More than 90 years after he took off his spikes for the last time as a player, he’s still making headlines. Even if you can’t fork over six figures to own one of those rare ones that generated all the recent media attention, you can still find some cheap original Ty Cobb cards to call your own. In fact, there are plenty of great cards from Cobb’s career that can be had for less than the big guns.
There are dozens of different Cobb cards to chase from throughout his career. He played a long time, making his debut in 1905 and hanging around long enough to get into a big ruckus with a young Lou Gehrig.
No Cobb card from a century ago is “cheap” but we’ve got a list of 10 cards from his playing days that you can own right now for less than you might think.
1920s Strip Cards
The “W” series cards won’t win any awards for ‘most beautiful’. They were printed on paper stock and were made using rather crude drawings but some are better than others and Cobb’s cards seem to offer a much better likeness than others in the series. The W515 is a great example, which portrays Cobb without a cap and with that old English ‘D’ on his jersey. Many of these can be found in lower grade for $250-$400 each, even graded and authenticated (even less for true beaters).
1913 Our National Game, Tom Barker
We’ve written about the pre-War ‘game’ cards before. No, they weren’t packed with cigarettes or candy, but so what? They’re still original cards, often in high grade thanks to having been protected inside the game box for decades, and offer great photos. You can own a mid-grade Cobb in either of these two sets for less than you’ll pay for a modern unopened box of a “high end” product.
1914 B18 Blanket
They don’t appeal to everyone but if you’re a vintage card collector, owning a B18 Blanket should be on your list. Made of felt and often sewn together to make a quilt, this set included Cobb. There are a couple of different color variations. You can find these for $200-350.
One of the most striking card sets ever issued, these gold-bordered beauties feature Ty’s big ol’ head in all its competitive glory. Sure, high-grade examples will cost thousands but shop around and you can sometimes find a low grade example of this card for under $1500.
1909-1911 T206 Portrait (Red)
This card seems to be the most common of Ty’s cards issued in the set and is the same image used on the very rare ‘Cobb with Cobb back’ example that generated those headlines. Put $2000 as your target price and you can probably land a graded card from the prime years of one of the greatest players ever. There really isn’t a ‘bad’ investment when it comes to T206 Cobbs.
1910 Sweet Caporal Pins
Another beautiful, old Cobb for a ridiculously cheap price. Issued with tobacco during the same era as the T206 cards, there are two versions for Cobb—one with his name in larger letters and another with smaller letters. You can usually buy one for around $500 at the lower end.
1911 Mecca Double Folders
The T201s are very unique. Meant to be folded over, you actually got two players for the price of one. Wahoo Sam Crawford on one side but flip it over at the fold and you get Cobb on the other. The good part is they’re very cool looking old works of art. For $350-$550 for a modest but decent example, the Double Folders are tough to resist.
1912 T202 Hassan Triple Folders
We simply can’t recommend the T202 set highly enough. These gorgeous cards are unique, brilliant and feature classic images from more than a century ago. Best of all, they can be found in lower and middle grades for prices that are really reasonable compared to some other issues. The middle of the card is an actual photo—and although you’ll find Cobb paired with others, we love the card with Cobb and a smiling Hughie Jennings on each side. Grab a lower grade one for under $1500 when they come up and you’ll never regret it.
1921 and ’22 Caramel and Chocolate cards
Cobb appeared on a few related, but different sets issued with caramel and chocolates in the early 1920s. The best part is they were all made using photos rather than artwork. Not “common”, they’re not hard to find either and for some reason, prices have stayed within reach of dedicated collectors who shop around for the best looking cards with low technical grades. You can find some that have wear but still display well for around $1000.
The postcard-size Exhibit cards often represent tremendous values and the earliest issues should definitely be on your list. Cobb’s 1921 card shows him doing what he does best—swinging the stick. It’s a gorgeous image. These are popular and a little rare. Still, you can sometimes find one for under $1000 as long as you’re OK with something that’s much less than mint.