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T206 Eddie Plank (Gretzky-McNall Wagner Mate with Piedmont Back) sold for $111,625

Robert Edward Auctions (May 2, 2009)

Robert Edward Auctions sold a PSA-Auth T206 Eddie Plank with Piedmont Back for $111,625 in April 2009 auction.

The following was the auction description:

Presented is one of the most amazing cards we have ever had the privilege of offering. This was one of Charlie Conlon's favorite cards, perhaps his all-time favorite. This is a card that, in addition to being one of the most spectacular examples of one of card collecting's most legendary rarities, is steeped in hobby lore.

When the famous Gretzky-McNall T206 Wagner was discovered in 1985, among the additional cards that accompanied was a spectacular T206 Plank. Like the legendary Gretzky-McNall Wagner, the most famous and valuable baseball card in the world, the accompanying Plank was incredibly bright and crisp. It was more than just a remarkably stunning T206 Plank card. Like the Wagner, it was incredible! The T206 Plank was flawlessly clean, both front and back, with brighter colors, a more perfect surface, and a stronger image than found on any other T206 Plank. Even a common T206 is rarely if ever seen with such a superior overall appearance and print quality. This card literally is to T206 Planks what the Gretzky-McNall Wagner is to T206 Wagners: in its own league, unmatched in appearance. Both the Gretzky-McNall Wagner and the accompanying Plank had advertising for Piedmont Cigarettes on the reverse, which in itself is also extremely rare. (Only one or two other examples of each are known with Piedmont advertising backs, as opposed to Sweet Caporal advertising reverses as normally seen, and all of these few examples are in low grade.) The Gretzky-McNall T206 Wagner has changed hands several times over the years, selling each time for record price and, understandably, with great fanfare. But few people were aware that there was a Plank match, also in a spectacular proof-like state, and even fewer knew what happened to this legendary T206 Plank card. Some thought the existence of the Plank was just a rumor. But it was not, and now the existence of the card can be verified and the whereabouts of this card can be revealed to all. It was sold to Charlie Conlon! This is that card! Presented...is the Plank match to the famous T206 Gretzky-McNall Wagner.

For years we had been asking Charlie to allow us to offer the Plank at auction. Sometimes we thought we were close. In fact, we were seriously discussing this with him just months before his passing, and he even agreed that it would be a lot of fun to do, but he loved this card so much that he just couldn't bear to do it.

REA believes, but does not know with certainty, that the Plank (like the Wagner) was saved by someone associated with the printing of the T206 set, and was never actually issued in a pack. When we helped sell this card to Charlie decades ago (we found Charlie as the buyer and in this way helped him to secure the card over twenty years ago), it was described by us as an incredibly crisp card, essentially perfect in appearance, with a very slightly irregular cut, possibly the result of being sheet-cut. Those were the days long before professional grading, and not much of a distinction was made at this time between a card that was neatly cut from a proof sheet and a card that was machine or factory cut. The way professional grading has evolved over the years, there has been no formal and consistent way to address proof or sheet-cut cards. Today, to grading companies, the edges of cards that have been carefully cut from sheets (as opposed to machine-cut issued cards) theoretically have much in common with trimmed cards. Cards that are sheet-cut, therefore, are now encapsulated by grading companies simply as "Authentic". Charlie never bothered to send this card in for grading, because whether or not this particular card would be given a numerical grade didn't matter to him. When we sent this card in for grading to PSA, we had no idea if it would be graded numerically or simply encapsulated as "Authentic," but we were not surprised by the "Authentic" designation. While it is very subtle (not easily seen outside, let alone in the PSA holder), the Plank does have a very slight irregular cut (most easily seen by a very slight angle to the cut of the bottom border), but it is not trimmed. It is our opinion that this card was long ago neatly cut from a sheet that was saved by the printer, and was carefully cut from the sheet possibly decades after being printed. If we are correct with our sheet-cut theory, by definition this card was saved by someone that had something to do with either the American Tobacco Company or the printing company that produced the T206 series, and this is very likely the reason the card has so many qualities that are so superior to other examples, and also why it was able to survive in such a pristine state! We will never know for sure, but the card is here - it's existence is undisputed. Its amazing proof-like state, incredibly rare Piedmont back, extraordinary provenance, and significant connection to the legend of the Gretzky-McNall Wagner all combine to make this card the most noteworthy of all T206 Planks, and one of the most interesting and significant of all legendary rare cards. The card is accompanied by a letter of authenticity, personally written for Charlie Conlon by Bill Mastro in 1986, which further documents the card's legendary provenance, and unique place in hobby history.

Final bid (with 17.5% premium): $111,625

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