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T206 Ty Cobb with Ty Cobb back PSA-2.5(The "Lucky 7" Find) sold for $372,000

Heritage Auctions (Aug 22, 2021)

1909-11 T206 Ty Cobb - Ty Cobb (Portrait-Red) PSA Good+ 2.5 - from The "Lucky 7" Find! It's one of most desirable and mysterious trading cards in The Standard Guide, its history so murky that there's not even full agreement that the card should be considered a member of the T206 breed. The expansive and definitive taxonomy that was the life's work of Jefferson Burdick fails to even make a mention of it and this most important trading card pioneer almost certainly died unaware of its very existence.

The hobby's leading grading service has followed the general consensus that this elite rarity does indeed deserve a designation within the hobby's most popular tobacco issue, but even they acknowledge that the Cobb/Cobb back stands quite conspicuously alone. Certainly the fact that no other subject appears with a Cobb back suggests this was not a standard component of the American Tobacco supply chain. The slightly glossy obverse likewise sets it apart from standard fare. Many theorize this coating was applied to protect it from contents of the Ty Cobb Cut Plug Tobacco tins in which the card was most likely issued. Even this, however, is only speculation.

But like Ruth's "Called Shot" and Shoeless Joe's participation in the 1919 World Series scandal, the lack of full clarity only enhances the legend, making this card one of the hobby's most desirable and elusive white whales. The PSA slab identifies this important rarity as having derived from "The Lucky 7 Find," a small but historic archive of early cardboard unearthed in a rural southern town by a family tending to the clearance of deceased relatives' belongings from their home in early 2016. These seven cards each celebrated the long-reigning Hit King, and represent the most significant trading card discovery since Heritage Auctions presented The Black Swamp Find to the hobby in 2012. The special pedigree further augments both its exclusive rarity and, by extension, its monetary value.

Today it is estimated that just over twenty examples of the Cobb with Cobb back exist in the world, compared with fifty to seventy-five Wagners from the T206 set. Nineteen appear within the PSA population chart, with the offered representation being one of four at this grade level. Just three are superior, with a VG-EX+ 4.5 specimen topping the population.

More Information: The T206 Ty Cobb Red Portrait Collection

The issue is currently celebrating the 110th anniversary of its closing season, but the magnum opus of American Tobacco's baseball card promotions has progressively revealed its deeper secrets over the course of decades since hobby pioneer Jefferson Burdick filed the creation under its "T206" nomenclature. Likewise nicknamed "The Monster" for the bravery required in taming its 524 subjects into a single collection, the iconic tobacco set is frankly considerably more complex than even Burdick had imagined.

This remarkable offering of Red Portrait Ty Cobb cards is illustrative of that point, a collection that would make hip hop pioneer Sir Mix-a-Lot proud for its unabashed fixation upon the backside. Never before has an assembly of every available advertising back for a single T206 entry been presented in a single auction, and Heritage is proud to once again break new ground for our collecting clientele. The contents range from high-quality examples of the dominant Sweet Caporal and Piedmont to the rare and renowned "Ty Cobb King of the Smoking Tobacco World" advertising that outshines even the legendary Honus Wagner for scarcity.

All fifteen tobacco brands are present and accounted for, and even a ridiculously scarce blank-backed specimen and the fraternal twins of the T213 and T215 issues that closely mirror the T206 design. Once this Platinum Night auction scatters this assembly to the four corners of the globe, it’s unlikely the feat will ever be repeated. This is trading card history in the making, and a field of battle that will draw only the most refined and determined of cardboard connoisseurs into competition.

Final Bid with Buyer's Premium (20%): $372,000

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