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Old 05-19-2017, 11:41 PM
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David Kathman
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Default Hobby history: The first T206 checklist, 1941

In its early years (1939-1944), much of the content of The Card Collector's Bulletin consisted of checklists. The organized hobby was still in its infancy, and a big part of what Jefferson Burdick and his fellow pioneers were doing was simply figuring out what was out there to collect. The 1939 American Card Catalog was a first attempt at listing all the card sets that had been issued in the U.S., but Burdick knew that it was incomplete, and one of the purposes of the early Card Collector's Bulletins was documenting additions and corrections to the Catalog. Another purpose was compiling and printing checklists, so that collectors could know which cards were in each set. The first 30 issues of CCB included checklists for 181 different sets, an average of 6 per issue, and these were essentially all new to the hobby.

Among those 181 checklists were a couple of dozen baseball card sets, including the most important gum card sets of the 1930s, a very basic Old Judge checklist, and the tobacco sets we know as T201 through T212. Apart from T200 (which did not need a checklist because it just contained cards of the 16 major league teams), those were the only small-sized 20th century tobacco baseball card sets that Burdick knew of in 1939, since the New Orleans sets (T213 through T216) had not yet been differentiated from T206. Here is the page of the 1939 United States Card Catalog (as it was officially known) with the 20th century tobacco cards having sports subjects. As you can see, 515 through 526 correspond to T200 through T211, with 595 corresponding to T212. I don't know why Burdick had the numbers skip around like that; the system we know, which he introduced in the 1946 edition of the American Card Catalog, makes more sense, even with its own arbitrary elements.



Card Collector's Bulletin #4 (February 1, 1940) had checklists of sets 520 (T205) and 517 (T202); issue #5 had 522 (T207); and issue #7 had 516 (T201). I will eventually post all of those, but right now I'm going to post Burdick's checklist for set #521, which we know as T206. I'm fairly certain that this is the first published checklist of that set, though I don't doubt that some advanced collectors had their own personal lists. It took up eight pages, and because that was almost as much as an entire issue of CCB, Burdick split the checklist across four issues, from #10 (February 1, 1941) through #13 (August 1, 1941). Those eight pages are below, in order, with marks here and there by John D. Wagner, the original owner. The introduction notes that Lionel Carter provided "extensive assistance" and discusses the four series (150, 350, 350-460, and Assorted). The last page is a surprisingly sophisticated summary of the backs, as originally compiled by Howard M. Meyers in May 1938. He even included red Hindu and Piedmont Factory 42, though this list also includes the nonexistent (for T206) Hustler back. Apart from the fact that he didn't distinguish between Sovereign 350 forest/apple green and American Beauty 350 with/without frame, the only backs he's missing are the ultra-rare ones -- Broad Leaf 460, brown Lenox, brown Old Mill, and Ty Cobb.

After the checklist, I've posted a couple of other articles of interest that appeared in CCB during this period. The first one is an item by John D. Wagner from the October 1, 1941 issue, in which he describes meeting Honus Wagner on August 12, 1941 and asking him about the scarcity of the T206 Wagner, to which Honus replied that "he would not let them put his picture on such cards because he did not think an athlete should smoke". This story was told by John Wagner numerous times in later years, with slight variations, but here we have a contemporary account, published within a couple of months of the event.

The last item below is from an article by Burdick in the February 1, 1943 CCB (#22), "More Notes on U.S. Tobacco Card Values". While the 1939 catalog had given a blanket value of 2 cents a card for #521 (T206), with no mention of rare cards or series, here Burdick gives values of 15 cents each for Southern Leaguers and $2.00 each for Plank and Wagner. I'm not 100% certain, but I think this is the first time that anybody had given a value for those two cards. In the 1946 American Card Catalog, Burdick would give a value of $10 for Wagner but keep Plank at $2.










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Old 05-20-2017, 12:05 AM
sreader3 sreader3 is offline
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Great stuff David.

The checklist indicates that many of the Elite 150/350 subjects were thought at the time to be 150-only subjects, which is unsurprising given how hard they are to find today with Piedmont 350.

Also, several false positives in this checklist seem to have spilled over to Heitman's a few decades later -- such as Ames (Hands at Chest), Doyle (Throwing) and Latham with 350 backs. I suppose it's possible that these f/b combos existed circa 1940 and were later lost or destroyed but that seems unlikely.

Last edited by sreader3; 05-20-2017 at 12:21 AM.
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Old 05-20-2017, 08:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sreader3 View Post
Great stuff David.

The checklist indicates that many of the Elite 150/350 subjects were thought at the time to be 150-only subjects, which is unsurprising given how hard they are to find today with Piedmont 350.

Also, several false positives in this checklist seem to have spilled over to Heitman's a few decades later -- such as Ames (Hands at Chest), Doyle (Throwing) and Latham with 350 backs. I suppose it's possible that these f/b combos existed circa 1940 and were later lost or destroyed but that seems unlikely.
Hi Scot, I think some of these errors are the result of a mix up of a player
or pose, we have seen many of these errors in f/b surveys.

With the Ames I have often thought that someone got him mixed up with
Matty (White Cap), Similar pose and the same team.
Ames HAC.jpg
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Old 05-20-2017, 08:58 AM
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His list of 521) White border backs includes " Hustler". What is that?
Oops, should have read further....
very interesting stuff and seems to close the door on the Wagner issue regarding his view on smoking and his T206 rareity

Last edited by Stonepony; 05-20-2017 at 09:05 AM. Reason: poorly attentive
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Old 05-20-2017, 09:16 AM
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His list of 521) White border backs includes " Hustler". What is that?
Oops, should have read further....
very interesting stuff and seems to close the door on the Wagner issue regarding his view on smoking and his T206 rareity
Dave...I've got a bunch of these rare hustler backs...if you're interested!!!!
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Old 05-20-2017, 09:26 AM
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Dave...I've got a bunch of these rare hustler backs...if you're interested!!!!
LMAO... i had some in my closet but my mom threw them out when I went off to college
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Old 06-28-2017, 11:02 PM
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David Kathman
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Just a quick followup to this post from last month. In the original post, I included part of a February 1, 1943 Card Collector's Bulletin article by Jefferson Burdick on tobacco card values, in which he gave values of $2 for T206 Plank and Wagner, and 15 cents for Southern Leaguers. I said that as far as I knew, this was the first time anybody had given values for those cards in print, but I was wrong. I had overlooked a small item in the August 1, 1941 CCB (see the bottom of the page shown below), in which Burdick announced that this issue would contain the last part of his checklist of the white-bordered baseball cards (then #521, now T206), and added that Plank and Wagner were going for 50 cents to $1, and Southern Leaguers were going for 5 to 10 cents. So it appears that those cards had risen significantly in value by 1943, in line with the general rise in card prices during World War II, as I've written about elsewhere.

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