Masterpieces and Uncommon Commons XXV
This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 2/12/2010
It would virtually be incomprehensible to believe that the iconic, soft spoken Honus Wagner would have shown any resentment over a brethren T206 card issued directly after his climatic 1909 championship season. After all, it was Wagner’s unparalleled T206 Tobacco card that soared in desirability and value, eventually staking claim to the title “The Holy Grail of Baseball Cards”! No card could possibly match the value and prestige this Wagner specimen offers, as well as the folklore associated with its rarity regarding Wagner’s alleged disdain for tobacco products. The T206 Wagner, Plank and Magie error cards were always heralded as the “Big 3” with their scarcity the significant barrier elite enthusiasts were required to surpass in order to assemble a complete T206 “Monster Set”. Incredible as it may seem, Wagner would have more than sufficient reason to be considerably jealous over a pitcher that spent only 6 seasons in the major leagues and tallied a paltry 22 wins. More definitively, Wagner’s envy would directly relate to the ultra-obscurity of Joe Doyle’s T206 “N.Y. Nat’l” (hands over head) error card that just happens to be presented here in a spectacular SGC “Authentic” holder and is now considered part of the “Big Four”!
Now why would the incomparable Wagner have any reason, whatsoever, to have ill feelings towards a baseball card representing a non-entity pitcher such as Joe Doyle? Well, frankly speaking, his envious state would be directed towards the absolute paucity of Joe Doyle’s T206 error card, NOT his ball playing ability! You will get no argument here that Wagner’s T206 specimen is the “crown jewel” of our hobby and extremely rare, with a conservative estimated count of approximately 60 existing examples. With regard to the Joe Doyle T206 Piedmont 350 Subjects error card offered here, to the best of our knowledge, this is one of only 8 known specimens or, roughly only 13% or a fraction of the total T206 Wagner’s! While hard to imagine, it is an irrefutable fact that the rarity of the T206 Joe Doyle error card immensely exceeds its T206 Wagner counterpart, and with a mere 8 known examples (with this copy only one of two encapsulated by SGC!), there just aren’t enough Doyle error cards to accommodate the abundance of advanced T206 set collectors.
The Hall of Fame veterans committee will never have to painstakingly ponder the question of whether Joe Doyle should be enshrined in Cooperstown; however, the cardboard collecting community should be building a magnificent plaque for his T206 error card. Like the “Magie” error, an early correction to an erroneous printing plate typography issue accounts for the Joe Doyle variation rarity. The Piedmont Tobacco Co. confused N.Y. Americans pitcher Joe Doyle with the star New York Giants/Nationals 2nd baseman Larry Doyle. In 1910, the original template included “N.Y. Nat’l” below Joe Doyle’s name, rather than the correct “N.Y. Amer.” designation. The company quickly realized the inadvertent text error, and simply removed the “Nat’l” typography next to “N.Y.”, rather than adding the “Amer.” verbiage. Therefore, due to an understandable case of “Doyle dyslexia” (they did both play for New York clubs), one of the scarcest cards on the planet was born with the few error cards released by the company including “N.Y. Nat’l” below Joe Doyle’s image! Unquestionably, the tobacco company should be highly applauded for the accelerated path they took in correcting their own error, and the collecting circuit should likewise be grateful, since the company’s expedient tenacity resulted in the birth of an unequivocal cardboard gem.
The card itself exhibits all of the sought after qualities associated with a solid mid-grade example. Due to its sanctified hobby status, the outstanding grading specialists at SGC scrutinized the technical aspects of this unparalleled prize to the greatest extent (even consulting with several hobby experts) and have ascertained, without question, this offering to be the undeniable “true” T206 Joe Doyle variation. The technical “Authentic” assessment is solely attributed to what SGC categorizes as an “uneven top edge cut”, yet with a sparse 8 known copies circulating throughout the hobby, no enthusiasts would argue that the numerical grade is less prevalent as the card’s actual existence, especially for an example that depicts superior mid-grade aesthetics. Doyle’s magnificent “hands over head” image portrays brilliant color, contrast and clarity, with a spectacular bold blue background that appears factory fresh. The entire image is well centered between four dazzling white borders, and no major creasing or surface blemishes are evident. The critical “Doyle, N.Y. Nat’l” variation bold print below Doyle’s picture is completely intact, and the reverse side “Piedmont 350 Subjects” advertisement reflects bold blue print and vivid registration. The only technical stigma aside from the atypical top edge, are four corners depicting moderate wear, strongly consistent with a VG-EX example. In fact, save the technical grade, this stands as one of the most aesthetically pleasing Doyle error cards we have come across.
What more can we possibly say to provide an equitable account of this grandeur cardboard relic. With only a handful of known examples, it certainly merits the highest accolades within our cherished hobby. Furthermore, we can safely assume that of those remaining 7 examples (to reiterate, a count that is solely based on hobby speculation), in the near future you won’t be seeing them in circulation since they are safely tucked away within some of the most colossal and esteemed collections on the planet. In fact, we recollect that only three major auction houses have ever offered this unequivocal card (August 2000, August 2003, May 2009) with the latter selling price reaching an astounding $329,000! Over the past several years, the immortal T206 Wagner has consistently climbed the value chart, with VG examples approaching one million dollars. Considering that the Joe Doyle variation is some 7 times rarer and is a required component to officially achieve a complete 524 card T206 set, it is practically impossible to speculate on the unprecedented price tag each newly auctioned example might achieve. To reiterate, while Wagner’s T206 treasure will forever stand as the most highly sought after cardboard gem, via its unequivocal esoteric presence, the Joe Doyle “N.Y. Nat’l Hands over Head” anomaly is equally deserving of a consecrated “World Class” status label!
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