Presented is a T215 Pirate Cigarettes card of Heinie Wagner from the Boston Red Sox. 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 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 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 2013, REA had the honor of offering a collection of five previously unaccounted for examples. As described in 2013, those five cards were 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 with 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. This card represents only the seventh example we have ever offered! 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 SGC. 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 perfectly clean, both front and back, with four sharp corners and centered slightly toward the bottom. There is a diagonal crease in the upper-right portion of the card and a tiny surface indentation below his left ear, otherwise it has an 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 $2,500. Estimate $5,000+.
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