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T206 Eddie Plank with Piedmont back SGC-70 sold for $330,826

Goodwin Auctions (April 18, 2012)

The historical significance of the renowned T206 Eddie Plank as it relates to hobby folklore cannot be overemphasized by any means. Along with the T206 Wagner it remains the most celebrated of the prestigious ATC tobacco cards issued over a century ago, save any near-impossible efforts to obtain one of the eight Joe Doyle “N.Y. Nat’l” variation specimens. Similar to the illustrious legacy of the T206 Wagner and how his alleged disdain for promoting tobacco products to children prompted him to discontinue the use of the exalted Wagner illustration on his T206 subject, the minimal number of Eddie Plank examples is sometimes linked to a similar contempt for his image being used to promote cigarettes. However, as time evolves, hobby conjecture now frowns upon this theory as it relates to Plank since his image was utilized during the Sweet Caporal 350 Subject series. Speculation for the shortage of Planks includes a possible broken printing plate during the 150 Series printing process, the potential for Plank to have eventually granted his permission to the ATC by late July 1909 to utilize his image for the 350 series due to re-negotiated compensation related issues or even a possible ATC victory relating to a power struggle for the tobacco company to share the rights to use Plank versus various candy manufacturers. While full resolution may never be reached regarding the “definitive” reason for the shortage of T206 Planks, what we do know with 100% certainty is that obtaining one with a “Piedmont Cigarettes” 150 Subject ad back is a virtually insurmountable task. The fact is that in the late spring of 1909, the production of Piedmont 150 sheets including Plank (and most likely Honus Wagner) was ceased with these cards most likely never reaching the stage of being inserted into cigarette packs. Since a few of these sheets were already printed, a paltry 3 Eddie Planks have surfaced with “Piedmont 150” advertisement, only to have been “hand-cut” from the scrapper sheets with severe irregular perimeters and obviously graded “Authentic” by both the SGC and PSA grading companies.

Considering the history of the T206 Eddie Plank including its “Piedmont 150 Subject” rarity, presented here just may be the most extraordinary T206 specimen in existence. Not only does this 1909 T206 Eddie Plank INCLUDE a near-impossible “Piedmont 150 Subject” advertisement back making it the fourth known specimen example of its kind, it has been assigned a breathtaking SGC 70/5.5 NUMERICAL GRADE! That is indeed correct, this UNIQUE offering has NOT been manually cut from a scrapper sheet but was machine-cut from the Factory 25 plant, meriting its magnificent technical assessment! When our consignor informed us that he was going to provide us with an outstanding 523 subject T206 set for auction including a T206 Piedmont 150 Plank, like any knowledgeable hobbyist, we were extremely excited and simply assumed the newly discovered card would be the fourth “hand-cut” Piedmont Plank rarity. However, upon receiving the card, it was obvious that it did NOT include the obtrusive perimeter cuts evident on the other handful of existing examples, with the edging presenting strong evidence that it just may have been factory cut. After submitting the card to the illustrious SGC Grading Company, our excitement escalated to sheer exhilaration upon hearing the news that ALL of the reputable SGC graders as well as the company’s majority owner were in 100% agreement the card had NOT been trimmed and included a standard factory cut! What skeptics must keep in mind is that before seeing the card, SGC made it perfectly clear it had virtually no chance of receiving a numerical grade. Obviously familiar with the storied past of this iconic cardboard remnant, SGC assured us the edging would need to portray 100% irrefutable machine-cut attributes in order for the card to be assigned a numerical technical assessment. That truly remains the astonishing aspect of this “one of a kind” crowned jewel; the sheer fact that it entered the grading process with inconceivable odds to be the only machine-cut T206 Piedmont 150 Subject Eddie Plank on the planet! To safely assure you that the previously stated SGC grading process for this incredible T206 Plank heirloom is completely accurate, we are proud to post the following statement from BOTH SGC’s renowned president and head grader:

“When learning Bill Goodwin had a T206 Piedmont Plank, we clearly informed him that the card had to be hand-cut from a scrapper sheet and similar to the other handful that exist, would receive an “Authentic” assessment. Only ironclad circumstances relating to no evidence of trimming, whatsoever, could possibly enable us to encapsulate the card with a numerical grade. After scouring the card for what appeared to be an infinite amount of time, our unwavering opinion was to assign the current SGC 70/5.5 grade since not a shred of evidence relating to trimming exists under our finest magnification process. We stand by this card’s factory cut origin and vouch with 100% certainty that it was not hand-cut”.

So now where does this leave us regarding the hobby stance behind the T206 Eddie Plank Piedmont 150 specimens? A majority of advanced T206 enthusiasts are comfortable with the assumption that the Piedmont 150 sheets carrying Plank’s hallowed image were never issued in packs since they were “pulled” from production. However, who is to say that a number of sheets didn’t actually make it to the machine “cutting” process before those sheets were withdrawn from production, with the few factory cut cards either saved by factory workers or possibly inserted in a handful of packs? While this is all pure conjecture, the fact remains this UNIQUE OFFERING has been officially encapsulated as the SOLE numerically graded Eddie Plank Piedmont 150 Subject example by one of the hobby’s premier and respectable grading services! Additionally supporting its new iconic stature is the reality that it has not been in circulation for “at least” 30 years, safely tucked away in our consigner’s collection even before grading was officially introduced by PSA with the encapsulation of the PSA 8 Honus Wagner. Therefore, advanced hobbyists are now left with the actuality of an additional conundrum with respect to the shrouded mystery of the T206 Plank.

Other than Wagner’s sacred T206 image, no other pre-WWII player portrait is more recognized than Eddie Plank’s Carl Horner turn of the century photo affixed to his iconic T206 card, and what better one to own than this brilliant high-grade example that has managed to outdistance nearly 90% of the other PSA and SGC encapsulated examples. In fact, SGC’s census report indicates that only a single Sweet Caporal subject has managed to exceed this Cooperstown worthy marvel. We must also point out that not only does this example suffice as the only numerically graded copy, but its unparalleled central image and bold blue background place it as one of the finest aesthetically pleasing specimens in circulation. The highly celebrated illustration is un-improvable via its brilliant facial hues, crystal clear quality and flawless blue background. Atypical with any T206 Plank is the deep/rich blue setting with most examples depicting a lighter powder blue substance. The near-perfect centering borders on 50/50, ably assisted by four blinding white borders with only some microscopic like toning situated near the utmost lower left corner. No obtrusive blemishes are evident on either side, and you will not locate any creasing, whatsoever. Only some modest corner touching, especially near the utmost lower left corner tip prevent this breathtaking example from achieving a higher grade. Rounding out its scintillating eye appeal is a near-flawless bold blue ad back that reflects the ultra-rare “Piedmont 150 Subjects” typography. Considering its sensational central image, robust blue setting and “dead-on” centering, not even the handful of existing PSA 6 or 7 examples could possibly surpass the spine tingling aesthetics of this “one of a kind” Piedmont gem.

The old cliché “a picture is worth a thousand words” certainly applies to this extraordinary 103 year old marvel that has managed to best “father time”, miraculously retaining practically all of its original print attributes. Yet, in this case even its world-class eye appeal needs to take a back seat to the card’s sheer existence. If the T206 Honus Wagner is our illustrious hobby’s “Holy Grail”, then this numerically graded “Piedmont 150 Subjects” T206 Eddie Plank must be classified as the “Mona Lisa”. Its unique “Piedmont 150 Subjects numerically graded” status officially places it as one of the rarest and highly coveted baseball cards in the hobby. Of the four known T206 Piedmont Planks, imagine owning the SOLE COPY carrying a numerical grade, with this phenomenal offering somehow managing to present itself a century later with its atypical factory cut edging. In closing, this eminent offering has redefined T206 rarity for the Joe Doyle “N.Y. Nat’l” variation no longer resides as the scarcest T206 specimen, now taking a backseat to this newly surfacing Piedmont Cigarettes Eddie Plank anomaly!

Final Bid with Buyer's Premium: $330,826

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