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T206 Eddie Plank with Piedmont Back sold for $41,125

Robert Edward Auctions (May 8, 2011)

The T206 of Hall of Famer Eddie Plank has always been one of card collecting's greatest and most sought after rarities. Almost all examples of this card feature an advertisement for Sweet Caporal Cigarettes on the reverse. This is a very unusual T206 Plank card in that it is one of only three or four examples known to feature an advertisement for Piedmont Cigarettes on the reverse. This card has an interesting story. It was consigned by a noncollector family from north New Jersey, who contacted us at first with only this single card. The consignor was aware of its great rarity and value from preliminary research, though was understandably concerned about how its condition would affect value. The card is obviously trimmed and/or miscut. We should note that REA gets calls and e-mails, literally on a weekly basis, from noncollectors who believe they have an authentic T206 Plank, when they in fact have a reprint. This has been going on for years, because there are some T206 Plank reprints that state on the back of the card that Plank is rare and very valuable. So people are always finding these old reprints, reading the back, and then contacting us to sell them as if they were real cards. (We know that to collectors this doesn't sound like it makes sense, but to those that are totally unfamiliar with the card-collecting field, apparently this makes a lot of sense.) Anyway, when we got an e-mail on this Plank, we assumed that it, too, would be a reprint. But when the Xerox arrived in the mail, we were very surprised to find that it appeared to be an original. (That had happened only one other time before with a T206 Plank!) We were even more surprised to see that it had a Piedmont back. The card was sent in for auction. Naturally, we could not help but call to ask how the consignor happened to have only this one extremely rare and valuable card. Perhaps the answer would shed light on the rare Piedmont reverse. Did someone in the family once work for the printing company? Or the tobacco company? Did they have any other cards? Did they have a Wagner? The consignor was happy to share the story: A couple years ago, she was cleaning out her parent's house, and in the process found approximately 100 T206 tobacco cards in the attic including the Plank, which according to the family was the only card that was trimmed. When they looked these up in a price guide they were shocked to learn the Plank was worth thousands of dollars in any condition, and investigated how to best sell just the one card for the family. Since all they sent to REA was the Plank, we naturally asked to examine the rest of the collection, in case the other cards could shed additional light on Planks and the mysteries of the T206 series. They were happy to sell the balance and sent in an additional 105 T206 cards. Upon examination, it was immediately clear to us that at least a few other cards were clearly hand-cut cut from sheets. Two of these cards (Demmitt, NY and Manning) are included here with the Plank in this lot for reference. Thus far, every one of the very few T206 Planks and Wagners with Piedmont backs have apparently been cut from sheets as opposed to machine-cut, and we can't help but wonder how these cards could wind up in a noncollector's original-owner collection if they had no connection to the printer. Similarly, a Wagner with a Piedmont back was discovered in an original-owner collection years ago, and was the only card in the collection with (in that case) a very slight miscut. Could it be that some of these Piedmont-back Wagners and Planks were hand-cut and issued in packs? That may sound unlikely, but there must be some explanation common to all of these extreme T206 rarities with Piedmont backs. So, that's the story so far, and we thought it was worth sharing. This unique example has been trimmed (on all four sides) and therefore has been encapsulated as "Authentic" by SGC as opposed to being assigned a numerical grade. This is still a very striking and fascinating card, and represents an extraordinary opportunity for the collector who wants a very attractive T206 Plank at a far more affordable level than a higher-grade example would most certainly cost. The image of Plank is crisp and clear. The portrait is bold. The background color is an ideal deep blue. The virtually flawless advertisement for Piedmont Cigarettes (150 Subjects, Factory No. 25) back is crisply printed in blue. The few light surface wrinkles are of no consequence. One of the great things about card collecting is that cards are valued by collectors in all grades, and serious collections can be assembled on different budgets. Not many can afford the $200,000+ that a T206 Plank would sell for in Nr/Mt-Mt condition, if one were to be available, but many more collectors of T206, the most important and popular set of the era, can consider a lower-grade example. This is a very attractive newly discovered low-grade example of this legendary rarity, all the more special due to its extremely rare Piedmont advertising reverse.

Final Bid with Buyer's Premium: $41,125

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