Ty Cobb Cards: The Definitive Guide

cobb-off-shoulder

Tyrus Raymond Cobb was one of the most fierce, determined and successful baseball players of all time.  

His intensity often got the best of him and despite his immense talents he was known to be hated by many of his peers.

Yet as for his baseball abilities, none will argue that Cobb was among one of the best all around baseball players to ever play the game.

Ty Cobb’s baseball cards remain among the most desired among vintage collectors, ranging from his ever popular T206 Portrait cards to his T3 Turkey Red card

In this piece, we take a look a Ty Cobb’s career as a baseball player, while providing collectors with a list of his most popular and valuable baseball cards.  

Ty Cobb - A Look Back At His Baseball Legacy

Ty Cobb was raised in the south, in a rural community in Banks County Georgia.
He started playing baseball at the age of 10, yet even as Cobb became obsessed with the game, his father pushed him to pursue other careers. 

Cobb's father didn't want him to play baseball, and preferred that he work on the family farm or pursue a career in medicine or law.  Yet, at the age of seventeen, Cobb left home to join a semi-pro baseball league against his father's wishes. Ultimately however, Cobb won over the support of his father, who even encouraged him to keep reaching for his goal to become a professional ballplayer. 

Cobb was a student of the game who became obsessed with being the best at his craft.  Age the age of 15 or 16, he developed his trademark snap swing in which he held the bat with hands apart and well up on the handle, giving him the ability to attack the ball.

“Cobb spent his days studying his baseball rivals and mentally cataloging their tendencies, strengths, and faults, both as players and human beings, since he felt he could exploit both to his professional advantage; many evenings, while his teammates hung out in the hotel lobby (the pastime within the pastime in those potted-palmy days) or hoisted beers, he would sit in his room making notes and sketching plays while listening to classical violinist Fritz Kreisler on the gramophone.”

From 'Ty Cobb - A Terrible Beauty" by Charles Leerhsen

Cobb's obsession to be the best, also led him to engage in bouts of psychological warfare on the diamond.  There are many anecdotal stories about Cobb, such as how he slumped over the plate when Walter Johnson was pitching, since he knew he had issues in hitting batters.  Cobb, ultimately used any possible advantage to outwit opposing players.  In the biography "Ty Cobb" by Charles Alexander, the writer notes that Cobb would often fake a 'limp' when rounding the bases in order to trick opposing players.   There was however, one player that Cobb couldn't intimidate--Honus Wagner.

wagner

"That god damned Dutchman (Honus Wagner) is the only man in the game I can't scare."

-Ty Cobb

When Cobb's career was finished, he was regarded as one the best players to play the game.  His stats speak for themselves;  Cobb's .367 lifetime average remains the highest career batting average for any player of all time as does his record for 12 career batting titles.   Cobb was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936 as one of its inaugural members, receiving the most votes of any other player.  

Ty Cobb's Baseball Cards 

1902-1911 W600 Sporting Life Cabinets - Tyrus R Cobb

Current Value (PSA 2- Good Condition): $300,000+
Current PSA Population: 5

The 1902-1911 Sporting Life Cabinet cards were issued as a mail in bonus for subscribers of the Sporting Life newspaper.  The massive 680 card set is quite scarce with most cards having fewer than 5-10 graded copies combined between both PSA and SGC.  

The cards are over-sized, measuring 5 inches by 7.5 inches, and utilize many photos of the popular Carl Horner.  Many of the photos appear quite similar to the later issued T206 cards, which also leveraged Horner's photos for many of it's beautifully lithographed cards.

w600-cobb

The W600 Cobb card can technically be considered Cobb's rookie card since it was his first major baseball issue.  Due to its scarcity -- PSA and SGC have graded only 6 copies combined - the Cobb W600 is also his most valuable.   As of this writing, a PSA 2 condition Cobb is scheduled to sell for over $300,000.

1909 E95 Philadelphia Caramel - Ty Cobb

Current Value (PSA 2- Good Condition):  $2500
Current PSA Population: 4

The 1909 E95 Philadelphia Caramel set is in my mind a very underrated set, and hence one of the reasons we named the E95 Cobb (along with Wagner and Plank from the same set) to our All Vintage Cards 'Value' Portfolio.

The E95 is one of the more popular early caramel issues and the set at 25 cards is chock full of star power.  Cobb's E95 card features him in a striking portrait pose wearing his pin-striped Detroit Tigers hat backed by a bright red background.

cobb-e95

PSA has graded ~150 copies of the E95 Cobb which makes the card quite scarcer than his more well known T206 White Borders cards.  Below we show the comparison between the T206 Red Portrait and E95 Cobb cards:  note the E95 card is notably scarcer and only sells for a small premium versus the T206 card.  

e95-vs-t206-cobb

1909-1911 E90-1 American Caramel - "Ty" Cobb

Current Value (PSA 2- Good Condition):  $2000
Current PSA Population: 187

The American Caramel Company, based in Philadelphia, issued three separate sets over the course of three years from 1909 thru 1911.  The E90-1 set features 118 cards of players from all teams, whereas the E90-2 set features only Pittsburgh Pirates and the E90-3 set features White Sox and Cubs players.  

The E90-1 Cobb card features a color portrait of Cobb with a stunning green and yellow background.  Compared to many other tobacco issues, the E90-1 card is a bit harder to find with PSA grading only 187 copies to date.  

cobb-e90

In good condition, the card sells for on average $2000, but those in the nicest condition can fetch upwards of six figures.  Note that to date, PSA has only graded two PSA 8 copies.

e90-cobb-prices

1909 E92 Croft's/Nadja - Ty Cobb

Current Value (PSA 2- Good Condition):  $20,000
Current PSA Population: <15

The E92 set was issued with four different backs each representative of a different company advertisement.  The backs include Dockman & Sons, Nadja Caramels, Croft's Cocoa and Croft's Candy.  Dockman and Croft's Candy are among the easiest backs to find, whereas Nadja Caramels carry a premium (see Old Cardboard's site for information on multipliers). 

These are typically considered to be four different sets (based on the backs) by collectors as the Dockman set only includes 40 cards (despite the backs saying there are 50 cards in the set) whereas all of the other 3 have the stated 50 cards (although note that the Najda set features an additional 12 cards).  

The kicker here is that Cobb for some reason was left out of the Dockman set yet was available in all three of the other issues.

Also to confuse things even further, the images in the E92 set are utilized for several other caramel sets issued around the same time.  I've listed those cards here but won't examine each in further detail:

1909 E101 Anonymous "Set of 50"
1909 E102 Anonymous "Set of 25"
1910 E105 Mello Mint
1915 E106 American Caramel
 
e92-cobb

If we examine the population for the Cobb cards, PSA has graded only 3 of the Nadja Caramels card, 8 of the Croft's Candy and 2 of the Croft's Cocoa card, thus making the latter the rarest from a PSA perspective.

1909 W555 Strip Card - Ty Cobb

Current Value (PSA 2- Good Condition):  $​2000
Current PSA Population: <10

I love strip cards, but I'll admit that Cobb's W555 card is my least favorite strip set. The cards are small, black and white and with blank backs.  These were actually hand cut from boxes of candy so the edges are often quite crude, even moreso than oridinary strip cards. 

However, I must mention it here, as it's Cobb's first official strip card, and some debate whether it might actually be Cobb's true rookie card, if we exclude the Sporting Life cabinet card. 

w555-cobb

PSA has only graded ~7 copies, yet even higher graded versions do not get the same attention as his early caramel or tobacco cards.  A good version is worth around $2000, but I've seen collectors with trouble selling these for top dollar.  

1909-1911 T206 Bat On Shoulder - Ty Cobb

Current Value (PSA 2- Good Condition):  $2000
Current PSA Population: 900+

One of the four Cobb cards in the infamous T206 White Borders set, this one is one of the lower price Cobb variations (along with the Bat Off Shoulder).  The card features Cobb in his signature stance with his trademark choked up bat grip.  It's not wonder collectors love the T206 card, just look at the beautiful lithography and yellow background.

t206-cobb-on-bat

PSA has graded over 900 copies of the 'Bat On Shoulder' Cobb, thus it's not a scarce card, but the demand of the T206 set has driven up the Cobb cards to a big time premium.   A good condition Bat on Shoulder card with a common back should run you around $2000, yet of course if it's a rarer back the price will increase based on scarcity.  See our T206 piece which has more information on T206 back multipliers.

cobb-bat-on-psa

1909-1911 T206 Bat Off Shoulder - Ty Cobb

Current Value (PSA 2- Good Condition):  $2000
Current PSA Population: 1000+

The Bat Off Shoulder Cobb is the other non-portrait Cobb card in the T206 set and like the 'Bat On' tends to fetch a slightly lower premium versus his two portrait cards.   It has a slightly higher PSA population versus the 'Bat On Shoulder' card yet tends to sell for right around the same price. 

The card features Cobb in a side view with a beautifully colored background.  While it doesn't have the same popularity as his Portrait cards, it's still one of the most sought after Cobb cards in the hobby.

cobb-off-shoulder

1909-1911 T206 Red Portrait - Ty Cobb

Current Value (PSA 2- Good Condition):  $2300
Current PSA Population: 2100+

The Red Portrait Cobb is the card that has been graded most by PSA and anecdotally the one T206 Cobb that seems to be a bit easier to find then others. 
PSA has graded the Red Portrait Cobb over 2000 times and it tends to sell at a slight premium to his non-portrait cards even despite a much larger population.

cobb-red-background

Collectors looking to add a Red Portait Cobb to their collections can expect to still pay upwards of $1500 or more for a Cobb in even Poor condition.  It would take some sort of apocalypse for these cards to ever lose any value, although the ongoing pandemic could lead to a possible downturn in vintage cards

1909-1911 T206 Green Portrait - Ty Cobb

Current Value (PSA 2- Good Condition):  $5000
Current PSA Population: <10

The Cobb 'Green Portrait' is the mother of all Cobbs in the T206 set and the one that gets all of the attention from vintage collectors.  First it is has about half of the existing PSA population as the Red Portrait Cobb and tends to sell at a significant premium to all of the other Cobbs in the set.  We discussed this premium for the Green Portrait Cobb in detail in this article.  

green-cobb

A good condition Green Portrait sells for on average about $5000, more than double that of any of the other three cards in the set.  A poor condition copy can be found for less but still expect to pay over $2000.

green-cobb-auctions

1911 T205 Gold Border - Ty Cobb

Current Value (PSA 2- Good Condition):  $1400
Current PSA Population: 600+

The T205 Set in general is often overlooked, especially in contrast to the famed T206 set.  While some prefer the white bordered T206 set, the T205 cards are beautiful in their own right.  The striking gold borders and colorful backgrounds make for a very popular set with vintage collectors. 

The Cobb T205 Card is actually rarer than his four T206 cards, based on the PSA Population reports.  This is one of the reasons we named the T205 Cobb to our 'All Vintage Cards Value Portfolio'

cobb-t205
cobb-t205-psa

1911 T3 Turkey Red - Ty Cobb

Current Value (PSA 2- Good Condition):  $4000
Current PSA Population: 100+

I love the Turkey Reds.  Oversized, relatively scarce and absolutely beautiful.

The cards feature a full-size lithograph that was utilized with the T206 cards. 

The Cobb T3 card has been graded only ~110 times by PSA, making the T3 cards a lot harder to find versus the T205 or T206 sets.

t3-cobb

While many collectors would like to own a T3 Cobb, the main issue is affordability. Expect to pay in upwards of $4000 to $5000 for a good condition Cobb T3 card.

t3-cobb-psa

1911 T201 Mecca Double Folders - Crawford/Cobb 

Current Value (PSA 2- Good Condition):  $​400
Current PSA Population: ~400

The T201 Mecca Double Folders set is a unique offering; if the card is open one player is shown and when folded it shows another player.  The T201 Sam Crawford and Ty Cobb Double Folder is an inexpensive way to own a playing day Ty Cobb card; a Good condition copy can often be found for under $500.

t201-cobb

1911 M116 Sporting Life - Ty Cobb

Current Value (PSA 2- Good Condition):  $5000
Current PSA Population: 100+

The M116 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.  

m116-cobb

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.  

1911-1914 D304 General Baking - Ty Cobb

Current Value (PSA 2- Good Condition):  $​20,000
Current PSA Population: <10

One of the hobby’s most coveted early baking card issues, this Ty Cobb card is from the rare D304 General Baking Co. series.   The cards were issued from between 1911 to 1914 with loaves of bread and are often referred to as the “Brunner’s Bread” collection.  

The Cobb card is just a thing of beauty, with its striking colors and a near smile from Cobb, a rarity from the hard edged ball player.  These cards are quite scarce, as many never made it past the dinner table.   

d304-cobb

There is one known PSA 8 graded version of the card, which was last sold for $94K back in 2010.  It would likely get multiple six figures offers in today’s market.  A lower graded copy is still worth a pretty penny--the last sale of a PSA 2.5 in 2018 brought home $14,600 at auction.

d304-cobb-pricing

1912 T227 Series Of Champions - Ty Cobb

Current Value (PSA 2- Good Condition):  $​4500
Current PSA Population: 80+

The T227 Series of Champions Cobb card might possibly be my favorite issue of the "Georgia Peach".  The issue is a 25 card all-sport issue and features the best sports players of the day.  Cobb is one of the four baseball cards in the set - along with Chief Bender, Rube Marquard and Home Run Baker.

The lithographed image is a thing of beauty and showcases Cobb in his Detroit uniform backed by a beautiful yellow background.  PSA has graded less than 100 copies, thus it is one of the harder to find Cobb issues.

t227-cobb

1914 + 1915 Cracker Jack - Ty Cobb #30

1914 Current Value (PSA 2- Good Condition):  $16,000
Current PSA Population: 80+

1915 Current Value (PSA 2- Good Condition):  $10,000
Current PSA Population: 130+

A beautiful set with striking red backgrounds, the cards were issued from 1914 to 1915 in boxes of cracker jack.  While the 1914 set was issued with the cracker jack boxes, in 1915 they offered a mail in program for complete factory sets, making the 1914 issue more of a rarity.   

The Ty Cobb from the 1914 set is a beautiful card, and is one of Cobb’s most sought after issues.  The 1915 issue has the same front and the only difference is that the 1915 issue has an upside down back.  

Roughly 80 1914 Cracker Jack cards have been graded through PSA, while over 130 of the 1915 Cracker Jack issue have been graded by PSA.

1914-cracker-jack-cobb

1915-1916 M101-4 Sporting News - Ty Cobb #38

Current Value (PSA 2- Good Condition):  $5000
Current PSA Population: 30+

This Sporting News issue is a popular and rare set; the black and white photos make for a fantastic goal for many vintage collectors.

The Cobb card is hard to find - PSA has only graded only about 30 copies.  

If you want to add one your collection, expect to pay up--a good condition copy will probably set you back in upwards of $5000.

m101-4-cobb

1919-1921 W514 Strip Card

Current Value (PSA 2- Good Condition):  $600
Current PSA Population: 45

The W514 Strip Card set is one of the better known strip card issues of the 1920's. 

The Cobb card is a very affordable issue and in my mind one of the best Cobb cards for the money.

Given that PSA has graded under 100 copies, this is also one of the rarer Cobb issues.

w514-cobb

1920 W516 Strip Card

Current Value (PSA 2- Good Condition):  $5000
Current PSA Population: <10

The W516 Strip card set tends to leave collectors quite confused due to the issue having five different variations.  

The drawings are quite crude, thus many hate them, although some collectors (myself included) find the issue to be underrated.  

Still, this is another inexpensive way for collectors to own a playing day Cobb card for $500 or under.

w516-1-cobb

1921 W461 Exhibits - Ty Cobb

Current Value (PSA 2- Good Condition):  $​1000
Current PSA Population: 50+

The inaugural Exhibit set, issued in 1921 featured 64 cards with a photograph front along with the player’s name featured in cursive writing and the team name below.  The 1921 set is chock full of stars and features a highly sought after playing day Babe Ruth card.  PSA has graded only around 50 of the Cobb W461 Exhibit card and at around $1000 I find it to be a great longer term investment for collectors.

exhibit-cobb

1922 E121 - American Caramel Series Of 120 - Ty Cobb 

Current Value (PSA 2- Good Condition):  $​1000
Current PSA Population: 100+

There are two different Ty Cobb cards in the American Caramel E121 set.  The one shown below is known as the 'Batting' issue, there is also another 'Throwing' card. Both cards have roughly the same total PSA population with around 100 in total having been graded.  The cards are fairly reasonable with both usually available for around $1000 in Poor to Good condition. 

e121-cobb-batting
e121-cobb

1923 W515 Strip Card - Ty Cobb

Current Value (PSA 2- Good Condition):  $5000
Current PSA Population: <100

Crude, yes?  Ugliest card of all time?  Maybe.  But if you like strip cards, this one is a must own for any Cobb collector.  Check out our profile on the W515 set for a closer look at the two variations.

PSA has graded less than 60 of the W515-1 issue and less than 20 of the W515-2 'Little Wonder' issue. Thus the W515-2 card does carry a premium due to the relative scarcity between the two cards.

w515-2-cobb

A good condition W515-1 Cobb usually sells for $500 or more thus if you want to get your hands on an inexpensive Cobb card, this might be a good one to add to your collection. 

w515-cobb

1932 US Caramel -  Ty Cobb #14

Current Value (PSA 2- Good Condition):  $​1500
Current PSA Population: 80+

The 1932 US Caramel set was an all-sport issue featuring 32 of the best baseball, boxer and golf players of the day.  Cobb's card was issued after Cobb's retirement. 

It is fairly tough to find, with less than 100 copies graded by PSA.  A Good condition copy sells on the market for roughly $1500.

1932-us-caramel-cobb
cobb-us-caramel

1933 Goudey Sports Kings #1

Current Value (PSA 2- Good Condition):  $​1000
Current PSA Population: ~600

The Goudey Sports Kings set was another multi-sport issue and was also issued after Cobb's retirement.  The issue is much easier to find versus the 1932 US Caramel card, yet expect to spend $1000 or more for a good condition copy.

1933-goudey-sports-kings-cobb
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.

>