More than 100 years later, 1916 Tango Eggs baseball cards remain among the hobby’s rarest sets of the era. The set doesn’t even have a fully confirmed checklist. It appears to be closely tied to the 1915 E106 American Caramel setbut there’s still plenty we don’t know.
While collectors are aware of this issue today, it wasn’t even widely known until the 1990s when a large find of several hundred cards (accounts on the exact number vary, but it’s usually anywhere from 500-800 cards) was made. Not only that, but the cards that were discovered were in excellent condition, meaning they were almost certainly never issued.
Since then, other low-grade examples have made their way into the hobby indicating that at least some had made their way into the hands of collectors. But much of the population of these cards comes to us from that large discovery. Players found in the discovery were not proportionate. Some had only a few examples but three, Bob Bescher, Buck Weaver, and Hughie Jennings, had many more. Those remain the three most populous cards.
As stated, the cards are closely tied to the 1915 E106 American Caramel set. All known Tango Eggs cards use the same artwork as is found in that issue and some collectors believe that a full Tango Eggs checklist should mirror the full E106 checklist, which includes 48 cards.
Ray Demmitt’s image from the E106 set, for example, was reused but his Tango Eggs card names the player as Hap Felsch. Joe Tinker was changed to Buck Weaver. Fred Jacklitsch was updated to Billy Meyer and Mike Doolan became Ray Morgan.
These are often cited as ‘errors’ but I do not believe that to be the case. The interesting player about all four of the players found in the 1915 E106 set is that they all had new destinations by the time the 1916 Tango Eggs cards were released and were no longer playing for their former teams.
It is likely that the cards aren’t errors so much as they are Tango Eggs merely swapping out players as those players had left their former teams. Further evidence of that possibility is presented in that the images that were kept were pretty generic shots with no team logos showing, etc. Two, even, are pictures of players from the back. Those images could have been intentionally chosen from the E106 set instead of other pictures that did have logos and identifying characteristics associated with them.
The Tango Eggs checklist is a difficult one to pin down. Most checklists today show a total of either 18 or 20 cards in the set. The difference seems to stem from the existence of Honus Wagner and Joe Tinker. Both are listed in many checklists but have not been widely confirmed with known images to the hobby. Several years ago, REA even offered $100,000 for proof of their existence. To date, they are still question marks.
Assuming they do exist, that would get us to 20. But other known cards have been found, too, that don’t appear in most checklists. A Rebel Oakes card has been spotted as was a low-grade card of Eddie Plank. Despite clear evidence of their existence, they remain off most checklists that have not been kept up to date. That moves the checklist to either 20 or 22, depending on what you think of the Wagner and Tinker cards.
Finally, while Ty Cobb is in the set, rumors of a second Cobb card (different pose) have been in the hobby for years. A few collectors say it exists but it has not been widely seen by any large group of people. Thus, it remains off of most checklists. One note here is that, assuming the set does follow the E106 checklist, a second Cobb card should exist as he was given two cards in E106.
1916 Tango Eggs Prices
Prices for the Tango Eggs cards are kind of all over the place due to the imbalance in known cards. One thing of note is that the cards are often found in mid-grade, or even high-grade, condition as most seemed to be virtually untouched when initially discovered in the 1990s and were promptly graded.
The most inexpensive cards are generally the Bob Bescher card. The most examples of his card exist and nice copies can usually be found in the $150-$200 range. Even this PSA 7 sold for under $200. And even though he is a Hall of Famer, Hughie Jennings cards aren’t too high because his card was populous as well. An SGC 60 recently sold on eBay for about $450. Others are up in the air depending on the number of examples believed to exist, condition, and player. Ty Cobb has only one known example and it’s brought a hefty price when sold. REA auctioned it for more than $15,000 last year.
As of this writing, there are a few cards from the set listed on eBay.