Ultra-Scarce 1914 "Color" Boston Garter – Ty Cobb (Beckett "Authentic") – One of Only Two Encapsulated Examples on ALL Population Reports
One of the scarcest baseball card issues extant continues to be the ultra-colorful oversized Boston Garters manufactured by the George Frost Company of Boston, Mass. Three separate issues were distributed to retailers from 1912 thru 1914 with the ultra-obscure 1914 color issue including 12 different player subjects. Created for the sole purpose of advertising the George Frost Company's Boston Garters, retailers would receive one card per box of dozen garters, and had the option of writing to the company for the complete set. The cards measure approximately 4" x 8 ¼" and were most likely oversized since the manufacturer solicited retailers to place them in their store windows as a promotional tool for their Boston Garter brand. The obverse side depicts brilliant lithographic player images within a baseball field shaped diamond, with a picture of the company's Boston Garter product directly below the player's name. The verso reveals a 12-subject checklist, statistics for the player represented on the card, and various advertisement features throughout the lower half of the card.
Undoubtedly, the extreme rarity of this iconic type issue stems from the fact these cards were never released to the general public, but only to the scant Boston Garter retailers. The illustrious history of the George Frost Company can be traced back to the late 1880's, when George Frost, Jr. took over the family's ladies furnishings business founded by his father. The younger Frost expanded the family business and took advantage of the company's high visibility location at 551 Tremont Street, where it had moved after a fire in the 1870's. It was Frost who helped pioneer the Boston Garter, which revolutionized men's clothing. In an era previous to the typical elastic socks utilized today, the endeavor of keeping one's socks up was a seemingly impossible task, with the newly created Boston Garters immediately changing that painstaking notion.
In the early 20th century, the Red Stockings Club established themselves as Boston folk heroes, and Frost clearly understood the value of tying his product to our National Pastime. The company's retail location on Tremont Street featured renowned window displays showcasing the greatest players of the day, strongly endorsing the Boston Garter product. Conceptually speaking, if the Garter was good enough for iconic diamond heroes such as "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Frank Baker and Walter Johnson (just to mention a few), then the general public should have no issues whatsoever proudly boasting their Boston Garters on a routine basis. The 12 subjects included in the 1914 color issue comprise 7 Hall of Famers and the immortal "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, with the highly coveted Cooperstown inductees being Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Tris Speaker and Frank "Home Run" Baker (also presented in this auction).
Ultra-rare, only a handful of these subjects have managed to survive over the past 105 years, with a mere two examples of the legendary Tyrus Raymond Cobb listed on the COMBINED PSA, SGC and Beckett "Pop" Charts. Courtesy of Memory Lane, one of those two known Ty Cobb examples is now available for the taking, the Beckett "Authentic" specimen that received its non-numerical assessment due to significant cardboard stock loss in the lower right quadrant as well as an extreme chip along the upper left edge. Yet, as most hobbyists would attest to, claiming ownership of this timeless offering stands as a classic example of "the sheer right to own a copy" since only a single other specimen exists. In fact, the sole other copy (an SGC 50/4) last sold in an auction for a staggering $204,000, a bona-fide testament to the virtual unparalleled desirability of this amazing cardboard keepsake and the remarkable player it represents.
The incomparable Ty Cobb broke into the Major Leagues with the Detroit Tigers in 1905, playing in a mere 41 games while hitting a paltry .240. Quickly, Cobb bounced back in 1906 to bat an impressive .316, the first of an unfathomable 23 consecutive years of exceeding the exalted .300 benchmark. Throughout his incomparable 24 seasons, he led the American League a record 12 years in batting average including an incredible 9 consecutive years from 1907 thru 1915! He also happened to exceed the exalted .400 mark three times, with all of the above totaling to an unimaginable .366 lifetime average. No wonder advanced enthusiasts actively seek Cobb's most treasured artifacts, with this Boston Garter offering unquestionably residing as one of his rarest baseball cards on the planet. While the previously mentioned paper stock loss issues clearly merit the "Authentic" assessment, most significantly, the "Georgia Peach's" legendary batting pose still retains a majority of its original appeal.
Other than some faded hues and light scattered wrinkles, no obtrusive flaws negatively impact Cobb's hallowed pose. A severe horizontal crease is situated along the lower end of the card, with a majority of its damage restricted to the reverse side. Scattered surface snow, soiling, and the significant paper stock loss are the major issues on the obverse side, but once again, the revered Cobb batting illustration has eluded most of these major blemishes. The verso depicts an abundance of stray surface abrasions and glue residue, with this card obviously removed from a scrapbook at some point in time. The best and most effective way of summarizing this card's existence would be to simply state: "while it may not be my first choice, it stands as my ONLY CHOICE!"
Add the fact that with the other SGC 4 example previously selling for over $200K, it is no secret that this oversized masterpiece of the iconic "Georgia Peach" clearly resides as one of the hobby's most amazing cardboard heirlooms. Most would agree that Cobb's hallowed batting presence and its unequivocal paucity level place it right alongside some of his other cardboard masterpieces such as the T206 Cobb Ad-back marvel and the like-wise obscure 1907 W600 Cabinet rarity. Indeed, this may be the prototypical scenario whereby the sophisticated hobbyist truly needs to overlook the card's poor aesthetics, knowing full well that this "1 of 2" professionally graded offering just may suffice as their final opportunity to capture the ever-elusive and majestic 1914 Boston Garter Cobb!
MIN BID $10,000