T206 Complete Set: Tackling the Monster on a Budget

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So you’re thinking about starting a collection of T206 baseball cards without ending up in the poor house? First of all, congratulations. These old cards are one of the most sought after collectibles around.

Manufactured by the American Tobacco Company from 1909-1911, the set features major and minor league players, including the infamous T206 Honus Wagner, easily the rarest of the group, bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars and up at auction, depending on condition. But, if your goals (and your budget) are a little more modest than that, there are some great places to start and tips that will keep your collection.

Decide why you want to begin collecting. If you’re doing it out of pleasure, there are several reprint editions available that are more affordable (complete sets for around $40). Collectors who want the real thing will likely have to accept lower grade cards. T206 cards in VG condition are still reasonably priced and you can make a run at the set without breaking the bank. By spending $30 or so per common card, you’ll get a decent looking example and build a nice grouping of cards before you know it.

If you’re buying ungraded cards at sports card shows, consider investing in a high powered magnifier and take a look at the lettering. Authentic cards are printed in deep brown, solid lettering while reprints are done in micro-dots that make up each letter. Authentic T206’s have a solid black pinstripe backing with a white border around the picture. If the pinstripes appears to made of tiny dots under a magnifier, bring in a professional to look to it over or don’t spend your money. Also, the first letters in the name, league and team are larger than the remaining letters on the real T206’s.

Sports card shops, sports collectible conventions and websites like T206Baseball and Sports Collectors Daily are great places to start looking. EBay is another great source, but when you do your search, make sure you do word exclusions like “-reprint”, “-rp” or “-topps” (an anniversary tribute edition) to take you straight to what you want.

Keep in mind there are authentication services like SGC and PSA. They offer safety when shopping thanks to their expertise, but those cards will be a tad more expensive. For many, it’s worth it because of the peace of mind.

Is it impossible to assemble a T206 complete set? No, but be prepared for a long haul. And it’s certainly possible you’ll never be able to afford the four most rare cards in the hobby. Many consider the set complete at 520 cards and that’s a goal within reach if you’re patient. You’ll definitely enjoy the journey and learn a lot about early pro baseball along the way.

Source by JohnathanCovsney

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