The T205 gold border set is one of the more popular pre-war issues. It followed the revolutionary T206 set and is distinctive for its lifelike portraits, gold borders, and biographical summaries on the backs. Assembling a complete set can be a costly venture for many collectors. However, collecting the entire issue isn’t the only option. Here are several different ways to collect T205s.
As with most card sets, collectors can pursue the collection of individual teams. Team sets are manageable within T205 as most teams have no more than 15 cards. This is likely the most common way that T205s are collected among those not pursuing the entire set.
Collecting team sets can give the collectors the best of both worlds. It allows them to pick up a few stars while also not breaking the back as team sets also include commons. Further, team collecting offers a defined goal and also helps collectors pick up players from their favorite franchises.
Some sets are entirely manageable even for the most modest collectors. The Boston Rustlers (now the Atlanta Braves franchise), for example, has only nine cards with no big names. If looking for a team to collect, don’t merely look at the number of cards in the set, though. Despite having only six cards, the Cleveland Naps set is one of the tougher, more expensive versions. That includes a rare Addie Joss tribute card, Hall of Famer Cy Young, and Terry Turner, widely regarded as a short print.
American League vs. National League
Typically, collecting all of the players in a given league isn’t a pursuit most would take on. But T205s are a little different as each league has different designs.
Cards for players in the American League featured a unique, playing field design. This is the look that many associate with T205 cards. Borders of the diamond vary slightly but, in general, display baseball bats at the bottom along with equipment
The National League cards, by comparison, are much more basic. Instead of a name plate at the bottom, National Leaguers have replica signatures of the player’s name. The most noticeable difference is that the players’ heads are not inside of a diamond. Rather, they are merely placed against a plain background and because there are no diamonds or equipment, the pictures of the heads are significantly larger.
If pursuing an entire set is too large of a pursuit, collecting players from the two leagues is more manageable.
Numerous variations are in the set that feature different poses of players. Many are relatively small but they are distinctly different cards. The different variations can be a lot of fun to collect. Hidden enjoyment is that they include some big name players.
Hal Chase is one. He was one of the earliest stars of the New York Highlanders, now the Yankees. His variation includes a slightly different angle to his face as he is pictured from the side. Hall of Famer Roger Bresnahan is another as he has two cards – one with his mouth closed and second with it open. He’s joined by fellow Hall of Famer Bobby Wallace, who also has two pictures. Wallace’s cards show him with a baseball cap and without one. Other versions of common players are found, too.
Most appealing about the minor leaguers is that they have a different design from the other cards. While the major league cards had their own design, the minor league cards had a different look with the first letter of their team city name in the upper right corners and a name plate at the bottom. The biggest name among the minor league players is Hall of Famer Jimmy Collins.
One nice thing about collecting the minor leaguers is that, while the cards are rarer, they aren’t too difficult to find.
Many collectors lump T205s errors in with the variations but that’s really a mistake. The variations were actual pose variations intended to be entirely different cards. The errors in the set were mistakes that were made in the printing process.
One is found on Hal Chase’s card where the baseline extends into his shoulder area. Another is where the sock logo on Patsy Dougherty’s card was inadvertently colored in with red ink. Another is the famous ‘suffeed’ version where the ‘r’ is missing in the word ‘suffered’ on the card of Irvin Wilhelm. One of Dolly Gray’s cards has his player statistics while another does not. Several others exist as well.
The error card featuring the biggest name is easily Christy Mathewson. Mathewson’s cards are among the more expensive ones in the set making this one all the more desirable. Like the T206 set, T205 cards were printed with various tobacco company names on the backs. Mathewson’s Cycle cigarettes card lists him as having only one loss in 1908 when it should have said 11.
Because errors are some of the rarer cards, collecting this subset can be an expensive pursuit.