The 1910 T210 Old Mill set is one of the more unique tobacco card sets around. And while many of the players are unknown to today’s collectors, the issue is heavily pursued and includes a Holy Grail of sorts.
T210 Old Mill Basics
Many collectors unfamiliar with the release would be surprised to learn that the T210 Old Mill set is such a massive issue. In all, the set is made up of eight subsets and a grand total of nearly 650 cards. It contains more than 100 cards more than the mammoth T206 release.
Like the T212 Obak issues, these cards featured minor league players. The cards were printed in 1910 and each of the eight subsets actually represents a different league (Atlantic League, Blue Grass League, Carolina Association, East Carolina League, Southern Association, Texas League, Virginia League, and Virginia Valley League).
Some of these leagues were featured in other card sets so some of the players found here will be recognized by pre-war collectors. The 1910 A.W.H. Caramels set (E222), for example, also featured Virginia League players. In addition, several T206 Southern League subjects are found here, too.
Despite the various leagues and subsets, the cards generally all have the same look with a black and white picture of a player inside of a bright red border. The set, in fact, is often nicknamed the Red Borders issue. The cards were distributed with Old Mill cigarette products and bear an Old Mill advertisement on the back. Backs include the series number and the same type of layout as seen on the Old Mill cards in the T206 set.
Joe Jackson and Casey Stengel
While a few notable players exist in the set, the key card here is clearly the minor league issue of the famous Shoeless Joe Jackson.
Jackson’s E90-1 American Caramel card is most commonly cited as his rookie issue as a professional player but his T210 Old Mill card features him as a minor leaguer with New Orleans after he had already made his pro debut. While Jackson played sparingly in the majors in 1908 and 1909 with the Philadelphia Athletics, he played the majority of those seasons in the minors and that was where he started off in 1910 as well.
Jackson’s presence in this set has drastically increased its profile over the years and his T210 issue is one of the most expensive cards in the hobby.
Jackson’s card isn’t the only high-dollar one, though. Also featured in the set is legendary manager Casey Stengel. Even though Stengel was a modest player, he had a world class managing career leading him to the Hall of Fame as he won seven World Series’ with the New York Yankees.
One of the strange phenomenon in the set is the presence of orange-bordered cards. These are the same as regular cards but have distinctly orange borders (and to some degree, some are even a bit yellowish) instead of red ones. Orange bordered cards are known to be found in the Series 3 subset.
The reason for the orange borders remains a mystery to this day. Some have theorized that they are the result of red ink simply running low in the printing process. Others have wondered if they were a test run of sorts. Whatever the reason, the orange border cards are out there and are very desirable.
T210 Old Mill Prices
Despite the fact there are so many cards in the set, they are not abundantly available. To date, only about about 6,500 total cards have been graded by both PSA and SGC.
Mid-grade commons generally start around $50-$75 and even low-end commons still manage to fetch $20 or so. Some players that appeared in the T206 set and are a little more popular can command more, depending on the player and the grade. The cards with the orange borders sell for a premium. Even low-grade examples, such as this one, often sell for a couple hundred dollars.
That Jackson card? Even at the low-end, it’s a six-figure card. An SGC 30 sold for nearly $120,000 in 2013. There’s a PSA Authentic example listed on eBay now. And while Stengel’s card doesn’t rival Jackson’s, it is still virtually a five-figure issue. An SGC 30 sold in a 2016 for nearly $9,500.
A few hundred T210 cards are currently on eBay.