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1912 T215 Pirate Cigarettes Fred Merkle
Starting Bid - $1,000.00, Sold For - $10,665.00
Presented is a T215 Pirate Cigarettes card of New York Giants infielder Fred Merkle. This is one of an amazing collection of five T215 Pirates examples presented in this auction. T215 Pirates Cigarettes are among the most legendary rarities in all of card collecting. They are so rare that little is known with certainty about their distribution, but they are believed to have been issued exclusively to American servicemen in the South Seas. Pirate Cigarette cards were produced by W. D. & W. H. Wells, a British tobacco company. The fronts are identical to those used in the T206 set and the T215 (Type 1) Red Cross tobacco-card set. The fact that Pirate Cigarette cards and Red Cross have both at times been identified by the same T215 catalog designation is confusing, especially since the designs of the sets are so similar (both to each other and to T206), but they are so rare that this dual listing is not really much of an issue for collectors. There is no confusing the extraordinary rarity of the Pirate-back cards. They are practically nonexistent. In 2007, an extraordinary collection of ninety-six different Pirate cards surfaced and was sold as a collection. It will remain intact, leaving the available population of sample cards from this legendary set at the same modest level. REA offered its first (and then only) example in 2008. At that time, it was the only one we had ever even seen in person, and we had only heard of the existence of a total of approximately five additional samples in the entire collecting world. In this auction, we are extremely pleased to be able to offer five examples that until consigned to this auction we had no idea existed! They have been in our consignor's collection since the 1990s when he bought them from a dealer who, if the story is recalled correctly, claimed to have traded for them from the legendary Sir Edward Wharton Tigar (one of the greatest of all pioneer collectors, whose collection is now housed in the British Museum in London). While we have no way to verify this story, we can't help but think it is certainly plausible. One thing that is certain is that the cards exist and they are here, presented in this auction! Five different examples wouldn't be a sizable offering for almost any other issue, but for the T215 Pirate Cigarettes, it is the second-largest group to ever be available at one time. The rare Pirate Cigarette backs are printed in green and feature a cigarette pack with a pirate standing on a ship. This card is encapsulated as "Authentic" by PSA. We believe that most of the known T215 Pirates, outside of those from the large collection of ninety-six, were possibly cut from a sheet and would more accurately be described as hand-cut. This card is bright, fresh, and clean, both front and back. Well-centered with four sharp corners; on the reverse are two extremely light surface creases of no consequence (barely noticeable on the reverse and not noticeable from the front); otherwise Excellent to Mint in appearance. This is an outstanding example of one of card collecting's rarest and most fascinating tobacco-card issues, and one of sample-card collecting's most elusive rarities. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $2,500+. SOLD FOR $10,665.00
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