There’s just something about Honus. Every time the 1909 Honus Wagner baseball card hits the market, card collectors check their wallets and dream. Dubbed the Holy Grail of baseball cards, it has achieved higher and higher prices in recent years. This week the legendary card hit new heights. A 1909 T206 Honus Wagner graded EX 5 (MC) by PSA was sold for $2,105,770.50 at Goldin Auctions becoming the highest price ever paid for any baseball card in a public auction (a similar card sold a few years back for $2.8 million) . It was part of a sale in which more than 30 record prices were paid for a total of more than $3.2 million in sales.
“To have surpassed the highest price ever paid for a baseball card at auction by nearly $500,000 is a spectacular outcome of an auction that riveted the hobby and captured the attention of media worldwide for the past month,” said Ken Goldin, Founder of Goldin Auctions. “With less than 50 authenticated Wagner cards out there, the opportunity to purchase one does not come around very often and it was obvious from the fevered pitch of the bidding that there was quite a demand for this card from many people,” “We are honored to have been able to bring this card to auction and thrilled to present it to its new owner who has chosen to remain anonymous at this time.”
What makes a Honus Wagner baseball card so special? Part of the legend is that less than 200 Wagner cards were ever issued. The card was part of the American Tobacco Company T206 series but production of the card ceased after Wagner, the Pittsburgh Pirates star shortstop at the time, requested the tobacco company to stop including his image in the cigarette packs. Wagner may be known best for his baseball card now but in 1909, the year of the card’s release, Wagner was the biggest name in baseball. He was on his way to winning his seventh Batting title and was in the middle of leading the Pirates to their first World Series victory as well. He was one of the first five men immortalized in Cooperstown and is still considered the greatest shortstop ever to play the game.
The T206 Honus Wagner has electrified the world of baseball collecting so much that the card itself has its own plaque in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. The display has an example of the card and a plaque that reads ” The Holy Grail: In 1909 Honus Wagner discovered that the American Tobacco Company had issued this baseball card without his permission. Although Wagner used tobacco, his granddaughter later noted he did not want children to buy cigarettes to get the card. Wagner forced the company to recall the card, and today only about 50 examples survive. Wagner’s fame, the scarcity of the card, and the story behind it makes this baseball’s most famous collectible.”
Got something in your collection that could be worth a fortune? The company is also accepting consignments of its next auction in June. For more information or to consign an item, visit www.GoldinAuctions.com.
Deidre Woollard served as the lead editor on Luxist.com for six years writing about real estate, auctions, jewelry and luxury goods. Her love for luxury real estate led her to work at realtor.com and two of the top real estate brokerages in Los Angeles as well as doing publicity for properties around the world.