Wednesday, September 16, 2009

1921 W516-2-1 Baseball #5, Ty Cobb

We find today's guest in an unfamiliar role: on the field, with a glove, just moving to one side. No incredible batting skills, no legging out a double, and no savage slides with spikes high. Other than a certain set of the Georgia Peach's jaw, this card could be anyone. Is it the only time he failed to stand out from a crowd?

Card front (blank back)

I'll leave aside Cobb's legendary temper and vitriol in favor of interesting aspects of the card and W516 issue itself. As a lefty batter, you could miss that he fielded right-handed, so the glove should be on his left hand. That identifies this card as a reversed image. (Check the southeast corner for confirmation, where "IRC (c)" is also a mirror-image of what it should be.)

While W516s look like a fairly typical strip card issue, the catalog number comprises 3 distinct issues that share a common list of players. Old Cardboard does a great job profiling their differences and respective checklists. As a reversed image with typeset name, my Cobb's officially a W516-2-1. Fortunately, this gaffe doesn't detract from an interesting horizontal layout and vibrant background. Against all strip card odds, I'd want this for my collection, #5 or not.

UPDATE: Saw this purported W516-2-1 Cobb on eBay. It uses handwritten text with name/position on the right, though, so looks like a W516-1-2 instead of the typeset version above.

Horizontal W516 strip cards normally cut along the dotted line below, with name/position at left. This Cobb might be badly mis-cut or could be another W516-related card issue.

UPDATE: Found this W516-2-3 on eBay, to see what the corrected version (with type-set name and position) looks like.

Value: W516s probably hold the title of cheapest Cobb from his playing days. I plucked this one off eBay in 2004 for the low, low price of $26. Another trimmed version appeared in a $20 box at the 2008 National. Online sellers usually ask a lot more (tsk tsk), but it should be your best shot at the legendary Tiger outfielder for reasonable money.

Fakes / reprints: They might be out there (being Cobb), but I haven't seen any personally.

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