A few weeks ago, Chris over at the blog Nachos Grande, tossed out a suggestion for a 'Blog Bat Around' topic: In this case, the hardest set you/we/I have tried to complete, am trying to complete, etc. Seemed liked a cool idea, so I figured I'd use it as a chance to show off my quest to complete a T205 back run of George Gibson. Here is my post about the T206 back run, if you're interested.
First, a bit about the T205 set.
The set was issued in 1911 by the American Tobacco Company (same company behind T206s).
The card are about the same size, and do feature assorted tobacco brands on the back, but unlike the T206s, they have gold, instead of white, borders, and the logos on the back are much smaller. Filling that extra space is a brief bio of the player, and a few years of stats.
And though the T205 set does have some short prints that can be difficult, the set is less than half of the size of the T206 set. A couple of great sites for info about T205s can be found here:
So, Mr. Gibson.
As far as I can tell, there are 8 backs available for Gibson in this set.
Honest Long Cut
Piedmont (Factory 25 and 42)
When I first started assembling this back set (about 10 years ago), nobody that I talked to (including some advanced T205 collectors) had any record of their being a Piedmont 42 or American Beauty of Gibson. The Hassan or Honest Long Cut was unknown, too, but I can't remember which.
The five cards shown above are the five I have, so far. Actually, I have an Honest Long Cut too, but don't have a scan handy. That leaves me needing three: Sweet Caporal, the American Beauty and the Polar Bear.
Neither the Sweet Caporal nor the Polar Bear are particularly though, though the Polar Bear seems to be susceptible to staining, so finding a decent one for a fair price can be tough. With a bit of luck, and some timing, I am confident I can grab a Sweet Caporal and a Polar Bear this year.
The American Beauty, on the other hand, is a whole other level of tough. I have seen two or three in over 10 years. The first one I saw was on eBay when the AB was not a confirmed Gibson back. It was listed at a price that I was uncomfortable taking a risk at, at the time. It got re-listed multiple times before finally selling. I'd gladly buy the card today at any of those eBay prices I saw. A chance late last year to get one slipped through my fingers by a matter of a day; I'm not optimistic I'll see another chance anytime soon.
But that's part of the fun! I'm in no rush to complete this back run, but that's a good thing, because it may not matter if I am ;)