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1909-1911 T206 Old Mill - Single Factory Overprint Back - Extreme Back Rarity!!!

  • Sold For: $19,975
  • Year: 1909
  • Auction: 2010 Spring
  • Lot #: 249
  • Auction Category: Prewar Baseball - T Tobacco Cards

Presented is an example of one of the most astoundingly rare and interesting of all T206 advertising reverses and a true legendary T206 rarity: the Ed Greminger Southern League Old Mill Factory Overprint "˜Factory 649 - District 1 - State NY."™ It would be impossible for us to do justice to the entire story of this card in a simple catalog description. It would require an entire catalog all by itself. It might require a movie! Here's the short version: Only two T206 Old Mill Overprints are known to exist. One is the offered card of Greminger, Montgomery. Lew Lipset's The Encyclopedia of Baseball Cards , Vol. 3: 20th Century Tobacco Cards-1902-1932 , published in 1986, illustrates all of the T206 backs and includes an Old Mill with overprint bar (Sweet Caporal style solid red bar overprint with factory 649, as seen here). It is this very card of Ed Greminger that is pictured as the plate specimen in Lipset's Encyclopedia of Baseball Cards. In fact, this card was actually purchased many years ago by our consignor, an extremely advanced T206 back collector, directly from Lew Lipset. The only other known example of a T206 Old Mill overprint is a T206 Foster, Charleston, with two red bar factory 649 overprints on the reverse. That card appeared in a December 1998 Ron Oser auction. This Greminger card is the authentic Old Mill Overprint card that inspired one of tobacco-card collecting's most elaborate and unlikely frauds: the production and sale of the fake T206 Old Mill overprints by the owner of This was an extremely elaborate fraud that confused the collecting world for years and which was only uncovered in 2009 by virtue of the considerable joint efforts and investigative talents of several extremely dedicated scholars of collecting and the attention of the FBI, which, armed with the information provided, single-handedly put a stop to the fraud and saw to it that all injured parties became whole. One of the many fascinating aspects of the case was that the factory 649 bar overprints on the fakes were in black, while the overprints on the two authentic examples are in red. This is no doubt related to the simple fact that the illustrations in the The Encyclopedia of Baseball Cards,Vol. 3: 20th Century Tobacco Cards-1902-1932 are printed in black-and-white! This alone did not define the cards as fakes, however, as authentic overprints could have been printed in black. But they weren't. Even if the fakes had been created using the correct colors, the fraud would have been discovered anyway, as the color of the print was not what defined the fraud cards as fakes or alerted the card detectives there was a problem, but it is a fascinating and amusing element to the story. (Note: none of the fakes are in circulation; all have been destroyed.)

While we cannot possibly do justice here to the entire story of intrigue, crime, and hobby history of the fake overprint cards, the following two links can. One is the formal report created by John McDaniel that was submitted to the FBI and, later, unveiled to the collecting world on Net54, the popular message-board site devoted to vintage card collecting. The second link is a direct link to John's public presentation of the report and story on Net54. The brilliance and professional quality of John's work speaks for itself. The story of the Old Mill overprints that is documented here is one of the most fascinating dramas to ever unfold in the history of vintage-card collecting. Personally, we feel the perpetrator of the fraud is sorry, and we do know he has made all his victims whole. We don't think there is anything more people can ask of him, and we find the site to be a valuable archive of information that provides a positive service to collectors. (In other words, we believe in giving people second chances; just don't go ordering any rare overprints from this site!)

Back to the card:

The Southern League Old Mill Factory Overprint backs are the rarest of all T206 back rarities, and an almost-impossible stumbling block to a complete T206 back-variety collection. They are far rarer than Broad Leaf 460 backs, Lenox (Brown) backs, or even Ty Cobb Tobacco backs. With only two examples known, they are virtually nonexistent. This is the first authentic example that we have ever seen, let alone offered. The obverse of this card features Ed Greminger of Montgomery in a portrait pose. The reverse has a boldly printed factory overprint, which makes for an ideal example. This is an extraordinary card that is worthy of the most advanced T206 or rare sample-card collection. There has always been great interest in rare T206 advertising backs, and in recent years, we have seen more collectors assembling T206 back collections than ever before. We fully acknowledge that a strong case can be made that the T206 Old Mill Overprint back is not truly an advertising-back variation, but a printing anomaly. Whatever it is, the Southern League Old Mill Factory Overprint back is one of the extreme rarities that are of great interest to T206 collectors and in the eyes of many completists keeps just about every T206 back collection from completion. The fact that the factory overprint is so bold makes this a particularly exceptional example to represent this almost-never-seen T206 back, missing from virtually every T206 advertising-back collection. And perhaps just as important: Collectors love cards with a story. We're not sure any card can top the story that accompanies this fascinating T206 rarity. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open).

SOLD FOR $19,975

Robert Edward Auctions
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