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Soft Corners Diminish Values of Classic T206 Cards

Bill Wagner - Babe Waxpak by Bill Wagner, "Babe Waxpak"
August 7, 2005

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Dear Babe: I have a number of older, smaller cards (photocopies enclosed). They are in pristine condition with no creases or folds. The cards include Tris Speaker. I have been told his card is valuable. Each has the team name and league along with the last name of the player.
Earl Hyde, Bethesda, Md.

You've got some classic 1909-1911 T206 tobacco cards. Assuming they're authentic and not reprints, all the cards have value. While they may not have folds or creases, it does appear that most have soft corners, which is to be expected with cards nearly 100 years old. A couple are off center as well. The Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards from the editors of Sports Collectors Digest lists Speaker at $1,250 in "near-mint" (NM) condition and $435 in "excellent" condition. Beckett's Almanac of Baseball Cards' top value is $800 for a card in "excellent-mint" (EX-MT) condition. We just can't seem to get those guides to match values. As for all the others, they are listed as commons in both guides. In "EX-MT" and "excellent" condition, the guides list them at $55-$60 each. The Standard Catalog has them all at $215 apiece in "near-mint" condition.

Dear Babe: My father was in Phoenix in 1950 when the New York Giants were there for spring training. Leo Durocher gave him a ball signed by the whole team.
Suzie Ripanti, New Boston, N.H.

If there's such a thing for one of the New York teams, a 1950 Giants ball is run of the mill. Mike Gutierrez's MGAuction.net in Scottsdale, Ariz., sold one for $204 in its March 31 auction. It had the customary stamped signature of Manager Leo Durocher as does yours based on the images you sent along. That's at the low end of the range. Gutierrez said $350 would be on the high end for an average baseball.

Dear Babe: My husband has a baseball signed by Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Bill Dickey that was given to him by his grandfather.
Georgia Wieler, Conyers, Ga.

A number of baseballs signed by Ruth, Gehrig and another person - usually a Yankee - have sold in recent auctions. The balls sell in the $4,000-$8,500 range, depending on the quality of the Ruth and Gehrig signatures as well as placement, i.e., will the ball display as a single-signed Ruth or Gerhig ball or if the Ruth and Gehrig signatures can be seen together when the ball is on display. Generally, Ruth signed on the sweet spot and Gehrig on a side panel.

Dear Babe: I was associated with the old Washington Senators baseball organization in the mid-1960s. Recently, I came across an unopened bottle of beer that says "Washington Senators a major league beer." The bottle is in vintage condition. I also came across a poster of a team picture of the 1961 Cincinnati Reds, the National League champions that year. The poster has been in a frame for the past 41 years and is also in very good condition.
Mike Manning, Atlanta

Forty-year-old beer. It's definitely aged. Like many other things, they don't make 'em like that anymore. The beer is probably worth $50-$100, said Mike Heffner, president of Lelands.com auction house in New York. Heffner suspects that the Reds team photo was distributed by Burger Beer. If that's the case, it might top out at $100. If by chance it's one of those oversized team panoramas, it might be worth more.

About the author
Bill Wagner is a veteran journalist with 37 years in the newspaper business as well as being a former Army combat correspondent in Vietnam. He developed the Babe Waxpak sports card column in the 1980s and took over authorship in 1993, expanding into sports memorabilia and autographs as well as answering questions on cards.

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