Sunday, January 17, 2010

Newest custom card: T202 Triplefolder Honus Wagner

As promised several days ago, here is my latest custom card creation.
It's done in the style of the 1912 Hassan Triplefolders that have been known to generations of collectors as T202, the set's number in the pioneering American Card Catalog by Jefferson Burdick.
There were 132 different cards in the original T202 set, comprised of 110-120 or so black-and-white center panels with various combinations of color end panels featuring teammates or rivals. For the most part the end panels were cropped versions of the players' cards from the previous year's T205 Gold Borders set.

My T202 homage features a couple of Pittsburg (that's how it was spelled at the time) Pirates who did not appear in the original T202s. Max Carey was only in his first full major league season in 1911 when the T205s were issued. His "rookie card" appeared in 1912 in the T207 Brown Background set. The portrait I used for this card is that used on his T207, though I tweaked the color a bit and "flopped" it to have him facing the center panel.

Wagner, of course, had made his displeasure at being pictured on a cigarette card known to the tobacco company in 1909, when his card was pulled from the T206 set. The picture I used on my T202 is one that appeared on a circa 1910 celluloid pinback.

The central action photo is something I stumbled across on the internet. It is so close to the one used on the classic T202 card, "Ty Cobb Steals Third," that when I first saw it, I knew a T202 creation was in my future.

Despite having collected baseball cards for decades, I've never owned an original T202, so I had to solicit a lot of help from the experts to broaden my card-making into this format. Most instrumental was T202 guru Lee Behrens who provided some original scans and some valuable critique as the project developed. Thanks, Lee!

Another collector, on viewing my T205 versions of the Carey and Wagner cards, told me something I never knew about T205s (and, by extension, T202). The National Leaguers in those sets feature the first use of a facsimile autograph on a baseball card. At least I always thought about it as a facsimile signature. It turns out that the signatures on the cards made no attempt to replicate the players' actual autographs; they were just identification applied by some long-gone commercial artists working on the T205/T202 issues.

By the time I fould that out, I'd already become attached to the actual signatures of Carey and Wagner, so I decided to go with those for my cards.

You'll notice that the signature on the Wagner reads, "John H Wagner." In reality, his name (as shown on my card back) was John Peter Wagner. My best guess is that by the 1910s, Wagner had capitulated to popular demand and that the "H" on this version of his signature was intended to represent his universally-known nickname of Honus. In fact, I've seen later Wagner autographs that are signed, "J. Honus Wagner."

I have one more T202-style card on my immediate to-do list of custom card projects. Be sure to watch this space for it.

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