The T211 Red Sun set is known for its rather unique look. Produced smack dab at the height of popularity for tobacco issues, the set found a way to stand out from others. Here’s a closer look at this rare release.
T211 Red Sun Overview
The first thing collectors usually notice about the T211 Red Sun cards is their unique look. While the overall design was similar in appearance to other tobacco and caramel cards of the era, some distinctive colors make it one of a kind.
The design on the fronts features black and white pictures, which made them different than other popular sets, such as T206. Unlike that issue and others with white borders, though, the T211 cards were printed with olive green borders. Player names and team names are printed at the bottom. The backs are something to behold as well. While many tobacco backs were relatively simple, the Red Sun back has a brightly-colored red-ink advertisement for Red Sun Cigarettes.
The set featured minor league players in the Southern Association and was released in 1910. The cards share the same measurements as many other tobacco issues, checking in at 1 1/2″ wide x 2 5/8″ tall.
As mentioned, the set features minor leaguers from the famed Southern Association league. To many collectors, the names may not be too familiar. Collectors of pre-war cards, however, will recognize many of them. Several of the players included found their way into the T206 set. There, of course, they were in the Southern League subset.
While the cards have some similarities with the T206 release, they are most often linked to the T210 Old Mill set. Ironically, they stand next to each other in Jefferson Burdick’s American Card Catalog list of designations.
The design of the card fronts, is eerily similar in both sets. Both issues relied upon the black and white pictures and a uniquely-colored border. The lone difference between the two, really, is merely the color of the borders. While the T211 Red Sun borders were olive green, those in the T210 set are red.
The set also shares a tie with the T210 Old Mill cards in that many of the players were also featured in the eighth and final series of the T210s. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise since both sets were issued in the same year and that eighth series in the T210 issue features Southern Leaugers as well. The T211 Red Sun issue has a shorter checklist (75 cards to 114 in T210), though, and the biggest disappointment by far is the exclusion of the biggest T210 prize – Shoeless Joe Jackson’s minor league card.
Curiously, it appears like more cards were planned to be issued since the cards state that they are part of the ‘First Series.’ However, no others were ever printed. It is possible that the issue was expected to take a similar approach to the T210 cards but perhaps not. Red Sun Cigarettes were produced in New Orleans, so the Southern Association link made sense. The T210 series featured minor league players in different parts of the country.
T211 Red Sun prices are relatively uniform primarily because there are no major stars in the set. Several players did reach the major leagues but the set isn’t filled with stars and big names. While uniform, prices are steep on these because of their rarity. By comparison, they are much harder to find than T210 cards, T206 cards, and many other tobacco issues. On eBay, you will usually only find them in very small quantities and sometimes, not at all.
Finding these cards in any condition is difficult and it is even harder to get them in mid-grade shape. They do, however, surface on occasion. There are no real ‘stars’ to be had and most will start around $350-$450 in mid-grade condition. Even poor graded cards often sell for $200 or more.