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Honus Wagner, Long Baseball's most valuable card, is ready to break the record by shooting past $ 5.2 million
Honus Wagner, Long Baseball's most valuable card, is ready to break the record by shooting past $ 5.2 million

Honus Wagner, Long Baseball’s most valuable card, is ready to break the record by shooting past $ 5.2 million

It may not look like much, or even resemble what we think of as a baseball card – the card stopper sits upright, expressionless, in a blurry image against an unnatural orange background, no hood on its head – but the T206 Honus Wagner may just be it most valuable baseball collection on earth.

The card, produced by the American Tobacco Company between 1909 and 1911 as part of what is now known as the T206 series of baseball cards, is in an extremely limited offer and has set price records for more than 80 years, most recently in 2016 at $ 3.12 million. In 2015, Robert Edwards Auctions sold one once for $ 1.32 million, considered a steal even then.

It looks like an even better deal afterwards a rookie card from Mike Trout from 2009 set a baseball card record of $ 3.9 million in August last year and a 1952 Mickey Mantle hit it with a sale price of $ 5.2 million in January. Now Robert Edwards Auctions has his hands on another Wagner. And it expects to see the record erased.

REA launched the online auction on 23 July, and the bids were scheduled to end on 15 August. With more than a week left for potential buyers to enter the fray, the bidder has skipped 18 bids from a $ 1 million reserve price all the way up to $ 4,005,519. Factoring in the 20% buyer’s premium that REA collects, which puts the official price above $ 4.8 million. The way the bids are structured, another bid will push the price past $ 5 million. One more after that will set a record. And so from there, who knows?

“Obviously we have to get up to $ 5 million before we can get up to $ 6 million, before we can get up to $ 7 million,” said REA President Brian Dwyer, “but based on the early activity, based on the reception and interests we see, we believe that there will be significant interest as the auction progresses. ”

While the card and memorabilia industry had grown in recent years, the pandemic ignited a frenzy. The trout and mantle were just two in a series of records or remarkable sales that also included a $ 5.2 million LeBron James card (who put a mark in April for a basketball card) and a $ 3.75 million Wayne Gretzky card (in June, a new top for a hockey card). There was also a private sale in June of a 1914 Babe Ruth card at a price that was said to beat 5.2 million dollars but was not published.

Auction houses, including REA, saw sales rise in 2020 and estimate that they will double again in 2021. In fact, a PWCC leader said in an interview in April that it had sold over $ 100 million worth of assets in the first quarter – more than in the whole of 2020. .

While industry experts cite various factors — among them a rediscovery of the hobby during covid-19 lockdowns, buzzing influence from social media, uncertainty about the stock market and a building interest in alternative assets combined with a lack of financial regulations in the card space — there is no explanation for the sharp increase in the market. There is also no simple explanation for the cooling that much of the market has experienced in recent months. But almost everyone agrees: the truly advanced cards will continue to shoot up, isolated from any broader stabilization or downturn.

“People who can play at that level understand that this is an opportunity that is not going to come often,” says Dwyer, “and so when you have an opportunity to get something that is so rare, that is so special and so honor, and which is in as good a condition as the example we sell, you will see enormous interest and prices that are generally record high. ”

And maybe no card is as honored as a T206 Honus Wagner. Fewer than 60 copies are believed to exist today, and even when the American Tobacco Company issued the card from 1909 to 1911, there were not many more than what was in circulation. Wagner demanded that ATC stop printing his picture, either because he and the company could not agree on his compensation, or because in the more apocryphal version of the story he did not want to encourage children to buy cigarettes and get into a bad habit. .) When Wagner, a legendary shortstop in the Pittsburgh Pirates, was selected as one of five members of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s first class in 1936, the value of the card was recognized. In 1939, for example, a pioneering collector was named Jefferson Burdick, who incidentally made the T206 name for the series, valued the card at $ 50 (about $ 1,000 today, which stands for inflation); most of the other cards in his catalog were listed for less than $ 1.

Ever since then, the card has dominated the record books. Gretzky himself took the cards and their prizes into a new era in 1991 with his purchase of $ 451,000 from a Wagner card that is now known to have been awarded a doctorate; another Wagner sold for $ 3.12 million in 2016, setting the record that the unique trout card eventually broke. Now a Wagner looks ready to take back the throne.

First, Wagner for sale received a grade of VG 3 (on a scale of ten) from the approval agency SGC. That would be a problem for a modern card, but for a 110-year-old Wagner, VG 3 means that the card is in exceptional condition, with relatively sharp corners, relatively light folds and relatively good color.

And the early response has been encouraging for REA, with at least 15 bidders represented among the 18 bidders so far and more expected to jump in as the deadline approaches.

The Wagner card is something that has an incredible crossover appeal; there are people who own Wagners who do not own other sports cards, “says Dwyer, adding:” It can go to a person who only understands and appreciates the rarity and significance and place in the hobby, who Inverted Jennyspace in stamps or a $ 20 gold coin gold Action No. 1. So this Wagner is a collectible that really transcends the hobby. ”

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