The 1912 T227 Series of Champions issue was a set of 25 cards honoring some of the top athletes in their sports. Here’s a closer look at this unique tobacco issue.
The T227 Series of Champions set was a small release issued with Miners Extra and Honest Long Cub tobacco products. In terms of appearance, this set is a little different from other tobacco issues of the time period. Most of those were smaller with more of an elongated rectangular shape. T227 cards were larger and bear a much closer resemblance to modern era trading cards. At approximately 2 1/4″ x 3 5/8″ in size, they are not quite as large as today’s standard issues. However, they have much more of a square shape and similar dimensions.
The card fronts were basic but appealing. Each card included a high quality color lithograph picture of an athlete with only his name printed. The backs were also different from many other tobacco cards in that they included a long player biography to go along with a short ad for the tobacco brand. Most other tobacco card backs included no such writeup, presenting only an advertisement for a particular brand, a short description of a particular set, or other information. The T227 series was unique in that the cards focused much more on the athletes and much less on the advertising.
T227 Baseball Players
In all, 25 cards were advertised as comprising a complete set (more on that in a bit). Baseball was represented fairly well in the issue with four cards. That might not seem like a lot but the only other sport with as many cards was boxing. Other sports in the set include golf, auto racing, and more.
The baseball cards are undoubtedly the most important in the entire set. They have the greatest significance to most collectors not only because of their sport but the high quality of players that were included. Ty Cobb leads the way but all four players (Cobb, Home Run Baker, Chief Bender, and Rube Marquard) are baseball Hall of Famers.
In addition to the baseball players, one other big name in the set exists in boxing legend Jack Johnson. His cards command prices on the level of the non-Cobb baseball cards.
Card No. 25?
While 25 cards are advertised in the set, the greatest mystery surrounding this release is that, to date, only 24 have been discovered. The cards are rare, (some even exceedingly so – Bruce Brown and C.P. Rodgers have a combined four graded copies from PSA to date) so it is possible that a 25th was indeed printed and simply has not yet surfaced to date. But given that a decent number of copies do exist for most cards the lack of a 25th card to date is certainly surprising.
Other pre-war sets had similar absences. However, many of those have occurred when companies ran promotions where collectors could redeem cards. One card in the set was often printed in very low quantities to prevent many sets from being redeemed. No known redemption program existed for the T227 set, though. It is possible (some might even say, probable) that a 25th card was never printed.
T227 Series of Champion Pricing
These cards are scarce and, as a result, somewhat pricey additions. Even commons in lesser sports fetch over $100 if in decent condition. The bigger names and baseball players, of course, warrant more attention. A PSA 3 Jack Johnson recently fetched more than $1,200 on eBay, which is slightly more than what the non-Cobb baseball players would generally command. Cobb’s card, as it is in many other sets where he has a presence, is king here. In even lesser Good condition, graded have earned sellers approximately $4,000 – $5,000. A PSA 6 in 2015 sold for more than $20,000.
You can see 1912 T227 Series of Champions cards on eBay by clicking here.