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  #1  
Old 10-09-2018, 06:24 PM
G1911 G1911 is offline
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Default T220 Coburn Variation (One does exist!), and Donovan background changes

Too Long, Didn’t Read : The Short Version:
Coburn actually does have a true variation with the man at left on a white border cards, though not the same one that used to be catalogued. Mike Donovan of To-Day features a background change between the silver and white border cards, also seemingly pointless. Jack Goodman doesn’t have a silver border, can’t have a silver because of the background style, and I would love to know when this card crept into early check listing efforts of the hobby pioneers. I think the variation on Donovan is the key to its rarity and the Corbett’s as well, though it is just a theory and in no way verifiable fact.


Background:
The T220’s were issued in late 1910, possibly into 1911, between the second and third series of the closely-related T218 issue. The Silver border issue of 25 cards came first, issued only by Mecca at factory 649. It is the only set that Mecca issued without a factory 30 variation. The 50 card white border set was issued after, with both factories and a Tolstoi back to boot.

The silver border card of Coburn came first, and features a man in a suit against the fence in the background, on the left side. The White border version removes this man, though traces of him remain. That area of the card is just a bit darker, and you can see the tips of his shoes.

When I got into the tobacco boxing cards in about 2003, almost every checklist included a variation and a non-existent card, both of which have been removed today.

Joe Coburn, and the history of its variation
Coburn was the variation, listed as having a man at left or no man at left on his white border card. Many of his graded cards include a variation notation for a variant that doesn’t actually exist. No white border has the full rendering of the man at left like the Silver Border does, and I also have never seen one where he is fully and properly erased. However, there is a variation here from the early printings where the man is present in a light blue silhouette. There’s at least 1 completed copy with a Mecca 649 back (I cannot locate a photo of another, but I am sure there are at least several more) and this same ‘blue man’ variation exists on Exhibitman’s scrap card of Coburn, that is handcut and has an upside down back of Joe Gans that I presume was scrap from when American Lithographic was setting up to print these. This makes sense, as most Mecca issues indicate that the first sheets of their sets had factory 649 reverses. This seems to be a true variation to me, akin to the variants created by Fleer in 1989 when they needed to erase a cigarette advertisement behind Randy Johnson and modify Billy Ripken’s scandalous bat. After the silver run, the man was removed from the image, leaving the blue silhouette/splotch, which was quickly fixed again, but still not quite correctly, leaving a faint black image that most all white border Coburn’s have.


Jack Goodman's Silver border can't exist, but Donovan does
The non-existent card was Jack Goodman, ‘cataloged’ as having a silver border card, although it should have been quite surprising if this card existed, as the background design of single-boxer T220 cards tell you whether the pose can have a silver border or not. Goodman is not in this group. 24 cards that actually exist were known then, with the 25th only surfacing in 2006, Mike Donovan of To-Day. Donovan made much more sense to be the 25th card in the silver set. There are 20 cards portraying a single boxer in the outdoors, and all 19 others go this design type had Silver Border cards. 3 or 4 Donovan’s are now known today, though I notice the fantasy Goodman still lingers in many peoples checklists and want lists. If anyone has a copy of the old catalogues or periodicals rom the early hobby days that includes the T220’s, I’d love to know for curiosity’s sake if this card was checklisted then and how it, like the t206 Hustler back, somehow crept in. The other great silver border short-print rarity, James J. Corbett (World’s Champion) has no discernible difference to me between the silver and the white border, though I don’t have a silver to compare in hand.

Donovan's background change, similar to Coburn
Anyways, the Donovan features the same kind of change as the Coburn, although both seem to be among the most pointless variations of any set. Donovan’s background behind the stands has been completely redone for the White Border set. The man to Coburn’s left is too distant to have any facial detail or to be identified as a specific individual, so I doubt he needed to be removed like the T206 of Wagner was supposedly pulled. I have never been able to think of any good reason either change would be made.


Does the change explain the short printing of Donovan and Corbett?
Without any evidence to prove it, I do suspect that the change to Donovan’s card is the key to explaining the extreme rarity of both it and the Corbett card. Corbett doesn’t have more than a handful of known cards, and Donovan was unknown to the hobby for 96 years. We know that most American Lithographic sets for American Tobacco had sheets with repeating columns of cards; miscuts top/bottom more often than not show that the card above or below is the exact same card. Some miscuts are known showing a different card at top or bottom, however, so it isn’t always the case, or a column had say, 8 of one card and 8 of another repeated. We know that American Lithography clearly paid close enough attention to make these rather small changes for reasons unknown, and we know they did a poor job changing the Coburn and had to fix it again. The change on Donovan’s card was much more work, repainting the whole background, and was properly changed. Perhaps they took more time with it, and pulled his card early, on a column shared with James J. Corbett’s card and found it easier to just cut off the column. Corbett isn’t short printed in the white border set, so they certainly had the rights to his image. Furthermore, I am not aware of any of the numerous American Tobacco 1909-1912 issues having some sort of redemption program. The above seems the most likely explanation to me.


Would love to see your guys Coburn’s, or hear your thoughts on this set. Net54 image uploads limit file size, but better view of the Coburn's here: https://imgur.com/a/n0aQEfL
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Coburn Man at Lefts.jpg (11.8 KB, 114 views)
File Type: jpg Donovans.jpg (73.3 KB, 112 views)

Last edited by G1911; 10-09-2018 at 06:28 PM.
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Old 09-14-2020, 07:26 AM
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Very interesting. Recently began collecting Boxing and this was one of the first sets I'm trying to complete. I've been searching for the Coburn Man on Left Variation since hearing about it, and more specifically, because PSA lists it as a variation which I assumed meant they had graded at least one.
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Old 09-14-2020, 10:06 AM
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Missed this post earlier. Excellent info.
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Old 09-14-2020, 05:51 PM
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The Goodman silver was carried on early checklists decades ago. I finally dropped it when I realized that no one had ever seen it. My suspicion is that someone a long time ago typoed "Goodman" and "Goldman" and the error stuck.

I'm not sure I'd consider the blue man a true variation; I'd need to see more of them. It may just be an inking variation with missed ink. The Johnson Marlboro card sequence does seem analogous.
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Last edited by Exhibitman; 09-14-2020 at 05:56 PM.
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Old 09-16-2020, 10:24 AM
G1911 G1911 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Exhibitman View Post
The Goodman silver was carried on early checklists decades ago. I finally dropped it when I realized that no one had ever seen it. My suspicion is that someone a long time ago typoed "Goodman" and "Goldman" and the error stuck.

I'm not sure I'd consider the blue man a true variation; I'd need to see more of them. It may just be an inking variation with missed ink. The Johnson Marlboro card sequence does seem analogous.
Iíve looked for the source of Goodman since this post and never found it. I canít find any old checklist of the set card by card at all, nor a reference to the checklist in what Iíve seen from the hobby pioneers. Donovan always made more sense than Goodman as card 25, because Donovan is the single boxer image of its type without a silver, and every other card with Goodmanís image type (Posing in stance in ring with solid backdrop), was added for the white expansion.

Coburn is recurring. Since this post Iíve located and bought more copies, though it is tough. The blue silhouette matches exactly the shape of the mans image (minus part of the left leg). None of the copies Iíve found show a missed ink pass on the card (would it even use blue ink to create black for his suit? Think that would just be a black ink pass and if black was missed it would not be blue?). As this doesnít affect anywhere else on the card, or any other card, recurs and matches exactly the change made by American Lithography to move the man, Iím pretty confident the blue mans are from the early white print run. All I have found have a 649 back, which was probably issued first (though not all 649ís were printed before the 30ís from what can be told from other Mecca sets).

Still have no clue why they would edit either image like this though. Canít even think of a good reason to modify either of them after release like this, much less any evidence. The change in Donovanís image is at least a major change artistically, and the white border card image better fits with the others, presenting a similar scene to many of the other type 1 images in the set. The Coburn removal seems to have been done in haste (They never got it completely right), is not a major artistic change, etc.

Still think the changes here, for whatever reason, are probably key to the short printing. Corbett and Donovan are so rare that they were probably pulled from production completely, but I doubt expectedly. A 23 card sheet doesnít make sense, in none of its multiples does a sheet size come out in a logical way (and should result in obvious SPíing or DPíing besides the two cards that might as well not exist). AL was set up for, I think, 25 card multiple production. Donovan being pulled and not replaced until the white run must be because of the carefully and well done change to the entire card art. Every T220 miscut showing another card that I have seen shows the same card was on top of it, though we know from other AL printed sets that this is probably not true up the entire column and there are probably 2-3 different in a column depending on the layout used. The evidence is less than one should be comfortable with, merely that it suggests Corbett being the unlucky sheet mate of Donovan and that column cut off to make the redo of Donovanís card best seems to fit what is known. Have made no progress since this post in going from Ďmost plausible ideaí to Ďin factí.
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Old 09-16-2020, 12:56 PM
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Given the major redo of the Donovan art and the fact that he has two cards in the set, perhaps something went wrong with the printing stone or plate for the Donovan and they had to pull it?

Corbett has always had me wondering if maybe there was some sort of contest involved.
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