Lot # 6: 1909-11 T206 Ty Cobb (HOF - Red Background) w/Ty Cobb Back - Early Example! - SGC A

Category: Featured Items

Starting Bid: $10,000.00

Bids: 89 (Bid History)

Time Left: Auction closed
Lot / Auction Closed

This lot is closed. Bidding is not allowed.

Item was in Auction "Spring, 2024 Premier Auction",
which ran from 3/11/2024 12:00 AM to
3/30/2024 9:00 PM

The T206 Ty Cobb with the reverse that advertises Ty Cobb brand smoking tobacco is one of the most sought-after rarities in the hobby.  Though the "Red Background" is found the most frequently of the four Cobbs in the T206 issue, the Ty Cobb Smoking Tobacco advertisement on the reverse is orders of magnitude more rare than the fabled T206 Honus Wagner, a card so rare that most collectors will live their lives without holding or seeing one in person. Though the card has been the subject of much speculation over how - or if - it was issued, current hobby wisdom is that the cards were distributed only in tins of Ty Cobb brand smoking tobacco.  Since the majority of the early-discovered examples of this card were found in Cobb's home state of Georgia, it has been theorized that the tobacco brand was only sold in that state, hence its extreme rarity.

Long considered one of the most important cards of the tobacco era, the "Cobb with Cobb Back" has seen an increase in visibility in recent years, thanks to an exceptional 2016 find of eight examples of the card, all discovered among the belongings of a southern family, tucked away inside a paper bag.  The story generated significant news coverage, as seven of the cards were dubbed "The Lucky 7 Find" (the family initially elected to keep the eighth card as a memento of the discovery).  Prior to the discovery of these cards, just fifteen examples of the card were known to exist.  The increase in population and the flurry of news coverage served to heighten awareness of the card, and the sales of the seven cards in that find - through a combination of private transactions and public auctions - realized record prices as the cards were absorbed into the hobby during the ensuing years.  Despite the influx of these new examples into the hobby, the card remains as desirable and highly-prized as ever, and the new discoveries have mostly made their way into private collections. In fact, virtually every example that has sold at public auction since 2016 has originated from that find, and there has not been a public sale of any example since 2021.

The card is often the subject of friendly debate among collectors, as it does have a physical characteristic that differentiates it from other T206 cards.  A thin coat of gloss was applied to the front of all but one of the known Cobb cards (a card speculated to be a proof), similar to the gloss found on T213 Coupon Cigarettes cards or even T207 Brown Background cards.  That gloss, over time, is subject to considerable flaking, cracking, chipping, and toning that is typically not seen with T206 cards. As a result, many collectors believe that the Cobb with Cobb Back should be considered a set all its own. However, the hobby in general has embraced the card as a T206, with only the Red Background Cobb available with this back.

Because the T206 Cobb with Cobb back is such an extraordinary rarity, it is possible to research online and find records of virtually every sale of the card.  This particular example can easily be traced to its first and only public sale, by hobby pioneer Lew Lipset, in his April 2009 auction.  At that time, only about a dozen examples were known, and this one helped clarify some of the mysteries around its distribution. It was discovered in a Ty Cobb Tobacco tin, leading Mr. Lipset and many others to the belief that the cards were distributed in, or with, the tins - a belief that most collectors maintain today.  Since that initial 2009 sale, the card has remained in private hands until finding its way to Love of the Game.   

As is the case with a large percentage of the earlier discoveries of this card, this example does exhibit small spots of paper loss on the front, including abrasions obscuring some of the lettering in Cobb's name. As is the case with some of the earlier discoveries, this example is marked by discoloration of the surface at the top portion of the card, likely a combination of extended contact with the metal tin in which it was stored, and similar contact with the tobacco product that came in the tin.  What appears to be either product or rust staining can be seen in several areas on the card front.  Similar toning and marking, along with some light paper loss, can be observed on the back. Conversely, the card is sharp, with four square corners, and none of the surface creasing that is consistent with handling. As is the case with all significant hobby rarities, the technical grade, however, is of little importance.  Most collectors wishing to own one do not have the luxury of being selective, as only a couple of dozen examples exist, at most.

At the time of this card's discovery, only a dozen or so examples of a T206 Cobb with Cobb Back were known to exist.  Even today, decades later, the card is the most rare of all T206 cards - certainly more rare than the extremely valuable Wagner and Plank cards.  An extremely important piece - one that helped solidify that theory that the card was distributed inside the tins of Ty Cobb Smoking Tobacco, auctioned in 2009 by one of the hobby's great pioneers. In a class by itself, one of the hobby's most significant rarities.


NOTE: We have received several bidder inquiries about the nature of the "Altered" designation on the card.  We consulted with SGC, and they have advised us that they are of the opinion that the card was once cleaned with something somewhat harsh or abrasive to the stock, perhaps resulting in some of the areas of paper loss visible on the front. This was their same assessment when the card resided in its original holder when it was sold in 2009. There is no evidence of trimming or color added on this card.

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