The T206 Harris Collection
Written by Laguna Niguel (SportsCardsPlus - July 13, 2000)
Legendary T206 White Bordered Baseball Card Set to be Auctioned off
When speaking of the finest sets ever produced there are several that come
to mind; the 1915 Cracker Jack's, the 1933 Goudey's, and the 1952
Topps. However, there is one set that stands just a little bit higher,
rests just a little closer to true collectors' hearts, and has that simply
legendary awe inspiring status. That set is the T206 White Bordered
set produced by various brands of the American Tobacco Trust from 1909 to 1911.
That set is simply amazing and the one completed by collector Kirk Harris is of the finest
quality ever assembled. The
T206 set was a landmark, being the first set of its size (over 500 cards) that was
produced in color. It was also the first in the 20th century to contain
nearly all the players of most of the major league
teams of the era. The artwork on these cards is simply beautiful. Add the fact that
the cards are almost 100 years old and you have two of the biggest reasons for
this issues' unmatched popularity.
Included in the set are over 70 Hall of Famers with names like Cobb, Johnson, Lajoie,
Mathewson, Plank, Speaker, and Young.
The announcement of the collection going up for auction by SportsCards Plus from Laguna
will have the hobby all a buzz. Never before has a collection of this size and
magnitude been sold all at once in an auction format. The bidding on these cards
is definitely going to be
the most competitive the hobby has ever witnessed as the stature and rarity
of these cards are sure to bring never before seen price tags. Harris, who is
in the business of manufacturing and classic car parts, made
the difficult decision to put the cards up for auction. "It was clear to me
that after talking to David (Kohler) here at SportsCards Plus, the timing
was right," explained Harris. "It was a tough decision, but
I have enjoyed this set for years. Now it's time to let others enjoy
the cards that have brought me so much joy. Very few people have seen
them so Iím sure they will get a lot of attention."
Harris started the collection many years ago with the purchase of his first T206 card.
It was of Miller Huggins and only in
VG-EX condition. The interesting design and the story behind the card
are what got Harris' attention. Harris explained, "Huggins would
end up managing Babe Ruth years later in New York. No one can forget
the story of Ruth picking up and holding Huggins off the end of a train after
an argument between the two. Huggins would end up fining Ruth $5,000 which was
a huge amount of money for that time period."
It was stories such as these that fueled Harris's desire to collect the legendary set.
While most collect the T206
according to their fronts and some more adventurous types try to collect them
according to their backs Harris collected his set based on the pure
quality of the cards. "I wasn't concerned with the player at the time,
I just wanted the highest quality I could find," explained Harris. And find them he did.
All the cards in this set are graded by Professional Sports Authenticators
(PSA), the industry leader in the grading of sports
cards. PSA uses a ten point scale. and while cards in a "6" (EX-MT) or "7"
(NRMT) holder are very nice cards, especially from such an old set like the
T206's, Harris wanted more. "Even if I had a particular example already, I
would always upgrade because I wanted the best.I went to shows, talked to
all the key dealers and told them to call me when they got in any PSA 8's
or 9's. After the legendary T206 "Southern Find," where several hundred
high grade T206 cards were found together, it was SportsCards Plus that came
through for me and helped me build this set."
SportsCards Plus helped out Harris by being able to purchase the famous Copeland
or McNall/Gretzky set that was auctioned
through Butterfield and Butterfield. This allowed Harris to be able to sort
through the set and find the cards he needed to complete and upgrade his
collection. The set Harris was able to put together is the
finest collection of T206 cards ever assembled. The average grade for the Harris
collection is an astonishing PSA 8 (NM-MT) with only a few cards being lower than
a PSA 7. Some of these are in the set
because they have the extremely rare Hindu tobacco backs. To give you a feel of
the magnitude and quality of this collection you need only look at the numbers.
75% of the cards in the set are the highest known graded. 42% of all the graded
PSA 9's are in the collection while 22% of all the PSA 8's reside here.
The first T206 to be graded a perfect, Gem Mint 10 also belongs to this set.
32 Hall of Famers rate Mint 9's including such stars as Cobb (bat on shoulder),
Mathewson (portrait), Mathewson (white cap), and Johnson (portrait).
What are Harris' favorite cards from this amazing pre-war collection? When asked,
Harris had difficulty narrowing it down
to just a few. "With almost 100 graded Mint "9"s and nearly 350 graded "8" it
is nearly impossible to have an exact favorite. However, three of the Cobb cards
do stand out in my mind," said Harris. "The bat off shoulder Cobb, in a Mint PSA "9"
is outstanding. The designers must have really liked Cobb because the colors on this
card are amazing. Then there is the green background portrait of Cobb. That one, a
PSA "8" (NM-MT) is razor sharp with a very deep green color. Finally, the bat
on-shoulder Cobb is just a razor. It is graded "8" but it's extremely high-end, it looks mint!"
There were many other Harris was extremely fond of but none more so that the Christy
Mathewson portrait. "He was a real
gentleman and his life ended so tragically," explained Harris. Mathewson, after
serving in World War I and ingesting mustard gas in a training maneuver, died a
few years later. The card of Mathewson is amazing
and is graded Mint "9" by PSA. You almost can't believe your eyes when you see it.
Another one that deserves a lot of attention is the Eddie Plank rarity. That one is
graded "7" (NM) by PSA but, let me
tell you, it has the eye appeal of a "10". The picture really jumps out at you and
is only one of three examples to reach that grade."
This set is held in such high regard that for the first time ever PSA has pedigreed
an entire collection. Each card that is
to be auctioned off will have "T206 Harris Collection" on the top of the card
holder. This sports card industry first will give collectors a little piece on
the history of where their cards came from.
The collection will be auctioned off by SportsCards Plus this summer over a two day
period on August 9 and 10. All we can
do now is give Kirk a few more months to enjoy his collection and wait for the
dog days of summer to roll in before we witness one of the most colossal auctions
ever in the sports cards industry!
Periodicals - Harris Collection