When most collectors think of tobacco cards, the first ones often mentioned are the American Tobacco Company’s popular T205 and T206 issues. Those sets featured a total of more than 700 cards and are among the most collected tobacco issues even more than 100 years later. But there are also plenty of other popular tobacco sets from the pre-war era – here are five of them.
1912 T202 Hassan Triple Folders
Printed in 1912, these tobacco cards were released a year after the T205 set. T202 cards consisted of a total of three parts (two end cards and a black and white picture in the middle) with the end panels featuring the same pictures of players used in the T205 release, tightly connecting the two sets.
The checklist of players on those end panels included players included in T205 with the exception of Smoky Joe Wood and Walter Blair, who were both added to the T202 issue. Commons from the set generally start around $50 for cards in decent condition.
1911 T201 Mecca Double Folders
While the T202 cards consisted of three parts, T201 tobacco cards had only two. The cards, however, were extremely different as they folded vertically while using the same bottoms (legs) of a player for two different players. When folded down, the top half of a second player would be revealed, covering the upper half of the first player in the process.
Thus, each card contains two players and there are some great combinations of players on single cards – none better than Hall of Famers Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford of the Detroit Tigers. Their card generally starts around $400-$500 in mid-grade condition.
The T207 brown backgrounds set isn’t as popular as its T205 or T206 brethren (the set is often cited as an American Tobacco Company product as those two releases are), T207 still has a strong following. The cards are in stark contrast to other colorful tobacco issues but there are plenty of reasons to love this release. Like the T205 and T206 tobacco cards, these boasts various advertising backs with the Broadleaf/Cycle backs being particularly rare. And while many stars are missing in action, the set still boasts plenty of big names, including Hall of Famers Walter Johnson, Zack Wheat, Tris Speaker, Frank Chance, Joe Tinker, Bobby Wallace, Max Carey, and Harry Hooper, among others.
The set also has other big names, including Buck Weaver and Eddie Cicotte from the 1919 Chicago Black Sox team. It routinely turns set collectors away due to the sheer scarcity of some cards. Commons are affordable, though, starting around $25 in reasonable shape.
1909 T204 Ramly
The T204 Ramly tobacco cards have a look all their own. Instead of the typical elongated rectangular shape, T204s are much closer to a square. Black and white pictures of players were ‘framed’ inside of a decorative gold border, which made them look more like miniature pictures instead of your typical trading cards. As a result, Ramly’s have a classier overall look which is suitable because they are one of the more expensive sets.
Many big names are missing from the set but the issue is famous for the Walter Johnson card, which is sometimes viewed as a rookie issue. Even in lower grade, the card is highly desirable, selling for a few thousand dollars. A PSA 8 recently sold for $132,000 at a Memory Lane Auction.
T3 Turkey Reds
The T3 Turkey Reds are a little larger than your standard tobacco cards. But they issue is often heralded as featuring some of the best artwork among pre-war sets. Because of that, they are heavily desired by pre-war collectors.
Featuring thick gray borders with nameplates at the bottom, the cards are famous for their full length pictures, which are primarily action shots. Some of the pictures will be familiar to collectors as they were used in other sets. These ‘cards’ were nearly 6″ wide x 8″ tall and were premium items for customers of Turkey Red cigarettes. The cards are not cheap, starting at around $100 in even presentable low-grade condition.