Sports Collectors Daily

A Taste of Hobby’s Top T206 Collection

It’s the greatest T206 baseball card collection ever assembled.  With over 5,000 different player/back combinations out of 5,257 known, David Hall’s assemblage ranks as one of the hobby’s most remarkable achievements.  Later this week, a few of the rarest cards in the $10 million collection will be on display at the Long Beach Expo.

Hall, the President of Collectors Universe, began attacking the T206 set with a vengeance just nine years ago, chasing not only each of the more than 500 subjects in the famous tobacco issue, but each of the different advertising backs.  No other collector as assembled even 3,000 different. 

T206 Hall of Famer Heaven

The collection includes 55 Ty Cobb cards (out of 57 possible), all 31 Walter Johnson possibilities, 40 out of 41 Christy Mathewson, 38 out of a possible 39 Cy Young cards and two of the four possible rare Eddie Plank variations.

“I was an animal about this,” he joked.  “The dealers found out and would offer me cards. I advertised to buy and would go to the National and look at everyone’s cards.  Everyone knew.  I had a bit of a target on my back.”

Hall owns a rare 150/30 Sweet Caporal Honus Wagner, trimmed but authentic, a rare T206 Cobb with Cobb back (along with the finest known Cobb tobacco tin, purchased for $88,000 in 2012).  

Hall’s entire collection has been graded by PSA and includes five mint 9s, two 8.5s, 134 8s and 423 graded 7 or 7.5.  He has 235 Hall of Famers rated 7 or better. 

All For One

He also owns dozens of scarce Broad Leaf, Drum, Uzit, Black and Brown Lenox and Red Hindu backed cards. Sixteen of his Drum backs are considered one-of-a-kind and many of the Brown Leaf 460s and Brown Lenox have a population of just one or two.

Hall has been known to buy huge lots and even a near set to obtain just one or two cards he needs. In 2012, he spotted a Wildfire Schulte front view, Piedmont 350 at Robert Edward Auctions.  It was the only one known and the rarest of the 12 Piedmont 350 rarities. Trouble was, the card was part of a near complete set of 517 cards consigned by long-time collector Joe Pelaez that REA was offering as one lot.  Hall bought the entire set for $44,438 just to get the Schulte card, then returned the rest of the set, minus a couple of other minor cards, to REA to sell in their next auction.

Along the way, Hall also acquired 52 “discovery” cards, the first examples of a certain back to be confirmed. 

He even has a nearly complete collection of original packs and boxes (missing only Hindu and Uzit) from the American Tobacco Company products that held T206 cards in their packages from 1909-1911.

The Expo

Hall said he’s hoping that the Expo will give collectors a chance to learn “how much fun T206s are” even if you don’t have the disposable income to build a collection like his. His advice?  “Do your homework and buy what you like,” he stated. “With the internet, prices are pretty transparent now.  Don’t buy what someone else tells you to buy. Just buy what you enjoy.”

While he’s had fun building the unprecedented collection, Hall says he may be coming to the end of his run as the king of the white bordered tobacco cards. Having gotten to a point where adding to it has become nearly impossible, he’s pondered putting the entire collection up for sale.

The show, which runs Thursday-Saturday, June 8-10, will also feature 16 baseballs from another collector’s rare set of 175 different Hall of Famers valued at over $1.6 million.  The collection, which has never been previously on display, includes Frank “Home Run” Baker, Roberto Clemente, Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson and other legends.

David Hall, President of Collectors Universe.

Hall will be at the show to talk about his varied collections, which also include the only known set of Elvis Presley Sun promo records. An expert in rare coins as well, Hall will discuss those during “Meet the Expert” sessions that will be conducted from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, June 8 and Friday, June 9, and from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 10.  

Show hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Thursday to Friday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. The Long Beach Expo will take place at the Long Beach Convention Center, located at 100 South Pine Ave, Long Beach, CA.              

Admission is $8 for adults, $4 for seniors and children aged 8 to 16; however, free admission coupons are available in advance online with the proper promotion code. To get free tickets, visit the show’s website, select ‘Get Passes,’ and enter the promo code: EXPOPR.