Ty Cobb is synonymous with the dead ball era of baseball. Most of his 22-year career was spent with the Detroit Tigers. This Hall of Fame inductee had a very colorful life, both on and off the field. Also, he was one of the few players, who performed the dual function of player and manager. Ty Cobb baseball cards and autographs are among the most sought after in the hobby.
Collecting Ty Cobb memorabilia
Cobb’s original baseball cards have been collected for decades. Every generation of collector rightfully views him as one of the greatest baseball players of all-time. Validating his popularity, Cobb was named to Major League Baseball’s All Century Team.
Because he excelled in so many areas of the game, many collectible subsets have him included. Examples would be the following: .300 batting club, 3,000 hit club, Hall of Famers, stolen base leaders and many more.
Even though Cobb spent the 1927 and 1928 seasons with the Philadelphia Athletics, team collectors associate him with the Tigers and Detroit team collectors view Cobb as a pinnacle card in their team sets.
Cobb's personality, brash as it was during his playing days, probably helps his status. He's considered one of the game's most feared tough guys.
Investment quality of Ty Cobb cards
Cobb, like stocks within the Dow Jones Industrial Average, is considered a blue-chip player and investment. His cards steadily and consistently appreciate in value, especially when viewed over five and ten year time horizons.
There are enough issues of his cards to provide liquidity, while maintaining scarcity at higher grades. For investors, who wish to add Cobb to their investment portfolios, they should look at both cards and autographs. Each presents their own, unique opportunities.
Ty Cobb autographs
Cobb lived until 1961 and signed autographs for many years after his playing days, although he wasn't exactly a man about town. He was a prodigious letter writer and many Cobb letters have made their way into the marketplace (there are usually a few on eBay via this link and they are fascinating--even those simply responding to fans). Prices vary dramatically. Thhere are a lot of autographs in the market, but still not enough to keep up with collector and investor demand. Be sure to buy with a certificate of authenticity from a leader in the field such as JSA or PSA.
A fairly large quantity of Cobb signed checks also exist and with forgery still an issue in the industry, a signed check is one way to collect authentic signatures without much worry. Expect to pay at least $1,200-$2,000 for one.
Below are some of the most popular Cobb cards in the marketplace, although by no means does the list showcase all of those from his playing career. Click the title of each to see that particular issue being offered by eBay sellers.
Top Ty Cobb Baseball Cards to Watch
(click the links to see them for sale and auction)
1912 T202 Hassan Cobb and Jennings/Ty Cobb Steals Third– This card, like no other, captures the true grit and determination of the player. The middle of the multi-player tobacco issue features a photo of Cobb sliding into third base. With Hughie Jennings sharing space with Cobb on this rectangular issue, you can't lose. Cobb also appears on other combinations in the T202 set.
1914, 1915 Cracker Jack--The 1914 Cracker Jack set is exceedingly rare but collectors can find 1915 Cracker Jack Ty Cobb cards in the market. They're still quite scarce and expensive. However, the sets are very popular because of Cobb's stature, the desirability of the set itself and Cracker Jack's still iconic status in American culture.
1911 T205 Gold Border – A lithograph portrait of Ty Cobb is featured on the front of the card. The gold border gives this one an elegant quality but they are also prone to showing wear because of it. Like the T206 issue, these come with various cigarette brand ads on the back and the less common brands can command big money. However, the best advice is to buy the best quality Cobb you can afford. Mid-grade examples can be found for $2,000 and less but near mint issues will run into the tens of thousands.
1909 E95 Philadelphia Caramel – If you're looking for the quintessential Cobb portrait, this might be it. The E95 baseball card set is attractive and popular but Cobb's card is spectacular. Standing in the collared uniform with the famous Tigers cap on his head, Cobb’s lithograph portrait is set against a red background. The card is a more economical alternative to the T206 issue and around ten can usually be found on eBay with prices reflecting the smaller number of cards available compared to T205 and T206 Cobb cards.
1909-1911 T206 -- How popular was Cobb? Popular enough to have four different card issued in this set, which was produced during the height of his career. There are two portrait cards, one picturing him with a bat on his shoulder and another with the bat just off his shoulder. T206 cards were produced with several different types of cigarette ads on the back and the most rare examples of these will command the highest prices and be in demand but so will higher grade T206 Cobbs, regardless of back.
Of course, the rarest Cobb card is the T206 style with the 'Ty Cobb Tobacco' back. Issued only in tins of a brand of tobacco endorsed by Cobb, only a small number exist and they sell for huge prices. In 2013, a PSA 1 example sold for $120,109 via Goldin Auctions.
Ty Cobb baseball cards and autographs have proven to be a worthy investment and it's unlikely that will change. Cobb's status as one of the game's greatest players remains intact. You'll have competition in the marketplace, but compare prices of completed sales and bid or buy accordingly.
You can see the 'most watched' Cobb cards on eBay here.