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T206 Eddie Plank (No Background Color) with Piedmont back PSA-Auth sold for $92,762

Goodwin & Co. (Jan 24, 2013)

We can only imagine the immense hyperbole that would sweep throughout the hobby if a "Holy Grail" T206 Wagner just happened to reveal a "unique" background color variation. To date, EVERY known T206 Honus Wagner portrays the standard sunburst orange background all too familiar to even non-hobbyists. While certainly not equal to the T206 Wagner in terms of value, the historical significance of the renowned T206 Eddie Plank and its associated "blue background" cannot be overemphasized by any means. Finishing a close second to the T206 Wagner with regards to overall prestige, the Plank and Wagner share the distinction of being the two most celebrated 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 five Eddie Planks have surfaced with “Piedmont 150” advertisement with four of them “hand-cut” from the scrapper sheets.

Presented here just happens to be, arguably, the most extraordinary T206 card in existence, one of the five existing T206 Piedmont Planks depicting a "VIRTUALLY UNIQUE NO COLOR" background on its obverse side! Indeed, that notion is decisively accurate because, inexplicably, the revered Eddie Plank portrait image is set against a clear white background as opposed to the typical blue background evident on EVERY OTHER KNOWN T206 Plank! Remarkably, this true T206 Plank anomaly shares the unparalleled distinction with a single other copy of carrying an ultra-rare Piedmont Cigarettes ad back coupled with the lack of ANY blue ink beneath Plank's hallowed image. Furthermore, it is common knowledge that the only other "missing color" Plank portrays a pale yellow background, not the obvious clear white setting affixed to this eye pleasing marvel. While this landmark rarity has been manually cut from an original T206 scrapper sheet that was assumed to be removed from production before the "machine cutting process", its irrefutable rarity easily surpasses its irrelevant “Authentic” assessment. Simply stated, the miraculous "Piedmont Cigarette/No Color" combination boggles the imagination with that dynamic duo nearly unprecedented for any existing T206 Plank specimen. As previously stated, the sheer thought of a T206 Wagner ever surfacing WITHOUT its typical orange background would send shockwaves throughout the hobby, and we highly expect this museum worthy Plank offering to likewise arouse the most sophisticated of all elite enthusiasts. In a previous auction, we were extremely honored to offer the sole numerically graded Piedmont Plank. However, many hobby purists would agree that this astonishing aesthetically pleasing Piedmont Plank just might suffice as the most celebrated T206 Eddie Plank on the Planet!

The lack of T206 Eddie Plank cards with Piedmont 150 Subject ad backs is linked to the widely recognized assumption that the Piedmont 150 sheets carrying Plank's hallowed image were never issued in packs since they were "pulled" from production. How this T206 Piedmont Plank managed to exclude the standard blue background color may never achieve 100% resolution with several possible scenarios. Was the original sheet pulled from production BEFORE the background ink was added or was their a possible malfunction in the factory printing process whereby NO BLUE INK was added to this magnificent rarity? T206 purists are certainly familiar with ink related anomalies linked to other T206 subjects including various ad back ink variations (e.g., Old Mill, Lenox, etc.). No one would argue that some of the more renowned T206 subjects depicting these ink variations carry significant weight in the hobby, at times fetching extraordinary price tags. An example of this amazing phenomenon would be a "common" T206 subject with a Brown Lenox ad back fetching a mind-boggling $30K several years ago! Amazing as it may seem, the current T206 craze has prompted the most distinguished tobacco collectors to passionately seek these foremost T206 irregularities. With that in mind, what could possibly be more desirable than the hobby’s most distinguished T206 Plank rarity carrying a "1 of 5" known Piedmont ad back as well as a unique white background on its obverse side. If common scarcities are fetching five plus figures, what is the potential worth of this truly un-chartered hobby icon?

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. All interested parties should immediately place the technical assessment aside for other than that SINGLE numerically graded copy, the other four Piedmont Planks were unquestionably cut from scrapper sheets. What separates this spectacular offering from the other four hand-cut Piedmont Planks is its near precise perimeter cut that is far aesthetically pleasing versus the remaining Piedmont Plank cuts. The highly celebrated illustration is nearly un-improvable via its brilliant facial hues, crystal clear quality and relatively clean white background. Our supreme compliments to its original owner because this card was obviously removed from the sheet with the utmost precision, resulting in a near precise perimeter and fine centering. Three of the four corners still exhibit square formations, with some diminutive wear evident on the upper right corner. The peripheral surface abrasion evident along the mid-right border does not impede the spectacular visual appeal, and no glaring creasing is evident. Rounding out the outstanding aesthetics is a near-flawless bold blue ad back reflecting the ultra-rare "Piedmont 150 Subjects" typography, with only a microscopic-like stain situated above the "P" in Piedmont. Yet, most hobbyists would agree the superb eye appeal of this world-class offering 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 "NO BACKGROUND COLOR" "Piedmont 150 Subjects" T206 Eddie Plank must be classified as the "Mona Lisa". Its combined "Piedmont 150 Subjects" ad back and "white background" place it as one of the rarest and highly coveted baseball cards in the hobby. Of the five known T206 Piedmont Planks, imagine owning the premier visually pleasing example portraying no blue color encompassing Plank's revered pose. Along with the sole numerically graded T206 Piedmont Plank, this iconic offering redefines T206 rarity via its virtually unique cardboard status and unlimited investment potential!

Final Bid with Buyer's Premium: $92,762

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