The only known virtually pristine example of the scarce and highly coveted Ty Cobb Tobacco tin issued early in the last century is going on the auction block for the first time in 18 years. Robert Edward Auctions will feature the gold-topped tin complete with tax stamp still attached, in its upcoming 2012 catalog auction.
The tin is one of only about a dozen known to exist, but the difference between the other known Cobb tins and the one coming up for bid is the remarkable preservation of what is now a century-old piece so susceptible to damage and rust.
The top remains bright gold in color, the box retains its original shape and there is virtually no significant wear. The tax stamp paper strip remains firmly attached, featuring an image of John Quincy Adams, a 1912 date and the 1 1/2 –ounce notation. It is the only known Cobb tobacco tin with the stamp still attached. The front calls the early 20th century superstar “King of the Smoking Tobacco World”.
T206Resource.com offers more information on the production history of the Cobb tin using newspaper advertisements and an examination of the date stamp.
The tin once held ‘plug tobacco’ which was bitten or cut into sections by the user. It’s believed Cobb Tobacco was meant for pipe smoking. The Cobb brand apparently never grew traction, however, hence the scarcity of both the tin and the T206 Cobb baseball card the carries an ad on the back for the product. Only about 12 of the ‘Ty Cobb back’ T206 cards are known to exist as well.
The existence of the high grade Cobb tin has been known for decades and it’s not the first time REA has offered it. The company featured it in its 1994 auction with a $50,000 price—a figure that would probably have collectors lined up today. It didn’t draw a bid, but was sold for slightly less after the auction.
Much has changed in the world of scarce, high grade vintage baseball memorabilia in the intervening years, however. Other, far lower grade examples have sold at auction over the past nine months; ranging in price from nearly $26,000 to almost $36,000. REA has placed a $40,000 reserve on this tin, which is a much desired rarity in both the baseball memorabilia and tobacciana realms and should generate attention from both.
The front image of the tin shows Cobb in a batting pose and is considered to be the same as the one that adorns one of his cards in the T206 set. The Cobb Tobacco tin is the only one of numerous baseball-related tins from the era that is directly connected with a tobacco card issue. See the close-up images below.