I’ve always loved T206 white borders. The thought of having something to do with my favorite sport/hobby that predates both world wars was always intriguing to me. Plus, the T206s are the most famous sports cards in history.
A tobacco card issue that has always been in the T206’s shadow is the 1911 T205 Gold Border. In spite of the fact that it is numerical before T206, it was actually issued after. The number designation given by Jefferson Burdick was a reference to the alphabetical order (Gold vs. White).
The T205 Gold Border is much rarer than the T206 – PSA has graded over a quarter million T206’s … T205’s? Just over 41,000 total. To date, only 4 PSA 9’s have been graded. PSA 10? Zero!
To me, the ultimate face of the set is Christy Mathewson. The artwork is absolutely beautiful. His signature bangs hanging over his forehead, and smile (contrary to most portraits of that time period) make it a winner for me. The #1 concern from a condition perspective for me on Matty’s T205 is registration – his eyes can oftentimes be found as blurry.
I recently came across a nicely registered and centered example, and picked it up! It is a Polar Bear back – Polar Bear was scrap tobacco, so staining on the back is typical. Look at how this pops!
I decided to put a microscope on it to take a closer look at the lithograph. Zooming in on the eye, you can see gold flakes scattered. (If I recall correctly, the metallic gold borders are actual copper shavings!)
Compare the printing to a 1988 Donruss under the microscope. Quite the difference!
Here is what I was really interested in, though: The metallic border. Under a microscope, it is easy to fall in love even further with T205s, seeing that there was an added dimension to create them.
Here is an actual photograph of it on my shelf. You can see how the border shimmers, and get a good feel for how the tobacco card makers upped that ante over the T206s with their gold borders.
Here is a video of it going under the microscope if you are interested!