Masterpieces and Uncommon Commons XXXII
This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 4/15/2011
If the T206 Honus Wagner is our illustrious hobby’s “Holy Grail”, then its T206 Eddie Plank neighbor should be classified as the “Mona Lisa”. We are all familiar with the legacy of the T206 Wagner and how his disdain for tobacco products prompted him to discontinue the distribution of his tobacco Sweet Caporal advertisement card, resulting in a mere few in existence today. Likewise, there are a select few of Eddie Plank T206 subjects available; however, the cause for the Plank shortage remains a mystery. While hobby myth suggests that a broken printing plate was the culprit, this legendary assumption is easily disputable since the Plank T206 was issued with BOTH Sweet Caporal 150 and 350 Subject advertisement backs. The different “Subject” backs clearly indicate the different printing periods associated with the Plank, making it extremely unlikely the existence of TWO broken printing plates! What does make sense is the other potential allegation, synonymous with the Wagner fable, allegedly attributing this T206 scarcity to Plank not willing to promote tobacco products or possibly withdrawing the ATC’s rights to use his image due to financial related issues (interesting thought since the only other non-regional “T” card carrying Plank’s image is the T204 Ramly….no T201, T202, T205, T207 and the deficiency of T206s….probably not a coincidence). Regardless of the exact reason for the T206 Plank rarity, the fact remains it is easily considered a “Top 5” hobby icon, and a card painstakingly pursued by virtually every elite hobbyist. That considered, presented here just happens to be one of the finest T206 Planks in existence, a remarkable PSA 6 gem that stands as one of only 3 at this tier with a mere 5 PSA examples graded higher. In fact, the COMBINED PSA and SGC census reports indicate that only 6 specimens exceed this incredible hobby offering!
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, and what better one to own than this astonishing high-grade example that has managed to outdistance nearly 90% of the other PSA and SGC encapsulated examples. Safe to say, this hallowed offering easily merits Cooperstown cardboard status via its virtually unparalleled hobby standing as well as the breathtaking aesthetics emanating from Carl Horner’s renowned portrait Plank image. The highly celebrated illustration is un-improvable via its brilliant facial hues and flawless bold powder blue background. Likewise, Plank’s period style Athletic’s uniform is un-blemished, with the image well-centered “top to bottom” and approximately 65/35 “right to left”. All four corners have retained most of their original factory cut right angle shape with only modest “touching” near the utmost lower left corner tip. The sparkling Plank illustration is situated between four ultra-clean bright white borders, the perimeter edging is razor sharp, and no apparent surface blemishes are evident. The reverse side “Sweet Caporal 350 Subjects, Factory 30” advertisement, synonymous with the flip side aesthetics is absolutely superb, with the bold, vividly focused red typography and clean white surface nearly immaculate. All technical aspects considered, only the imperfect centering could possibly have prevented this miraculous keepsake from achieving a higher grade, with its amazing visual qualities easily consistent with any near mint specimen.
The old cliché “a picture is worth a thousand words” certainly applies to this extraordinary 101 year old marvel that has managed to best “father time”, miraculously retaining practically all of its original print attributes. Of all the sets ever produced in our treasured hobby, none could possibly compare with the prestigious 1909 – 1911 T206 issue. A myriad of high end collectors continue to attempt completing this “monster” set that includes 524 subjects; however, most only pursue 520 subjects, neglecting the Wagner, Plank and O’Hara/Magie errors. There are a number of elite enthusiasts that are relentless in their pursuit of either obtaining all 524 cards, or unyielding in their quest for acquiring the hobby’s finest cardboard artifacts. Furthermore, stepping aside from the T206 compilation aspect, a high-grade T206 Plank’s prestige outdistances cardboard icons such as the 1916 Babe Ruth M101-5 Rookie, 1933 Nap Lajoie and 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle, and along with the T206 Ty Cobb back and Baltimore News Ruth, arguably battles for second place prominence behind the “Holy Grail” T206 Wagner. With that in mind, this “ultra-rare for the grade” T206 Plank would make an unrivaled “World Class” centerpiece in any esteemed gathering, and unquestionably ranks as one of the grandeur cardboard gems in the hobby!
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