Most collectors of anything know about the T206 set from the American Tobacco Company from 1909 to 1911. What many collectors, even some who own many of the cards from the era, do not know is that many of the T206 set images are completely unoriginal. Some of the portrait pictures that were used for the art on the T206 cards were close to a decade old by the time they were used.
A set of cabinet cards called the W600 Sporting Life from 1902 to 1911-Type was the basis for many portraits in “The Monster” that is the T206 set. In fact, these photos by photographer Carl Horner were used for multiple card issues in the years after they were taken.
Heritage Auctions is not alone in having sold off many of the Carl Horner cabinet photo cards, but a May 12, 2022 auction was a significant event due to so many cards being up for auction at once. They were from the
Carl Horner was born in Sweden in 1864 and he arrived in Boston in the 1880s. He quickly established a photography studio and among his steady clients were many of the early professional ballplayers whose likeness are now so well-known because of Horner’s photos being used for many card sets. Nap Lajoie’s portrait above from Carl Horner was also used beyond the T206 set — Fan Craze, Souvenir PC and E96 appearances; and it was the same portrait on Lajoie’s rookie card debut in the E107 Breisch-Williams edition.
While Horner’s cabinet card for the great image used in the T206 Honus Wagner card in 1909 was not up for auction, Heritage Auctions has sold examples of this card before. Two images from prior auctions were used, and the first was a W600 Sporting Life PSA 5 (MK) that sold for $43,200.00 after the buyer’s premium in a May 11, 2017 auction. And here was a description used in an April 18, 2019 auction that sold for $264,000.00 for Wagner in street clothes after the buyer’s premium:
The exquisite Carl Horner photograph of the Hall of Fame shortstop acts as the centerpiece of this series as the source employed on Wagner’s famed T206 appearance. His other portrait gave the hobby the regal and dignified likeness of “Hans” Wagner in Street clothes that was employed for the Flying Dutchmen’s rookie card debut in the historical E107 Breisch Williams edition. The same image is used here, the central image of these large and impressive cabinets unarguably holds a highly elevated level glamour and rarity. The hobby is indebted to the Sporting Life for producing these spectacular treasures.
These cards were listed as coming out of the Jerry Spillman collection. Heritage listed Spillman’s first passion as Rose Co. post cards, and his second passion was the W600 Sporting Life cabinet series. The W600 portraits are large and impressive and the so-called Type 3 format for this set was utilized from 1905 to 1911. Here are some of the other top W600 Sporting Life cabinet cards that sold in the May 12, 2022 auction. All images are from Heritage Auctions.
1902-11 W600 Sporting Life-Type 1 Eddie Plank (Street Clothes) PSA EX-MT+ 6.5 – The Finest of Only Two PSA Graded Examples! sold for $102,000.00.
1902-11 W600 Sporting Life-Type 4 Rube Waddell (Philadelphia) SGC VG 3 (One of Only Two SGC Graded Examples…. sold for $51,600.00 after the premium.
1902-11 W600 Sporting Life-Type 3 Christy Mathewson (in his Uniform) PSA VG 3. List as the only One PSA Graded Type 3 Example, sold for $40,918.80 after the premium.
1902-11 W600 Sporting Life-Type 1 Rube Waddell (Street Clothes-Philadelphia) PSA NM+ 7.5 listed as “Pop One, None Higher!” sold for $36,000.00 after the premium.
1902-11 W600 Sporting Life-Type 2 Cy Young (Uniform) graded as PSA Good+ 2.5 and listed as “The Only Confirmed PSA Example!” sold for $31,200.00.
1902-11 W600 Sporting Life-Type 4 William Keeler (or Wee Willie Keeler) (New York, Uniform) SGC Fair 1.5 listed as “The Only SGC Graded Example” sold for $28,800.00 after the premium.
1902-11 W600 Sporting Life-Type 4 John McGraw (as Manager and in street clothes) graded SGC VG 3 and listed as “The Only Graded Example at SGC” sold for $26,400.00 after the buyer’s premium.
1902-11 W600 Sporting Life-Type 2 George Davis (in his Uniform) SGC Good+ 2.5 was listed as “The Only SGC Graded Example” and it sold for $25,200.00 after the buyer’s premium.
And finally for the sales north of $20,000.00 there was a 1902-11 W600 Sporting Life-Type 3 Napoleon Lajoie (in player Uniform). This was graded as PSA Good+ 2.5 and listed as “The Finest of Only Two PSA Graded Examples!” Its price was $21,600.00 after the buyer’s premium.
A W600 Sporting Life cabinet card of Jesse Burkett also sold for $33,600.00 as this is the only known example of the Type 3 cabinet card. Another of manager Edward Hanlon also sold for $31,200.00 as it is the only known example graded by SGC.