Card of the Day: 1909-11 T206 Ed Abbaticchio

Today’s Card of the Day seems like it’s a repeat if you do a search of our Card of the Day page. We have already looked at a T206 card of Ed Abbaticchio, but he had two cards in that iconic set. The first article posted two years ago today, looked at the card known as the “blue sleeves” Abbaticchio from this set. Today’s card is the brown sleeves version. The T206 manufacturers gave Abbaticchio two batting poses in the set. These are the only cards in the set identified by sleeve colors.

Most players who have more than one T206 card, have easier identifiers. Hall of Famer Vic Willis is a great example. He has three cards in the set. One is a portrait, one is a pitching pose, and the other shows him with a bat. Ty Cobb is a little tougher with his four cards. Two are portrait and two are batting. The portraits are identified by background color. The batting cards show him in different stances, one with a bat on his shoulder, one with a bat off. Collectors refer to them as “bat on” and “bat off” poses.

Before looking at today’s card, check out the other link above so you’ll be able to see the difference between the two cards. In other words, it’s a way to see why they went with sleeve color as the identifier. Now that you’ve clicked on that link, here’s the brown sleeve T206 card of Ed Abbaticchio.

Here’s the front of the card:

You don’t really have to strain to see why they called this “brown sleeve”, but the artwork is actually depicting the road gray uniform of the Pirates. There are two things of note about this uniform. The first is that the artist(s) for this set took the creative liberty of adding “Pittsburg” across the front of Pirates players in the set. That was not on the uniforms. The spelling of Pittsburgh on this card is correct for the era.

The second thing is that the iconic “PBC” logo should be visible on his sleeve. Maybe the photo taken for this artwork was from 1907 (or earlier before he joined the Pirates). However, the blue collar on the jersey was added in 1908, so they were going for the current (at the time) Pirates jersey. So in other words, they added writing that wasn’t there, while also not including writing that was there.

I talk a lot about designs of cards, but sometimes the set itself just overshadows the design. They went with a small white border, with the player’s name and team in a typewriter type of printing. Nothing else. Yet this is top three in my book for the most important sets of all-time, ranking there with the 1952 Topps and the 1886-90 Old Judge set. The T206 set has the nickname “The Monster” because there is so much information to know about the set, and so many variations that make a true master set impossible to collect. Someone with a lot of money tried not long ago.

I recommend this set to everyone, even if you only get one card as a type card. Abbaticchio would be a nice starting point, since has a bit of historical significance with being the first Italian-American star in baseball, and possible the first Italian player in baseball. An older player named Lewis Dickerson, who saw time with the Pirates franchise, has questionable Italian roots. Being the first of something in baseball, whether it’s a case like this, or something stats related, will almost always help the value of a card.

Here’s the back of the card:

Part of the endless information with this set is the amount of backs that you can find throughout the set. If you bought 100 random T206 cards from someone, which represented the population of the set correctly, you would get about 20 Sweet Caporal backs. However, you might only get 2-3 that look exactly like this one. Where is says “150 subjects”, it’s telling you that it is part of the first portion of this set’s printing. There are cards with “350 subjects” and third printing cards with “350-460” for the number. Even harder to see here is the small print under that. The “factory no. 30” here can be different as well. This stuff here isn’t first day stuff for the set. It’s advanced stuff you learn with experience.

Chances are the cards you see will have either Sweet Caporal or Piedmont backs, which add no value in most cases to any card. There are hard to find exceptions, but it’s a general rule of thumb that those backs won’t add value. If you have T206 cards with other brand backs, you should always do research before buying or selling them.

As for this particular card, there are 29 copies currently on Ebay, though a few are straight auctions that will be done before you see this article. I’m going to look at closed auction prices here to give you a better idea of what you should expect to pay. A PSA 4 ended recently for $180. Someone paid $155 for a nice looking one that only graded Authentic, which is usually due to trimming on the card. A PSA 1.5 with a Sovereign back, ended for $145. Sovereign backs add slight values. Three lower grade copies (ungraded) have ended between $50 and $60 each. That’s where you probably want to be for this card, unless you want a nicer copy. A really nice one is going to cost a lot of money if you can find one.