T206 Ty Cobb Green Portrait: Is It Worth The Premium?

green-cobbIf you’ve spent any time in the tobacco groups on Facebook, you’re well aware of the popularity and the mystique of the T206 Ty Cobb Green Portrait Card.

If you’re new to the ‘Monster’ you might not realize that Cobb has four cards in the set.  A green and a red portrait card along with a ‘Bat off Shoulder’  and a ‘Bat on Shoulder’ card.

The portrait cards have consistently over time been the most valuable of the four, with the green portrait card the rarest and most valuable.

In this piece we take a closer look at the values and the scarcity of the Cobb cards and attempt to determine the future values.  Our main goal of this piece is to determine whether the Green portrait Cobb is worthy of the premium it holds over the other Cobb cards in the set and other Cobb cards in different sets.

From a popularity standpoint, Cobb’s cards remain in high demand, with his four T206 cards remaining among the most highly sought after in the hobby.  In fact, using the tools at All Vintage Search we can see that the Cobb cards in the white borders set are among the top ranked for ‘watchers’ at eBay.

Follow along as we examine the population reports and historical values.  Have a question on a T206 Cobb?  Feel free to get in touch with me at chris@allvintagecards.com

A Closer Look at the T206 Cobb Cards

As noted prior there are four Cobb cards in the T206 set.  Here’s a view of the four cards:

Ty Cobb Green Portrait

Current Value in Good (PSA 2) Condition: ~$5000

green-cobb

Ty Cobb Red Portrait

Current Value in Good (PSA 2) Condition: ~$2000

cobb-red-background

Ty Cobb “Bat On Shoulder”

Current Value in Good (PSA 2) Condition: ~$2000

Ty Cobb “Bat Off Shoulder”

Current Value in Good (PSA 2) Condition: ~$2000

cobb-off-shoulder

Examining Values and Population Reports

Below, i have listed the four population reports from PSA for each of the Cobb cards. 

green-portrait-pop-psared-cobb-psa-pop

bat-on-cobb-psa

bat-off-psa

Note the population reports above are from PSA thus this is only one snapshot of the card’s existing population and doesn’t include stats from SGC, BVG, or any of the existing raw population.  But the stats from PSA are a good guideline for a comparison just to get an idea as to the scarcity difference.

I’ve graphed the population and values for each of the four Cobb cards below.   What’s quite noticeable is that the green portrait card, bat on shoulder and bat off shoulder cards all have very similar scarcity.  Yet the green portrait card has a value of roughly 2.5x times that of the other two cards. 

What is also quite noticeable is that the red portrait card is a much easier find, with an existing PSA population of nearly 2100, which is more than double that of the three other cards.  Should a red portrait Cobb be worth the equivalent of the two other non-portrait cards, given that it has nearly double the existing population?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from years of vintage collecting, it’s that DEMAND most definitely matters.   Whenever I buy a new card, I’m sure to check on the scarcity.  I like to find uncovered gems (usually strip cards) that don’t have a ton of demand and usually a lack of supply…meaning that if the demand ever caught up to the supply, the price would likely increase. 

But in the case of the green-portrait Cobb, the DEMAND has reached a point of easily overwhelming the supply, resulting in a significant rise in price.  As we wrote in our piece on the T206 set, the demand for T206 cards remains the the highest of all the vintage baseball sets. 

cobb-psa-values

TY COBB 1909-1911 T206 OLD MILL CIGARETTES SGC 1 ! *GREAT COLOR/NICE FRONT RARE

$2,199.99
End Date: Thursday Mar-19-2020 13:27:55 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $2,199.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

1909 T206 Ty Cobb Green Portrait Sweet Cap SGC 1.5

$4,175.00
End Date: Thursday Mar-19-2020 21:25:07 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $4,175.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Very Rare 1909-11 T206 Ty Cobb Red Portrait Detroit HOF PSA 5 EX HIGH END

$10,999.99
End Date: Thursday Mar-19-2020 21:04:41 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $10,999.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

1909 T206 TY COBB PSA 2.5 NEW LABEL CENTERED BAT ON SHOULDER HOT TOBACCO CARD

$2,449.00
End Date: Tuesday Mar-17-2020 23:48:29 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $2,449.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

1910 T206 PIEDMONT CIGARETTES -TY COBB, BAT OFF SHOULDER - PSA 1.5 FAIR (SVSC)

$2,299.99
End Date: Saturday Mar-14-2020 21:34:02 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $2,299.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Are Other Cobb Cards a Better Value?

If you know me, you might like to know that I like finding a bargain.  And this goes for collecting too.  I think long and hard about population reports with my own collection.  I’m an investor by nature, so I guess it’s just natural for me to consider supply and demand.   

I always worried about the excessive amount of T206 cards available relative to some other tobacco, strip or caramel sets.  Could they hold their value over time, given the plentiful supply?  I think the answer is yes, and this again gets back to that DEMAND part of the equation. 

For years, T206 cards have been the most sought after vintage cards, and of late that demand has reached even greater heights.  There’s a certain allure to the T206 cards;  the size, the beautiful colors and art work, along with the star power.  

But that’s not to say their aren’t some ‘relative bargains’.   I brought this up a while back when I compared the T206 Cy Young cards to the M116 Sporting News card.   The key to remember sometimes, is that even if a card is much scarcer and costs less, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the two prices will ever converge to one another. 

Yet, as a value investor, it’s hard not to envision that it MIGHT happen.  Thus, at least for comparison sake, here are a few Cobb cards that look like a good deal.  

Ty Cobb T3 Turkey Red

I love the Turkey Reds and wrote up a comprehensive piece on the set.   The set is beautiful and in one of my opinions, one of the more underrated tobacco sets of the era.  And shhh, the set is a LOT scarcer than the T206 set.   Oh and by the way, the card is the same exact pose as Cobb’s T206 ‘Bat on Shoulder’ card, yet with a more expanded and beautiful background.

t3-cobb

The T3 Cobb PSA population is less than 100, about 1/10th of green portrait, bat off shoulder or bat on shoulder T206 cards.  And yet a T3 in good condition can be found for around the same price as a similar condition green portrait. 

 

2019 Topps Iconic Reprints Ty Cobb T3 Turkey Red #109/150 NMMT+

$19.99
End Date: Wednesday Mar-18-2020 13:13:05 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $19.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

1911 T3 Turkey Red - TY COBB - Detroit Tigers HOF original baseball cabinet card

$2,750.00
End Date: Friday Feb-21-2020 16:42:48 PST
Buy It Now for only: $2,750.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

1911 T3 Turkey Red Complete ALL PSA Set Graded Cobb Mathewson Lajoie Clark

$39,500.00
End Date: Tuesday Mar-17-2020 17:19:49 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $39,500.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

2019 Topps Iconic Cards T3 Turkey Red Ty Cobb #ICR-2

$0.40 (0 Bids)
End Date: Sunday Mar-1-2020 7:55:55 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

T205 Ty Cobb

The Cobb card from the 1911 ‘gold border’ set is a relative bargain in comparison to the T206 cards.  With a PSA population of only 543 cards, the card is actually scarcer than any of the scarcest Cobb T206 cards and by a wide margin (see chart below).  Yet the T205 card sells at a big discount to any of the T206 Cobb cards.  Of course a lot of this gets back to demand, collectors just like the T206 more than they do the T205 cards, but if you’re a value investor, you might want to set your sights on the T205 Cobb.  

cobb-psa-t206-t205

 

 

1911 T205 Gold Border Set Break Ty Cobb Hassan SGC 1.5 FR

$450.00 (27 Bids)
End Date: Sunday Feb-23-2020 17:25:01 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

1911 T205 Ty Cobb Card,Gold Border,Piedmont,ungraded

$2.00 (4 Bids)
End Date: Monday Feb-24-2020 17:00:07 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

T205 Ty Cobb Hassan Cigarettes Graded SGC 10 Poor 1

$775.00
End Date: Saturday Feb-29-2020 11:42:36 PST
Buy It Now for only: $775.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

1911 T205 Piedmont TY COBB PSA 1.5

$810.00 (10 Bids)
End Date: Tuesday Feb-25-2020 20:01:10 PST
Bid now | Add to watch list

M116 Sporting News Ty Cobb

This set often gets overlooked but for a playing day Cobb or any of the stars of the era, this is an affordable and high quality investment.  The card actually features the same exact pose from Cobb’s T206 portrait cards.  

In examining the scarcity of the M116 cards, you might quickly start to wonder why they aren’t more valuable.  The M116 set has various background versions, with the blue background being the scarcest.   There are less than 100 copies of the pastel background listed in the PSA Pop reports making the Cobb M116 about 1/10th scarcer than any of the scarcest T206 Cobb cards.  And a good M116 Cobb can normally be found for $1500 or less.  This definitely has the value investor excited.  

THE STRIPS!

Yep, I said it.  The dreaded word–strip cards.  Some people love em, some people hate em, but whatever the case, there’s an argument to be made that strip cards offer tremendous value versus some of the more popular tobacco or candy sets of the era.  Take a look for example at the W551 Ty Cobb Strip Card which has around 100 in the PSA population and can be found for around $500 in good condition.  

w551-cobb

Cobb Green Portrait – Will It Increase in Value Over Time?

I’m not one to make predictions.  It all comes back to supply and demand.  Will the demand exceed the supply over time?  We know that the supply is fixed.   Thus if the demand is equivalent or higher than it was last year or the next year or the year after that, then the price will increase.   I don’t see any reason to think why the T206 Green Portrait Cobb wouldn’t be worth more in ten years. 

Yet I can see reasons why it might be a bumpy ride.  First, the price has increased significantly, more than doubling in value over the last five years.   As we wrote about in ‘Are We In a Vintage Card Bubble?“, the recent price increase has likely been a function or at the very least helped significantly by the increase in wealth of US consumers. 

A rising stock market, along with easy access to cheap money has more than likely helped fuel a price increase in the price of vintage cards.  A recession or a depressed stock market, might have an effect on vintage cards, but we also discovered that vintage collectors aren’t very quick to sell in times of economic stress.   

I do believe that T206 cards will continue to remain in high demand–there’s just a special allure to the set, for many reasons that we’ve already discussed.  And that demand for T206 spills over to the most well known players, with Cobb included. 

If you have a big stash of T206 cards, this article isn’t meant as a loud warning urging you to sell your cards.  But I would acknowledge that there are areas of maybe better opportunities if you’re a collector that is more attuned to the scarcity of the cards themselves. 

Shoot me a line at chris@allvintagecards.com if you have any questions on the Cobb cards.  And shameless plug, but our sister site https://www.allvintagesearch.com is a great way to search for Cobb’s on eBay.

All Vintage Cards
 

All Vintage Cards is the number one destination for everything related to vintage baseball, basketball, hockey, and football cards. Our love of card collecting and in particular vintage sports cards drives our desire to inform others of the joys of collecting.

>