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Early error cards still captivate veteran hobbyists

Written by Bob Lemke (SCD - Feb 12, 1999)

A number of vintage error cards have come to my attention in recent weeks, giving some indication that the hobby may now be leaning toward assignming more than curiosity value to them.

In the Sept. 18, 1998, issue we devoted space to the T206 "NODGRASS" error cards, being able to do little except catalog the existence of a pair of the cards. We now have been given confirmation of the existence of a third and fourth specimen. Sean Moore, president of Certified Sports Authentication (CSA), sent color copies of a "NODGRASS" in catching pose with a Polar Bear back, the third back advertisement seen. The other known catching-pose card has a Tolstoi back, while a batting-pose "NODGRASS" has a Sweet Caporal back.

Moore's firm has certified the Polar Bear cards's authenticity and given it a near-mint grade. The specimen was offered for auction on eBay in December. Nearly a dozen individuals ran the bidding on the card up to $2,551. However, that did not meet the seller's reserve. The card's owner told SCD he was looking for $5,000 for the card.

Assuming these were bidders knowledgeable about the relative rarities within T206, it would seem the hobby has placed the NODGRASS error about on a par with the more commmon "portrait/red, bat on/off shoulder" Ty Cobb cards in the set. This would put the error card among the top 10 T206 cards, pricewise.

Also on eBay was a striking T206 error card offering a card on which the color picture of George McBride (Washington) has been printed over a "ghost" image of Jimmy Jackson (Baltimore). The Jackson portrait exists on the card comprised only of the black-ink portions of the design. The card has a Sweet Caporal back and is very roughly cut, probably removed from a scrap sheet with a pair of scissors many years ago. A dozen different bidders took this error card to $255, where it was sold.

Another T206 error card, one which received considerable hobby prominence two decades ago, has also popped up at auction.

The Ron Oser Enterprises Dec. 19 auction which was offered as a color advertising supplement in SCD presented a specimen of the Bill Sweeney "no B" card. For many years, checklists of T206 carried this card as a variation - a rare and costly variation. It was gradually realized, however, that the cad was merely a printing error. The magenta ink which would have applied the "B" crest to Sweeney's cap and jersey and the piping to his collar and sleeves had never reached the cardboard, either because the ink font ran dry or something got between ink and card-board.

Oser cataloged the card as "an almost mythical rarity" and said it was only the second specimen he had ever seen in his lengthy hobby tenure. The card has an excellent-appearing fron and a Sweet Caporal back which displays glue residue and some paper loss due to previous mounting in a scrapbook. Carrying a $500 reserve price into the auction, the card sold for an astounding $4,071.

Logic dictates that other cards on the same press sheet as the "no B" Sweeney are also missing the magenta ink, but because of the particular placement of that color, it may be difficult to detect the error.


Variations - T206 Fred Snodgrass "Nodgrass"

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