While not as popular as its T206 brother, the T205 gold border set is without question one of the most beautiful baseball card issues ever created. In addition to its unique look, Hall of Famers and baseball greats weave through the 208-card (more on that in a bit) checklist. There are also a number of short print cards – some of which are very difficult to find. Unlike T206, the addition of biographies to the backs offers more insight to collectors wanting to learn about the faces on the front.
One other reason for its popularity, though, is the presence of numerous variations and errors.
Accounting for only the variations, the T205 set has a known checklist of 208 base cards. This includes the numerous poses on the fronts of the various players. The variations are different from the textual errors in that they are specifically different cards of the same player.
Several variations are cards of players that show their faces from different angles. Each player with a variation shows both the player in question facing the artist straight on and one at a different angle or with some other distinction. Each player listed below has two different cards and both variations are identified in parentheses (the more difficult variation is listed second).
- Cy Barger (full ‘B’ on his cap and a Partial ‘B’ on cap due to his head at a slight angle)
- Roger Bresnahan (closed mouth and open mouth)
- Hal Chase (both ears show and one ear shows)
- Eddie Collins (closed mouth and open mouth)
- Russ Ford (black cap and white cap)
- Bob Harmon (both ears show and one ear shows)
- Bobby Wallace (with cap and without cap)
- Hooks Wiltse (both ears show and one ear shows)
While 208 cards are considered a complete set by many collectors, some don’t stop there. In addition to those cards, the set offers a wide range of errors and other differences to be collected.
PSA considers a master set to be complete with 221 cards. To get there, one must add in these error cards:
- Hal Chase both ears (frame/border line extends past his shoulders)
- Doc (Otis) Crandall (the ‘T’ in Otis is not crossed)
- Patsy Dougherty red sock (the sock logo, which should be white, is not filled in and since it is printed on a red background, it gives the appearance of a red sock)
- Dolly Gray (no stats on the back)
- Dick Hoblitzell (no stats on the back)
- Dick Hoblitzell (name misspelled on the back)
- Dick Hoblitzell (No ‘Cin’ added after 1908 on the back)
- Arlie Latham (back says W.A. Latham instead of merely A. Latham)
- Lefty Leifield (signature is A.P. Leifield instead of merely A. Leifield)
- Christy Mathewson (back shows him with only one loss in 1908 instead of 11 losses – only found with the Cycle brand back)
- Pat Moran (back has a stray line of type added)
- Bobby Wallace (back has two lines of 1910 stats)
- Kaiser Wilhelm (back says ‘suffeed’ instead of ‘suffered’)
The Mathewson one-loss, Wilhelm ‘suffered’, and Moran stray line may be the three most difficult to obtain. However, many others listed above are extremely tough finds as well.
Scarcity varies for these error cards when matched up against their corrected versions. For example, the Gray card with the stats on the back is much harder to find than the version without them. However, the Hoblitzell card without his statistics is significantly more scarce than the corrected version with the stats.
Similarly, the Moran error card with the stray line of text is much more valuable than the correct version. For Wilhelm, however, the correct ‘suffered’ card is one of the most difficult to obtain in the entire set and harder to find than his error.
Other versions that are significantly more scarce include: W.A. Latham on back, A.P. Leifield signature (pictured), Mathewson one-loss back, and Wallace one 1910 line. In addition, all three Hoblitzell errors listed above are also rarer than his corrected 1908 Cin version.
More T205 Errors And Variations
New errors are still being recorded and a few more have popped up in the past few years that are outside the scope of what many previously considered a master set. For example, the cards of Dots Miller are now known to contain slight errors in his biography on the back, listing him as J.D., J.B., or J.B/D with the ‘B/D’ an overstrike combination of the two letters. Instead of 221 cards, an actual master set (short of collecting every single back) may easily top 230.
After all, who can tell how many others exist?