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T206 is a legendary tobacco card set issued from 1909 to 1911 in cigarette and loose tobacco packs through 16 brands. It is a historically significant set in baseball card collecting because of its size, rarity, and the quality of its color for the era.

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While many cards in the set are easy to obtain, some are very scarce and almost mythical to card collectors. Here are 10 top cards from the legendary T206 baseball card set.

1. 1909-11 T206 Ty Cobb Red Portrait

This is one of the most legendary cards featured in the T206 set. It features a portrait of Ty Cobb in his grey Detroit Tigers uniform. Cobb is a legendary figure in baseball and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as part of its first class. On the card, you can see him gazing to the left with his hair parted and the Tigers’ logo on his chest. The portrait has a stunning red background that stands out for its quality and boldness.

Flipping over the card, you can see it was sold in a Sovereign Cigarettes pack. It has the slogan “Fit For A King,” which is fitting considering Ty Cobb reigned as the most prolific hitter in Major League Baseball for decades. Below that it reads, “Base Ball Series 350 Subjects.” Finally, at the bottom of the card, it has the address where it was printed.

Only 25 Sovereign copies of this Red Cobb card exist in the PSA population, making it one of the rarest and most prestigious cards on the market.

2. Honus Wagner T206 Tobacco Card

The T206 Honus Wagner tobacco card is one of the rarest and most valuable baseball cards in the world. The card features Honus Wagner, known as “The Flying Dutchman,” a player from the dead-ball era who is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. Part of the reason this card is so valuable is very few were ever produced. Wagner refused to allow the production of his card to continue. His reasons are mostly lost to history, although most people suspect it was either because he did not want children buying cigarette packs to get his card, or he wanted more compensation from the American Tobacco Company. When production ended on his card, only 50 to 200 cards were ever distributed to the public (the exact number is unknown).

The card itself features a portrait of Honus Wagner in his Pittsburgh Pirates uniform. You can see it written across the chest of his uniform, although you’ll notice the “H” is missing. This is because the city of Pittsburgh was spelled as Pittsburg until 1911. The portrait of Wagner has a bold orange background.

The back of the card features a red border and lettering. It reads, “Sweet Caporal Cigarettes,” followed by the slogan, “The Standard for Years.” The bottom section of the cards reads “Base Ball Series 150 Subjects.” Finally, the bottom of the card has the production location.

Since this card is so rare, it is newsworthy whenever a copy is sold. Most recently, a copy was sold in 2022 in a private auction for $7.25 million.

3. Eddie Plank T206 Piedmont 1909-1911

The T206 Eddie Plank Piedmont card is another one of the most desirable cards from the famed set. It is the only pose of the Hall of Fame pitcher featured in the set. To this day, there is still no explanation for the rarity of the card. It is one of the cards in the T206 collection that can rival the rarity of the Honus Wagner card. The most prevalent theory is that the card suffered from a poor printing plate, which destroyed many cards. This theory is backed up by the fact that many of the known cards have poor centering from top to bottom. In some copies, the centering is so poor that it cuts into the text at the bottom. Only 50 to 75 copies exist today.

The card features Eddie Plank’s portrait in his Philadelphia Athletics uniform. Plank was the first left-handed pitcher to win 200 and 300 games. To this day, he ranks third in all-time wins by a left-handed pitcher with 326 victories. The portrait features Plank looking off to the right, a blue background, and a white border.

The back of the card features red writing with several phrases. From top to bottom, it reads, “Sweet Caporal Cigarettes,” “The Standard for Years,” and “Base Ball Series 350 Subjects.”

4. 1909-11 T206 Walter Johnson Hands At Chest Sweet Caporal

The T206 collection has several cards featuring Walter “The Big Train” Johnson, but the copy with his hands at his chest is the most popular. Walter Johnson is widely regarded as one of the greatest pitchers of all time. To this day, he still sits second in wins with 417, and fourth in complete games with 531. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame as one of its First Five along with Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, and Christy Matthewson.

The card features Johnson with a White top and cap. His hands are at his chest, with his right hand holding the ball in his gloved left hand. He is looking to the right side of the card as he poses and gets ready for a pitch. He is in his Washington Senators uniform and there is a blue background that looks like the sky. The back of the card features the same red writing and border we described in the Eddie Plank card.

5. 1909-11 T206 Christy Mathewson HOF Portrait Piedmont 150

Christy Mathewson is another member of the First Five, and as a result, this card is one of the most sought-after copies in the T206 set. Known as “The Gentleman’s Hurler,” Matthewson was one of the most dominant pitchers in history and ranks in the top 10 in several key pitching categories. His card is a portrait of him in his white New York Giants uniform. There is a big, red “N.Y.” logo on the front of the uniform. Matthewson is gazing towards the right side of the card and you can see some red flush in his cheeks. The background of the portrait is yellow for the top three-quarters of the portrait and then transitions into orange and red for the bottom quarter. The card also has a white border.

On the back of the card, there is a blue crest and writing. The top of the crest features the phrase, “Base Ball Series 150 Subjects. The middle reads, “Piedmont,” and the bottom reads, “The Cigarette of Quality.”

6. 1909-11 T206 Piedmont 350 Cy Young Cleveland Bare Hand Shows

Cy Young is a legendary figure in Major League Baseball. Most fans believe him to be one of the greatest pitchers of all time, and consider him a pioneer of modern pitching. He has the Cy Young Award named after him, which is awarded annually to the best pitcher in the two Major League Baseball leagues. There are three Cy Young cards in the T206 set, but the copy that shows his bare hands is the most popular. That said, all three cards are considered tougher to find than other Hall of Fame cards in the set, except for the super rare cards.

This card features an image of Cy Young at the end of his pitching motion. His body and head are mostly featured on the left side of the card. His right arm is out in front of him with his bare hand showing. He is wearing the grey uniform and cap of the Cleveland Naps. The card’s background is yellow and orange on the top, and green on the bottom. The portrait has a thin black border and then a much wider white border.

You can see a blue crest and lettering when you turn over the card. It is mostly the same as the Christy Mathewson card, except the top line reads, “Base Ball Series 350 Subjects.”

7. T206 Piedmont 350-460 Frank Chance

Frank Chance was a first baseman who primarily played for Chicago. None for his leadership abilities, he was nicknamed “Peerless Leader.” He also had a prolific managerial career and holds the all-time managerial winning percentage in Chicago Cubs history. Additionally, Cobb was a member of the 1908 Cubs team that won the World Series. Famously, the Cubs would not win another World Series for over 100 years.

His card in the T206 collection features Chance in his grey Cubs uniform and cap, and a long sleeve white shirt underneath that can be seen on the bottom parts of his arms. He is in a batting position, holding a brown bat behind his head as he gets ready to swing. He is looking towards the right side of the card. Additionally, the card has a yellow background on the top half, and green on the bottom. It has a white border.

The back of the card has a blue crest and writing. From top to bottom, the writing reads “New Base Ball Series 350-460 Subjects,” “Piedmont,” and “The Cigarette of Quality.”

8. 1909-11 T206 Nap Lajoie Portrait Cleveland Naps Piedmont

The next card features Nap Lajoie, a member of the Cleveland Naps who dominated alongside Cy Young. He led the American League in batting average five times in his career, and four times had the highest number of hits. Known as The Frenchman, Lajoie was one of several dozen former National League players who joined the upstart American League in 1901.

His T206 card features Lajoie shortly after throwing a ball. He is front-facing in the image with his right arm outstretched after releasing the ball. You can see his left arm dangling on the side with a small sliver of his glove in the bottom right before it’s cut off. He is wearing his grey Cleveland uniform, but most of the logo is cut off because he is wearing a lighter grey jacket. The only letters showing are “VEL” and part of the “A.” Lajoie is also wearing a great cap. Additionally, the card features a yellow and orange sky as the top half of the background and green grass on the bottom half. There is a thin black border around the portrait, and then a thick white border around the rest of the card.

The back of the card features a blue crest and writing like all other Piedmont cards in the collection. The writing is as follows, “Base Ball Series 150 Subjects,” “Piedmont,” and “The Cigarette of Quality.”

9. 1909 T206 Eddie Collins Piedmont

Eddie Collins was a second baseman nicknamed “Cocky” because of his incredible ability to steal bases. He was also a prolific hitter, becoming the sixth person to join the 3000 hit club. He was the only player to be a part of all five championships won by the Philadelphia Athletics.

His card features a portrait of Collins’ from his first stint with the Athletics. He is wearing the white uniform of the Athletics, with a big black A on the right side of his uniform. You can see his bright blonde hair and rosy cheeks in the image. The card has a bold red background and a white border.

The back of the card is the same as all other Piedmont cards with its blue lettering and crest. The only difference is the top section reads, “Base Ball Series 350 Subjects.”

10. 1909-11 T206 Tris Speaker Boston Red Sox Piedmont

The final card from the T206 set we want to look at today is of Tris Speaker, “The Gray Eagle.” Considered one of the greatest players of all time, Speaker ranks in the top 10 for batting average, doubles, and hits. He was also a prolific defender in the outfield, known for his ability to create double plays.

Speaker’s card in the T206 collection features him getting ready to swing a brown bat as a pitch comes in. He is wearing a white uniform and cap. The uniform reads “Boston” across the front in big red letters. Speaker is facing the left side of the card as he gets ready to swing his bat. The card has a bold blue background and a white border.

On the back of the card, you will find that it looks exactly the same as the Eddie Collins card.

Final Thoughts

The T206 collection is arguably the most prestigious set for baseball card collectors. It’s popular because it has a massive collection of vintage cards and is a gateway to the golden era of baseball. Known as “The Monster,” it is a collector’s treasure trove. It features some of the rarest cards in the collecting world, including the Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, and Eddie Plank cards we looked at above. Collecting is all about getting your hands on the rarest cards you can. Although many of these cards are outside the price range for most people, it’s still fun to look at the rarest and most valuable cards in the world.

About the Author

Cardboard Vice

I'm always buying: 2011 Mike Trout Topps Update, Ty Cobb T206, and 1989 Ken Griffey Jr. Upper Deck Star Rookie. PSA 10 only. I also enjoy no limit poker and horse racing.

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