Lucky 7 Find, meet Match Box Find.
Another copy of the T206 Ty Cobb with Cobb Tobacco back, one of sports collecting’s rarest baseball cards has been uncovered. Freshly authenticated and graded by PSA, the century-old rarity was found by a Georgia family while cleaning out their late father’s home. Humbly tucked in a match box that was stored in a sock drawer along with a few dozen other T206 and T205 cards, it’s now been authenticated and graded (PSA 1, Poor). Consigned to SCP Auctions, it will be among the major draws to the company’s fall catalog, set to launch October 18.
“They actually reached out to us through our email in-box,” noted company Vice-President Dan Imler. “And we responded quickly. We even flew the consignor out to SCP headquarters (in Laguna Niguel, CA) and drove together to PSA to get it graded.”
Cobb Tobacco back T206s carry a “King of the Smoking Tobacco World” advertising message on the reverse and are believed to have been distributed through the short-lived “Ty Cobb Tobacco” brand tins. Except for the back and a slightly different feel to the surface, the cards are identical to the more common red portrait cards of Cobb that were part of the American Tobacco Company’s 1909-1911 set known as T206.
Only about 15 Cobb backs were known prior to a remarkable discovery of seven copies inside an old house in the southeast early in 2016. Given the “Lucky 7 Find” moniker, the cards were consigned to MINT State, a sports card dealer in South Carolina. With grades ranging from 1.5 to 4.5, the seven cards were sold or auctioned for a combined $3 million over the ensuing 12 months.
The newly discovered example being offered by SCP carries the PSA 1 grade, largely because of staining that’s visible around the edges of the card, imperfect registration and scattered light creasing. Still, the Sports Market Report values a PSA 1 at $135,000. The 1.5 Cobb from the Lucky 7 find sold last year for $192,000.
Among the other cards found inside the match box was a Kid Elberfeld (fielding) with an extremely rare Broad Leaf 460 back. Graded 1.5, that one is expected to fetch $8,000 or more. Another lot will include 28 different low to mid-grade T206 cards including several Hall of Famers and a slightly higher grade lot of T205s, also including some big names like Frank Chance and Eddie Collins.
The family that unexpectedly uncovered the century-old treasures may have surmised the little collection might have value to someone, but is said to have been “pleasantly surprised” by the six-figure price tag.
“It’s why we come to work every day,” said Imler. “We’re always on the lookout for the next great rarity that surfaces. It’s also gratifying to know that there is still great material out there lying in wait yet to be discovered.”