Love of the Game Preview: “The Monster” T206 Set and More in November Auction

love9-2-14There are many popular card sets in the hobby, but few carry the mystique of T206 – the card issue nicknamed “The Monster” because of its difficulty to complete, and due as well as to its all-consuming nature. Starting a T206 set is an easy proposition – many, many collectors have started sets – the cards are easy to find (particularly in collector grades), and bargains on individual cards are common.

Completing a T206 set, however, is a different story – 70 Hall of Famers add considerable expense, while multiple player poses and variations, tough Southern Leaguers and difficult-to locate scarcities within the set create collecting challenges that eventually frustrate all but the most patient and passionate collectors to the point of abandonment. Certainly, the number of collectors who have completed a T206 set is just a fraction of the number who have started.

Presented here is the end of result of such an exercise in patience and diligence – a complete (save for the “big four” of Wagner and Plank, along with Magie and Doyle variations) set. Featuring 520 cards, all in collector grades, this is an exceptional collecting achievement, including the remaining tough variations, all the Hall of Famers, and the difficult Southern Leaguers.

T206 3While the great majority of the cards are ungraded (which, face it, is the best way to build this set), the set does contain 29 graded keys, from a mixture of grading companies. While there are a number of back varieties represented, the total number of cards with “tough” backs is just 59, with none more scarce than Cycle 460, as the collector of this set was more focused on completing the task than getting sidetracked by such things as difficult backs.

T206 5It is often stated that the greatest value in purchasing a complete T206 sit lies in its breakup value; acquiring 70 prewar Hall of Famers plus all the difficult Southern Leaguers, variations, and tough poses in one shot represents an excellent opportunity for a dealer to help multiple collectors with their own pursuits. However, it is our opinion that acquiring a complete set such as this affords the collector with an outstanding foundation on which to upgrade and improve, without the additional challenge of having to find all those tough variations.

The overwhelming majority of the cards in this collection reside at the lower end of the grading scale, with the graded examples representative of the set in its entirety. A condition breakdown of the graded cards is as follows:

SCD Authentic (1 card): EX 5: Kid Elberfeld (Washington); PSA VG-EX 4 (1 card): JJ Clarke (Cleveland); PSA VG 3 (1 card): George Mullin (Throwing) SGC VG 40 (4 cards): Frank Chance (Red Background), Willie Keeler (Portrait), Heinie Wagner (Bat On Right Shoulder); PSA VG 3 (MC): Joe Tinker (Bat On Shoulder); PSA GOOD 2 (4 cards): Walter Johnson (Hands at Chest), Nap Lajoie (Portrait), Rube Marquard (Hands at Thighs), Christy Mathewson (Dark Cap); SGC GOOD 30 (3 cards): George Brown (Washington), Christy Mathewson (Portrait), Shag Shaughnessy; SGC FAIR 20 (4 cards): Home Run Baker, Ray Demmitt (St. Louis), Hugh Duffy, Cy Young (Portrait); PSA PR 1 (5 cards): Ty Cobb (Red Background), Joe Doyle (NY), Christy Mathewson (White Cap), Joe Tinker (Portrait), Joe Tinker (Bat Off Shoulder); SGC POOR 10 (5 cards): Ty Cobb (Green Background), Walter Johnson (Portrait); Bill O’Hara (St. Louis), Cy Young (Bare Hand Shows); Cy Young (Glove Hand Shows) PSA PR-FR 1 (MK): Red Kleinow (Boston).

T206 6An overall breakdown of the set’s condition would be 8% VG or better; 18% GOOD; 30% FAIR; and 44% POOR with a few likely trimmed, as the cards do fall heavily on the “collector grade” end of the condition spectrum. As is frequent with cards of this era, many cards exhibit back damage from scrapbook removal in the form of glue and paper loss, and approximately 50 of the cards have small pencil notations on the card fronts, noting each player’s defensive position.

The set is presented lovingly in two binders; one containing four-pocket sheets for the graded cards and the other containing 15-pocket sheets for the ungraded cards. Many of the ungraded cards once resided in grading company holders; the original grading company “flip” has been carefully placed behind each card in its binder page. Spaces for the graded cards have been noted with paper inserts, and four blank spaces have been left in the binder for when the winning bidder acquires his Wagner, Doyle, Magie and Plank cards to complete the set.

Preview and register for the Love of the Game November 1st Premier Auction at

Charles Conlon’s 1933 Goudey Nap Lajoie

One of the greatest and most desirable cards in the entire hobby, the 1933 Goudey #106 Nap Lajoie is the result of one of the Goudey Gum Company’s many marketing gimmicks. Their wildly popular card set of 1933 was issued without a card #106, meaning that regardless of how many packs were purchased by kids looking to complete their set, it was an impossible task. Kids bought pack after pack, looking for that elusive card #106 to complete their sets, to no avail.

1933 Goudey Lajoie FrontA small number of hardcore collectors were undaunted, eventually writing the company to complain. For those collectors, Goudey in 1934 produced a special card of Hall of Famer Nap Lajoie, fulfilling their requests for a card #106 to complete their 1933 sets. The Lajoie was only distributed in this fashion, resulting in extraordinary scarcity in relation to its counterparts. Today, the card is considered one of the hobby’s most important, valuable, and highly sought-after cards, with an intense demand that will likely never exceed the supply.

This particular example has additional hobby significance in that it was once part of the collection of noted hobbyist Charles Conlon. Conlon, a well-known collector and dealer who passed away in 2008, was known as the “hoarder” of 1975 Topps Mini cards in Michigan. After Conlon passed in 2008, his substantial collection was sold at auction, with all proceeds going to a variety of charities. This example of the 1933 #106 Lajoie, one of the finest in the hobby, was part of Conlon’s collection. Initially submitted for grading in 2008, the card was resubmitted after SGC established half-grades at the upper end of the grading register, receiving the lofty grade of 82, along with the Conlon pedigree on the card label.

This is an extraordinary card, bright and clean with a bold, beautiful image and a remarkable lack of overall wear. The incredible rarity of this card, coupled with its difficulty in high grade, make this one of the most important and desirable cards in the hobby. Often considered one of the three or four most significant cards in collecting, this is one of the finest examples of one of the hobby’s truly great cards.

1933 Goudey Sport Kings Babe Ruth

In the entire sports collectibles hobby, there is not a name as popular or enduring as that of Babe Ruth. His image is still recognizable by youngsters more than sixty years after his passing, and his memorabilia and cards continue to scale new heights, with each major sale setting a new bar for his collectibles.

1933 SK Ruth SGC 88 FrontPresented is a splendid example of one of Ruth’s most beautiful cards, from one of the most attractive sportscard sets ever produced: his 1933 Goudey Sport Kings issue. The card boasts exceptional centering, vivid color and clean, fresh borders, with sharp, NM-MT corners.

The Sport Kings set is the hobby’s most popular multi-sport issue, with a wide variety of names that rank among the most popular of all-time in each respective sport. None, however, even approaches the popularity of Babe Ruth, undoubtedly the key card in the set. While MINT examples have eclipsed $100,000, the SMR value of a NM-MT card still remains “affordable” at $27,000. However, as the value of Ruth collectibles and cards continues to skyrocket, and the popularity of the Sport Kings set continues to grow, the availability of high-grade examples of Ruth’s colorful Goudey cards will continue to dwindle. With just eight examples graded higher by either PSA or SGC, and just one true NM-MT example having sold publicly since 2011, this is a superb example of one of the most popular issues to feature the hobby’s greatest and most widely-recognized name and face.

Preview and register for the Love of the Game November 1st Premier Auction at

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