1912 T207 Brown Background Blackburne - Rare "Red Cross" Back - One of Only Five Examples Known

Sold For: $9,400

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 400

Item Year: 1912

Category: Prewar Baseball Cards (1900-1941)

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Graded VG 3 by PSA. Presented is one of card collecting's most astoundingly rare tobacco cards: a T207 Brown Background with a Red Cross back. This the first T207 Red Cross back sample we have ever even seen in person, let alone presented at auction! This example features Russell Blackburne, Chicago Americans. It is the only T207 Red Cross Blackburne known and may be the finest in terms of condition of the five T207 Red Cross back examples known. They were not even listed in the American Card Catalog , and to the best of our knowledge were completely undiscovered and unknown until the 1980s when they were formally documented for the very first time in Lew Lipset's Encyclopedia of Baseball Cards Volume 3 - 20th Century Tobacco Cards published in 1986. Of special note is the fact that this very card was the plate specimen for the T207 Red Cross back in this groundbreaking volume. At the time of the Encyclopedia 's publication, a total of four Red Cross examples were known to exist, and all came from a single find in Louisiana. Each of these four cards had a very small area of glue residue at the top of the reverses, apparently relating to long ago being glued into an album. Since the discovery of these four miracle cards, only one additional verified T207 Red Cross card has surfaced (a very low-grade example of Lange). The Red Cross back sample is one of the most extreme rarities in all of card collecting, tobacco or otherwise, and is a virtually impossible-to-obtain sample and key T207 rarity. It is far rarer than any other T205, T206, or T207 front or advertising back rarity, some of which sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars (including Wagner, the rare Doyle, etc.). They are virtually nonexistent.

Even though all Red Cross Tobacco cards (including T215) were distributed in the Louisiana area, the factory they were printed in was in New Jersey. It is also interesting to note that all T207 Red Cross feature Chicago players. Our best guess is that this is not a coincidence, may define the T207 Red Cross set, and relates to their great rarity. The obverse of this card, as noted, features Russell Blackburne of Chicago in a portrait pose. The reverse has boldly printed text, which makes for an ideal example. This is an outstanding and extremely striking card. The image on the card is very bold, with flawless clarity and contrast, no creases, and centered to the extreme bottom. A tiny pinpoint spot of a stain in the middle of the top edge of the reverse was somehow removed, possibly with water, a dab of bleach, and utilizing a "q-tip" as a tool (the tiny stain is clearly seen in the picture used to produce Lipset’s book; we have provided an image on our website for comparison). There is a minor surface wear which has affected the bottom right of the printed text. This is an exceptional example of an astonishing rarity that is noteworthy to even the most advanced tobacco-card collectors and scholars. Reserve 2,500. Estimate $5,000+.

SOLD FOR $9,400

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