“Say it ain’t Slow Joe” (Doyle)!

Published by Robert Lifson on Tagged Uncategorized


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T206 PSA Label Error Carries On Long-Standing Tradition!

This story is not about Joe Jackson but we couldn’t resist the headline. It’s actually about “Slow Joe” Doyle and his T206 card (hands-over-head pose). Long ago, PSA happened to have mislabeled this card (a very rare occurrence). Instead of getting the label corrected, we thought that in this case it would be appropriate and far more interesting to collectors for us to leave it exactly as we received it from our consignor, and use the mislabeled card to tell the story of one of collecting’s greatest and least understood rarities. This card will appear in REA’s April 2009 auction. The catalog description appears below:

1909-1911 T206 “Slow Joe” Doyle - PSA NM-MT 8 (PSA Label Error)

Graded NM-MT 8 by PSA. New York, hands above head pose. Highest graded! This is naturally a fascinating card in the T206 set. This particular example, however, is all the more fascinating as it was mislabeled by PSA as “Larry Doyle (NY, Nat’l throwing pose)”. The confusion between Joe Doyle and Larry Doyle for this T206 pose is not unique to this PSA label. It  goes all the way back to 1909! In fact, this confusion is responsible for causing the incredibly rare “Doyle NY Nat’l” variation in the T206 set. When the T206 set was printed, The American Tobacco Company originally got their Doyles mixed up, thinking the image of Joe Doyle on this card was Larry Doyle of the New York Nationals, and originally identifying him as being with the “N.Y. Nat’l” team (Larry Doyle’s team). When it was discovered very early in the print run that an error had been made, that the image on this card was actually 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. 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 explains the great rarity of the “NY Nat’l” variation. Only a few “Doyle NY, Nat’l” examples are known to have survived, and an authentic example of this impossibly rare error card would very likely sell for over $100,000 even in low grade.

To be clear, the offered card of Joe Doyle is NOT the rare error card, but an extremely high-grade example of the  more common “Doyle, NY” variety (a very desirable card in its own right) with the PSA error label misidentifying it as “Larry Doyle, NY Nat’l”. PSA is not alone in making this identification error. They are in good company! In Lot #790 in the May 2008 REA auction (link: http://www.robertedwardauctions.com/auction/2008/790.html), which presented a collection of seven signed T206 cards, even Larry Doyle himself was confused, signing a T206 card of Joe Doyle! If The American Tobacco Company and even Larry Doyle himself can be confused by this card, we can forgive PSA for making this same error. We realize that the mislabeling of this card has created an inaccuracy in the PSA Population Report, but in light of the long-standing confusion between Joe Doyle and Larry Doyle in the T206 set, and its significance to the incredible rarity of the T206 “Doyle NY Nat’l” variation card, we think the card has a little more charm misidentified. We realize we may be in the minority on this, but that’s what we think! (Please note: We also realize that as the highest-graded T206 example of this card, it may be an important addition to a PSA Registry set, and it can always be relabeled properly if desired).

This extremely high-grade T206 of Joe Doyle has a striking blue background, four razor-sharp corners, and perfect registration. Centered very slightly to the top border (40/60). Bright, crisp, and clean, a little short top to bottom, with a hint of toning and what, to our eye, is a very slightly imperfect sharp cut along the top border. In our opinion, this card has been very slightly trimmed, though someone else could have a different opinion. Sweet Caporal advertising on reverse. Based on the PSA Population Report, this is a particularly difficult card to find in extremely high grade. In addition to being the highest-graded example, this is also a card with a unique story and significance to the famous T206 set. SMR value  is $850. Reserve $300. Estimate $500+.

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