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1909-1911 T206 "Slow Joe" Doyle, NY Nat'l (Hands Above Head Pose) - The Real Deal!

  • Sold For: $329,000
  • Year: 1909
  • Auction: 2009 spring
  • Lot #: 891
  • Auction Category: The Charlie Conlon Collection

Presented is the first rare T206 Doyle, N. Y. Nat'l (hands over head pose) error card that we have ever offered. Graded VG-EX 50 by SGC. Piedmont 350 back. Perfectly centered. Bright and clean, both front and back. Even corner wear. No creases. This card is The Real Deal! This is the legendary Charlie Conlon T206 Doyle example.

The T206 Doyle error card is by far the rarest card in the entire T206 set. It is a very significant card in the set, and one that cannot be dismissed or ignored in any true complete T206 checklist. It is more than ten times rarer than the T206 Honus Wagner. The rare T206 Doyle was unchecklisted and completely unknown until the 1970s, when Larry Fritsch, while sorting through thousands of T206s, discovered it. No one had ever noticed the card before, which is all the more understandable given its great rarity. Fritsch kept his discovery as quiet as he could, but naturally drew attention to the card when for years he advertised extensively to purchase any and all T206 Joe Doyle hands over head cards in the hopes of finding additional examples.

For many years, Charlie Conlon and Larry Fritsch were the only collectors known to have this extreme T206 rarity. Over the past twenty years, several additional examples have allegedly been discovered, though the authenticity of some of the other known examples is highly questionable. In the 1990s (long before current management) SGC famously encapsulated a fraudulent Doyle by mistake; to its credit it immediately bought the card back, guaranteeing its product, and taking it off the market. Mistakes happen. To the best of our knowledge, only approximately seven authentic rare Doyle cards exist. This number includes the offered SGC-graded Conlon example, which is the only authentic rare T206 Doyle, NY Nat'l ever graded by SGC to date. We believe that only approximately three or four authentic rare T206 Doyle, NY Nat'l (hands above heads pose) cards have ever been graded by PSA or SGC combined, and that the offered example may even be the highest-ever graded authentic example of the legendary rare T206 Doyle error card.

What is the T206 Doyle error card and why should T206 collectors care?

At a glance, without thinking about what the card is and why it is rare, we could see a collector looking at the rare T206 Doyle and say, "OK, so the identification text at the bottom of the card reads "Doyle, NY Nat'l" as opposed to "Doyle, N. Y." Who cares? So a few letters were left off. So what?

But these letters did not just mysteriously "disappear" from the normally T206 Doyle cards. The "Nat'l" was intentionally removed from the plate by the printer, and furthermore, was done so to correct an error. An important fundamental point to understanding the nature and significance of the rare T206 Doyle is that the rarity of the NY Nat'l variety is due to the printer's REMOVAL of the "Nat'l" - not the adding of it. The image on the hand over head Doyle pose is Joe Doyle of the New York Americans. But when the card was first printed, Joe Doyle, as seen on the rare error card, was listed as with the New York Nationals. This was an error. And it was actually a pretty understandable error. This is because Larry Doyle played for the New York Nationals. The manufacturer of the T206 set got its Doyles mixed up. This is the cause of the rare Doyle error.

When the printer discovered very early in the print run that an error had been made, that the image on this card was Joe Doyle of the New York Americans (as opposed to Larry Doyle of the New York Nationals), rather than correcting the league designation on the card (changing it from ‘Nat'l’ to ‘Amer.’), the league designation was simply removed entirely from the printing plate. This was probably just easier to do than to change "Nat'l" to "Amer." So by REMOVING the "Nat'l" they corrected the misidentification of Joe Doyle (of the NY Americans) as Larry Doyle of the NY Nationals, because both Doyles were with New York teams (just with different New York teams). This was done very early in the print run. Thus almost all known Doyle hands-over-head pitching pose cards in the T206 set are identified with just ‘N.Y.,’ as the error cards identifying the league designation as ‘Nat'l’ were corrected almost immediately. This is what explains the great rarity of the ‘NY Nat'l’ variation. Similarly, when the printer discovered that Sherry Magee's name was misspelled "Magie" on his portrait card, that error was corrected, creating a different rare error card in the T206 set (though not in the same league in terms of rarity compared as Doyle).

For many years the great rarities of the T206 set were "Wagner, Plank, and Magie" and these three cards were universally referred to by T206 collectors as "The Big 3." Since the discovery of the rare "Doyle, N.Y. Nat'l," the term representing the extreme rarities of the T206 set has been renamed "The Big 4," and this phrase is commonly used to refer to the cards that are not expected to be included with a T206 set that is otherwise complete. The fame and value of the original "Big 3" is a testament both to their rarity and the unrivaled popularity of the T206 set. The Doyle, however, is actually in its own league in terms of rarity. It is a virtually impossible-to-obtain T206 rarity unlike any other. Only two rare T206 Doyle examples have ever been sold in catalog auctions. The first was a PSA 2 Good example that sold for $178,598 in August 2000, and a second example sold in August 2003 for $64,099. There have been no public sales since. In addition, when the Doyle card was brought to the attention of the collecting world for the very first time in a one card 1987 Sports Collectors Digest auction, it sold to Larry Fritsch for $10,000. This landmark sale brought out another authentic example that was offered several months later in 1987 by legendary collector/dealer/auctioneer Lew Lipset (author of The Encyclopedia of Baseball Cards), also in a Sports Collectors Digest auction. That card, which has never been graded and is still in the collection of the original buyer from the 1987 Lew Lipset auction, sold for $19,000, which at that time was the highest price ever paid for a baseball card at auction. This is the first time REA has ever had the opportunity to offer and properly document the significance of the rare T206 Doyle. We hope we have done justice to one of card collecting's greatest and most elusive rarities, explaining the nature of the card, and properly recognizing its great significance as by far the rarest card in the famous T206 set. Reserve $25,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $329,000

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