" The Monster" celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.
You had to be dedicated–and a big time letter writer–to complete the T206 set prior to the internet’s mainstream arrival in the 1990s.
500+ cards and not exactly peeking out from every corner. It’s easier now, although "easier" is most decidedly a relative term. The set referred to as "The Monster" for its size, age and cache of very expensive, very rare cards is now within reach if you have the means. The good thing about the set, though, is that you don’t really have to own the whole thing to participate in the T206 world.
Most people realize how hard it is to actually put a complete set together and many collectors feel privileged to own just a few. Or maybe a special Hall of Famer or two. It’s always been popular but we’re betting 2009 will be a special year for the iconic set issued by the American Tobacco Company.
The set celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. The first cards rolled off company presses late in 1909 and while the card companies may produce an ode or two to commemorate the occasion, it’s possible the issue could be feted by more than just the collecting community.
Look for some mainstream media outlets to discover the fact that the set which gave us the ‘holy grail’ of baseball cards, the T206 Honus Wagner, is now a centenarian. It is a pretty cool little piece of Americana and when a card from the set sells for a splashy price at auction, it’s sure to generate added attention. Even big league teams with savvy marketing departments may hop on the bandwagon with their own little tributes.
Publicity drives the market and shrewd business people are now figuring out a way to utilize the anniversary (which actually runs through 2011) to their advantage. Another high dollar Wagner sale will generate added publicity and so should the rare sale of the Doyle variation, which carries an error card story of its own en route to what will almost certainly be a record-setting price paid when it’s sold by Robert Edward Auctions this spring.
What might attract die-hard but non-collecting baseball fans to the T206 over the next several months is the knowledge that not only is it possible to own a 100 year-old baseball card but that it’s possible to own one without taking out a second mortgage. You might not be able to own Honus Wagner in a PSA 2 grade for $175,000 but you can own a Heinie Wagner for less than thirty bucks. You can dabble in the non-Hall of Fame stars for around $100-200 in lesser condition. Even a lower grade Lajoie, Tinker or Rube Marquard is attainable for less than what many spend on a 2009 box of super premium cards.
Like any vintage baseball card set, average fans can join collectors in pursuit of team sets, select Hall of Famers, future Black Sox (Eddie Cicotte anyone?) or poetry subjects (Tinker, Evers and Chance are all in the set and not difficult to find or prohibitively expensive). And while you’re at it, grab Harry Steinfeldt too.