Home Valuable stamps Honus Wagner, Long Baseball’s Most Valuable Card, Set To Recover Record By Surpassing $ 5.2 Million

Honus Wagner, Long Baseball’s Most Valuable Card, Set To Recover Record By Surpassing $ 5.2 Million


It may not look like much, or even look like what we think of as a baseball card – the shortstop is sitting upright, expressionless, in a blurry image against an artificial orange background, with no cap on the back. head – but the T206 Honus Wagner might just be the world’s most treasured baseball collector’s item.

The card, produced by the American Tobacco Company between 1909 and 1911 as part of what is now known as the T206 baseball card series, is in extremely limited supply and has been setting price records for over 80 years. , most recently in 2016 at $ 3.12 million. In 2015, Robert Edwards Auctions sold one for $ 1.32 million, considered a good deal even then.

It looks like an even better deal after a 2009 Mike Trout rookie card set a baseball card record at $ 3.9 million last August and a 1952 Mickey Mantle beat her with a January selling price of $ 5.2 million. Now Robert Edwards Auctions has got their hands on another Wagner. And he expects to see the record erased.

REA launched the online auction on July 23, and the auction is scheduled to end on August 15. With more than a week left for potential buyers to enter the fray, the auction has jumped 18 bids from a reserve price of $ 1 million. at $ 4,005,519. Factoring in the 20% buy-in premium that REA collects, that puts the official price above $ 4.8 million. The way the auction increments are structured, another auction will raise the price beyond $ 5 million. One more after that will set a record. And then from there, who knows?

“Obviously we have to get to $ 5 million before we can hit $ 6 million, before we can hit $ 7 million,” says REA chairman Brian Dwyer, “but based on activity Initial, based on the reception and interest that we see, we think there is going to be significant interest as the auction progresses.

As the card and souvenir industry has grown in recent years, the pandemic has sparked a frenzy. The Trout and the Mantle were just two in a series of record or notable sales that also included a $ 5.2 million LeBron James card (which scored in April for a basketball card) and a Wayne card. Gretzky of $ 3.75 million (in June, another peak for a hockey card). There was also a private sale in June of a 1914 Babe Ruth card at a price that reportedly exceeded $ 5.2 million, but which was not publicly disclosed.

Auction houses, including REA, saw their sales increase in 2020 and expect they will double again in 2021. In fact, a PWCC executive said in an interview in April that he had sold more than 100 million dollars in assets in the first quarter, more than in all of 2020.

As industry experts cite various factors including a rediscovery of the hobby during Covid-19 lockdowns, buzz from social media influencers, uncertainty about the stock market and a growing interest in combined alternative assets. to a lack of financial regulation in the card space – there is no single explanation for the surge in the market. There is also no easy explanation for the downturn that much of the market has experienced in recent months. But almost everyone agrees that truly high-end cards will continue to soar, isolated from any broader stabilization or slowdown.

“People who can play at this level understand that this is an opportunity that won’t come often,” says Dwyer, “and so when you have the opportunity to acquire something so rare, so special and so revered, and it’s in such good condition that the item we’re selling, you’re going to see tremendous interest and prices that are generally record high.

And maybe no card is as revered as a T206 Honus Wagner. It is believed that there are fewer than 60 copies today, and even when the American Tobacco Company issued the card from 1909 to 1911, there weren’t many more in circulation. (Wagner demanded that ATC stop printing his image, either because he and the company couldn’t agree on his compensation, or because, in the more apocryphal version of the story, he didn’t want not encourage kids to buy cigarettes and pick up a bad habit.) By the time Wagner, a legendary Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop, was selected as one of five members of the inaugural Baseball Hall of Fame class in 1936, the value of the card was recognized. In 1939, for example, a pioneering collector named Jefferson Burdick, who incidentally coined the name T206 for the series, valued the card at $ 50 (around $ 1,000 today, allowing for inflation); most of the other cards in his catalog were listed for less than $ 1.

Since then, the card has dominated the record books. Gretzky himself brought the cards and their prices to a new era in 1991 with his purchase for $ 451,000 of a Wagner card that is now known to have been tampered with; another Wagner sold for $ 3.12 million in 2016, setting the record that the one-of-a-kind Trout card ultimately broke. Now a Wagner looks set to take over the throne.

On the one hand, the Wagner currently on sale received a VG 3 rating (on a scale of ten) by the SGC authentication agency. This would be a problem for a modern card, but for a 110 year old Wagner VG 3 means the card is in exceptional condition, with relatively sharp corners, relatively light creases, and relatively good coloring.

And the swift response has been encouraging for REA, with at least 15 bidders represented among the 18 bids to date and more are expected to launch as the deadline draws near.

“The Wagner Card is something that has incredible cross-appeal; there are people who own Wagners who don’t own any other sports card, ”Dwyer says, adding,“ This may be fine with someone who just understands and appreciates its rarity and significance and place in the hobby, like Jenny’s place reversed in stamps. or a $ 20 gold coin or the # 1 share. So this Wagner is a collector’s item that truly transcends the hobby. “

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