RARER THAN HONUS
7 cards rarer than the T206 Honus Wagner
It has been estimated that about 50 to 75 examples of the 1909 T206 Honus Wagner Exist. The T206 Wagner is the most famous and expensive trading card in the world. While it is indeed rare, many wrongly believe that it is the rarest baseball card. The following are just a few examples of cards rarer than the T206 Wagner. While you may have heard of one or two these cards, most are unknown to the general collecting public.
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Frederick Foto Babe Ruth, circa 1921. Three examples known. Little is known about this card and the set it came from. The card is about the size of a T206 card, and is comprised of a photograph pasted to a cardboard mount. There are over one hundred different cards in the set, most depicting players in the Pacific Coast League. Frederic Foto was the official photographer for the PCL’s Sacramento Senators, and the cards were distributed in Northern California. The purpose of the cards is unknown.
M131 Baltimore News Series Ty Cobb, circa 1911. Only one example known. The M131 Baltimore News card has the same front images and set checklist as the 1911 E94 George Close Co. issue, but have the Baltimore News Logo on the back.
1956 Bowman Set. This set doesn’t exist. Bowman Gum Company of Brooklyn New York had a brief but important career as issuers of baseball cards. Their 1948 issue was the first major issue after World War II. During the early 1950s they were worthy competitors to the powerful Topps Chewing Gum Company, also of Brooklyn, producing some of the classic cards of the era, including the only rookie cards of Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays and the 1954 Bowman Ted Williams short print. Many collectors consider the 1953 Bowman Color set to be the most beautiful of the era.
Following the 1955 set, Bowman was planning its next set. The above shows the artwork for the potential designs. The upper left design is much like the Bowman Color set. The upper right ‘knothole’ design was later possibly borrowed for the 1958 Hires Root beer Set. The bottom design is similar to the 1957 Topps football set.
Which design they would have used, we will never know. Topps bought out its bubble gum competitor and the cards were never issued.
1913 Fatima Premium New York Nationals. The Fatima Premiums are one of the rarest and physically largest tobacco cards of the 20th century. The 20” X 13” cards are comprised of a gelatin-silver photograph pasted to a larger gray mount. The images are nearly identical to the more common though still desirable T200 Fatima cards. The postcard sized T200 cards were inserted into Liggett & Meyers tobacco products. A collector could send in forty of the T200 cards for the large premium. Due to their enormous size, the cards are rarely found in high condition. The above premium of the New York Giants includes Jim Thorpe (first row, far left), Rube Marquard (back row, sixth from left), Christy Mathewson (back row, seventh from left) and Manager John McGraw (bottom row, seventh from left).
Otto Treulich & Son Grover Cleveland Alexander Trade Card, 1920s. This rare photographic trade card for a Chicago clothiers, measures 2-3/4” X 3-1/2” and pictures the great pitcher, Alexander. The faux inscription on the front says ‘Sincerely yours, G.C. Alexander.’ The white back has the Otto Trulich & Son stamped in blue.
1878 Buffalo Bisons trade card, featuring Pud Galven. One example known.
1927 Honey Boy Ice Cream Babe Ruth. An article describing this set can be read in The Vintage Collector (click here)