Forty-eight years after one collector had a chance encounter with some tobacco cards at an antique shop in Virginia, his set of T206 cards is the star of its own auction. On Thursday, Robert Edward Auctions unveiled the 522-card set of Paul “Jack” Pollard in a special standalone auction running through January 17. The set includes every card except for the famed Honus Wagner and ultra-rare Joe Doyle variation.
Growing up in Lynchburg, Virginia, in the 1950s, Pollard was not unlike many boys his age, making routine pilgrimages to the local drugstore to buy packs of bubble gum cards. Where his story differs from many, however, is how he kept his cards in fine condition and how they were spared from the garbage at the hands of his mother when he left for college.
Flash forward to the early 1970s when Pollard visited an antiques store– a shared passion with his mother, –and stumbled upon an old trunk filled with tobacco cards, silks, and leathers. Purchased for the princely sum of $50, the trunk was brought home and the contents sorted alongside his understanding, but skeptical, wife. The cards reignited Pollard’s passion for collecting and set him down a path of pursuing cards from the 1800s through the 1940s to complement the Bowman and Topps cards from his youth, which he’d since retrieved from his childhood home.
The T206 set, a classic since the days of Jefferson Burdick, was one set on which Pollard focused intently and set off to collect in the best condition possible. Through trading with local collectors in the D.C. area, setting up at small shows in Virginia, and placing ads in publications along the East Coast, Pollard made tremendous headway towards his goals of completion and condition uniformity. Collecting this set, among others, diligently for nearly forty years – through adulthood, into retirement, and until his death in 2009 – Pollard managed to assembled a remarkable assembly of cards in remarkable condition for the issue.
“This is, without a doubt, one of the finest T206 sets we’ve ever had the privilege of handling,” said REA President Brian Dwyer. “It’s made even more special by the fact that it stayed entirely ungraded and out of the public eye for decades. It’s been a real pleasure for us to catalog the set and see it through grading and bring it to auction.”
Highlighted by Eddie Plank and the Sherry Magee (Magie) error, the 522-card set is missing only Honus Wagner and Joe Doyle for completion. Within the set are numerous rare backs that contribute to its appeal. Among them are eight Uzit backs, five of which are Hall of Famers, including Ty Cobb. That card alone is expected to bring more than $50,000. Additional advertising backs include Broad Leaf 350 and 460, Lenox, Carolina Brights, Hindu, and more.
The entire set has now been graded by SGC and features more than 300 cards rated Excellent or better, including 70 at the Near Mint or better level. Dozens of highest graded examples on SGC’s population report are spread throughout the set. “The cards within this set take your breath away. There are so many highlights that it’s hard to single out a favorite,” said Dwyer.
In total, the set is expected to command hundreds of thousands of dollars once all the bids are tallied.
The auction, which runs until January 17, is the second standalone, online-only set break auction dedicated to T206s within the last year for REA and begins what may become a more regular occurrence for the company moving forward. “We are always looking for ways to best serve our clients, and auctions like this offer tremendous excitement for our bidders and unique venues for our sellers,” Dwyer said. The company will continue to conduct three large catalog auctions each year, with the next one slated to open in April.
Details on the auction and registration is available on the REA website.