For more than 100 years, baseball fans and collectors have been enjoying what we now know as the T206 set. It’s full of famous names and not-so-famous names. Minor leaguers and big league legends. It also has its share of printing variations and scarcities (see Wagner, Honus). One of those is a relatively new discovery; sort of a ghost printing on the uniform of the Joe Tinker card. Only two were known until recently, but Robert Edward Auctions uncovered a third in a newly consigned collection that had been in a scrapbook for a century.
The printing error reveals two team names atop on Tinker’s jersey; “Cubs” is printed across the artist’s rendering of his flannel jersey, but if you look closely at the variation, the city name “Chicago” appears underneath. While the mystery died with the men who were involved in the printing process in 1909, it would seem as if the American Tobacco Company decided to go with the team nickname and tried rather unsuccessfully to fade the “Chicago” name from Tinker’s jersey. Since the majority of the Tinker cards don’t show the city name, it can reasonably be assumed that a better effort was made in a second printing and the ghost image disappeared for good.
We do know that a proof version of the T206 card of Frank Schulte exists with CHICAGO across the jersey, rather than the CUBS that showed up when the cards were actually printed, fueling the above theory.
The first Tinker variation was documented a couple of years ago by long-timer collector and historian Bob Lemke. Graded SGC 20, it sold for $33, 720 via Greg Bussineau Auctions in the summer of 2012. Another, also graded SGC 20, had been sold a few months earlier by for $18,960, perhaps demonstrating increasing interest among the most serious collectors of the T206 set. The newly discovered version is far more pleasing to the eye than either of those copies.
The card was owned by a non-collecting family who decided to sell the group of T206s that had been sitting in a scrapbook. The card grades 2.5 (Good+) because of the adhesive residue that remains on the back of the card after so many years mounted in the scrapbook. However, the front of the card looks almost new, with bold colors, bright white borders, sharp corners, and is well centered.
So how many of this variation are out there somewhere? It’s hard to say but the resulting publicity over the first two should have flushed out others and so far, has not. The current high bid is $4,750 but nine days still remain in REA’s Fall Auction.