Hello. I’m Jason Stricker, creator of T206blog.com; thanks for checking it out. I tend to wear many hats as my interests include a variety of things, such as landscape photography, food blogging and of course collecting T206 tobacco baseball cards.
How I Started Collecting T206s
Growing up I collected baseball cards like many kids. As it turns out, I collected during an unfortunate time period in baseball card collecting: 1988 – 1993. Sure, there were some hot rookies at the time like Ken Griffey Jr and Frank Thomas, but the baseball card industry was taking a nose dive. Even though I preferred, even at a young age, cards from decades past, I temporarily lost interest in collecting as the industry became more commercialized and cards started to contain foil stamps and printed on super high-gloss cardstock that felt like plastic. At this point I was probably more interested in learning to drive and of course, girls. Gone were the summer afternoons of hitching a ride with Dad to the local 7-11 (our family always needed milk) to pick up a wax pack of Topps and trying not to chip a tooth on the stiff stick of glue tasting bubble gum they included in the pack.
At times, I was slightly obsessed about it (I’m seeing a life pattern). I can remember my Dad bringing home a drugstore display counter that I promptly placed in my room. After throwing some prices on a few cards and memorabilia and placing them on the display counter, my room was instantly turned into Jason’s Baseball Card Shop. I still have the blue prints I drafted of a shed I wanted to build in the backyard so Jason’s Baseball Card Shop could expand. And I actually sold some of the cards to the neighborhood kids. Christmas mornings for me looked as if my parents had burglarized the local baseball card shop, with unopened boxes and factory sealed complete sets.
So how did I start collecting T206 baseball cards? During my childhood collecting years, I remember getting a small collection of reprints, some of which were the big 4 T206 cards: Wagner, Plank, Doyle and Magie. Intrigued by their size and value (if they were real), they always stuck out in my mind. Once I became a more avid collector, I seemed to gravitate towards older cards, perhaps because of my love of history and older things. I didn’t have a lot of money as a kid, but I’d rather buy a beat up 1954 Bowman Pee Wee Reese or a 1973 Topps Lou Brock or Harmen Killebrew to the latest Jose Canseco or Barry Bonds card.
One day while visiting a small baseball card stand in an outlet mall, I saw a few T206 cards and I couldn’t believe it. I remembered the set of reprints and thought how cool it would be to own a real one. The prices being somewhere between $15-$25 for a few beat up commoners. A few were more expensive, but given my limited cash flow, I asked to see a couple of the ‘cheaper’ ones. Up until that point, I don’t think I had ever paid more than $10, maybe $15 for a card. So to shell out over $20 for a card, a much smaller sized card at that, was a really big deal. I didn’t recognize any of the players, so I narrowed in on one I thought was in decent condition, had good color and an interesting look to it. I thought, if I’m going to pay this much for a card, I might as well get the best looking one I could afford. I bought my first T206 card that summer afternoon – Larry Schafly, Newark, which is a minor league commoner. I went back a few weeks later and bought a Donnie Bush T206 card as well as a thick screw down case that still holds both cards to this day.
And so the obsession started, kind of. I didn’t buy another T206 card for 17 years. That’s right, 17 years passed by with no further baseball card purchase of any kind. And the reason is simple; many important life changes occurred during those 17 years such as high school, college, first ‘real’ job, purchasing a home, getting married, etc. You really don’t have time for baseball cards with all of that going on.
After college I moved several times before finally buying a home. It seemed that everytime I moved, I came across a box of my best baseball cards – all of my old cards and really ‘valuable’ ones, including the two T206s. As I’d take moment to sift through them, I was always most impressed and proud of the Schafly and Bush cards. Whenever a random conversation about baseball cards would come up, I’d be sure to fit in the fact that I owned two cards that were made from 1909-1911.
Later on I moved all of my boxes of baseball cards and memorabilia out of my parents’ home and I found myself digging through all of the items once again. I decided to see if I could sell some of the memorabilia since I didn’t have a lot of space for storage. During my eBay selling, I happened to type in T206 just to see if there happened to be any more of these cards for sale. Wow – thousands instantly popped up on my monitor. I felt the obsession instantly come back. Once again I was hooked.
I contemplated for a long time whether or not to start collecting again. I could see it becoming a major expense, especially if I were serious about collecting the set sans the big four. Finally, I mentioned it to my wife and surprisingly, she was very supportive of the idea. At this point, I’m sure she’s regretting giving the O.K. given the ongoing costs, but she hasn’t left me yet. Actually, she seems to be okay with it as long as the rest of the bills get paid and I don’t forget to spend some money on her now and then. I’ve heard of spouses not being nearly as supportive as mine, so I feel blessed to have her.
Reasons I Collect T206 Baseball Cards
The T206 tobacco card set is considered by most to be one of if not the most important baseball card sets and one of the most beautiful. The lithographs are stunning, even after 100+ years and the set contains so many baseball icons and hall of famers such as Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Tris Speaker, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Nap Lajoie, Walter Johnson, among many more. They are also probably the most popular set to collect.
As previously mentioned, I’m a fan of history and have always been attracted to old stuff. While I don’t have a home full of antiques, I love browsing through antique shops. To me, old items tell a story; there’s a history to them. Old things tend to be better constructed as well; they are built to last. So when it comes to T206 cards, to me it’s about owning and preserving a piece of history. Sure, it’s exciting to think of the cards’ value, but I’m not in it for profit. Given these cards are scarce and over 100 years old (officially making them antiques), I think it’s important to save them from being lost forever.
My collection consists mostly of raw, ungraded cards. I have no interest in paying thousands of dollars more for a higher rated number and looking at a card under a permamently slabbed piece of plastic. I’d rather own a stack of raw cards I can physically touch with my own two hands. Quantity over quality for my collection. If you think about it, a beat up T206 card has more history to it, more of a story than a near mint card that sat in a book or in a box for 100 years. These worn and creased cards were played with by children as they traded amongst their friends. They were kept in people’s pockets and used as conversation pieces. When you hold a raw card, you can’t help but wonder who’s held it before? Who originally found it? Where has it been? Mysteries to which we’ll never know answers.
Finally, I collect T206 tobacco baseball cards because it’s fun. I enjoy baseball, the cards’ and players’ history and the thrill of trying to complete the set. I enjoy scoping out estate sales, garage sales and flea markets, hoping to uncover previously unknown treasures. The hunt is just as much of a thrill as actually owning the cards. We all have our interests and hobbies and while I have many of both, collecting T206 baseball cards will always be one that excites me.
Focus of T206blog.com
This blog is about my T206 tobacco baseball card collecting experience. For those of you who also collect this set, you understand the lure and attraction of the T206s. It’s this bizarre addiction that’s nearly impossible to satisfy; it’s downright scary at times. T206 collecting can make you slightly insane, drain your bank account, keep you up at night and wreak havic on personal relationships. If you’re new to collecting T206 cards or are thinking about starting, don’t. Stop reading this blog and go for a long walk. If you start, you won’t be able to stop. And if you start, then there will be fewer cards for me to hoard.