despite the absence of these stars, collectors have plenty to chase. Walter Johnson, Tris Speaker, John McGraw, Smokey Joe Wood, Joe Tinker, Latin star Rafael Almeida and Black Sox Eddie Cicotte and Buck Weaver are all present in the T207 set.
On each card you will find the biography of each player printed on the back, a nice touch that was probably appreciated in 1912--and still is today. However, the cards in the T207 set are not as appealing as the boldly colored cards in the T205 or T206 sets. The cards are almost eerie in nature, with a foreboding feel present on some. Featuring beige-colored borders, T207 cards have a brown background. The player's last name, team and league is printed in block letters at the bottom. Condition is often a problem. Like all tobacco cards, their smaller size has created wear and a coating on the front often brings out whatever wear has developed over the years.
This set also has its share of scarcities. The cards came with eight different back variations. Cards distributed with Red Cross Tobacco are virtually impossible to find, with last week's find of eight new cards bringing the known number of those variations to just 13. Those with Broadleaf and Cycle tobacco advertising on the backs are also rare.
Recruit Little Cigars and Napoleon advertising backs are most common. A non-rare card with a common back in VG condition can be found for less than $50.
Scarce commons will run six times higher and more--when you can find them. There are several common cards that are very difficult to locate. This could be due to the fact that the T207 cards were released at two separate times. Early in the baseball season a large number of the cards were released, but not all of them . It wasn’t until approximately two months later that the remaining cards were sent out in those packs of tobacco products and the second release wasn't as widely distributed the first.
It is usually very easy to identify where the cards were manufactured simply because the information is usually found printed on the back of each card. However, there are cards that have been created without a tobacco brand advertised on them. These cards are known as Anonymous Backs and can be found in Virginia and Louisiana where they were manufactured.
The cards that belong to the Broadleaf-Cycle category are not only very scarce but, are also great rarities. These very scarce and rare cards are often very highly priced because of how difficult they are to find. Irving Lewis, Ward, Miller, Nelson, Pelty, Peters and Ragan are a few of these rarities. Based on the description provided on the cards, some of the players were issued later in the season and are considered some of collecting's first 'high numbers'.
The front variations are very recognizable in this series. For example, Ray Fisher's card shows him with a white cap or a blue cap. There are three varieties that are evident on the Paddy Livingston card.
On his shirt, there is a small ’C’ insignia (for Cleveland) which is not a difficult variation at all. This is the more popular variation on the card. However, more difficult on the card is the larger ’C’ and the larger ’A’, which represented his time with the Philadelphia Athletics. A group of all three sold in the 2010 Robert Edward Auctions' catalog event for over $1500.
A very tough card to locate in the T207 set is the Irving Lewis card. It was created in two forms, which is either with the emblem on the sleeve or without it. The card that does not have the emblem on the sleeve is the more difficult card of the two to locate however, because the Lewis card is such a challenge to find, collectors are content with having anyone that they are able to acquire.
The T207 set is not nearly as popular as T205 and T206 issues from a similar era, but it is still of great value and by all accounts, far more scarce than its predecessors.