Sunday, July 26, 2009

Two Honus Wagner T206's Sold At Record Prices

Two Honus Wagner T206's have recently been sold at record prices. On May 3rd a PSA1 Wagner was sold for $399,500, setting a new record for the highest price paid for that condition level.

Then on July 24th a SGC 40 sold for $925,000, again establishing a new benchmark level for a card in that quality range.

“The sales price is just another indicator that the demand for Wagner cards is still much greater than the supply,” said Memory Lane Inc.’s J.P. Cohen. “When one does come up for sale, there are usually collectors standing two or three deep waiting to buy it.”

The Wagner card has also proven to be a great investment for those who have had the resources to purchase one. “It just keeps appreciating, “ Cohen said. “This sale just continues the trend and proves the market for rare vintage baseball cards is alive and well.”

“The buyer said he has wanted one all his life and we’re glad we were able to help him buy a very nice one,” said Cohen.

Here is an update on recent Honus Wagner T206 cards sold:

PSA 1 / SGC 10 / BVG 1:
  • 2009 (May): PSA 1 - $399,500 (Source: Robert Edward Auctions)
  • 2008 (May): BVG 1 - $270,000 (Source: Robert Edward Auctions)
  • 2008 (May): SGC 10 Poor 1 - $227,050 (Source: Heritage Auctions)
  • 2008 (April): BVG 1 - $317,250 (Source: Robert Edward Auctions)
  • 2008 (April): SGC 10 Poor 1 - $227,050 (Source: Heritage Auctions)
  • 2004: PSA 1 - $109,638 (Source: honuswagner.com)
  • 2003: PSA 1 - $92,256 (Source: T206 Museum)
  • 2003: SGC 10 Poor 1 - $90,199 (Source: T206 Museum)
  • 2001: PSA 1 - $78,144 (Source: T206 Museum)
  • 2001: PSA 1 - $50,935 (Source: T206 Museum)
PSA 2:
  • 2006 (Dec): PSA 2 - $294,337 (Source: Memory Lane Inc.)
  • 2005: PSA 2 - $236,706 (Source: T206 Museum)
  • 2000: PSA 2 - $74,918 (Source: T206 Museum)
PSA 3 / SGC 40:
  • 2009 (July) SGC 40 VG 3 - $925,000 (Source: Memory Lane Inc.)
  • 2008 (Nov) SGC 40 VG 3 - $791,000 (Source: Philip Weiss Auctions)
  • 2000: PSA 3 - $145,314 (Source: T206 Museum)
GAI 3.5:
  • 2005: GAI 3.5 - $456,057 (Source: T206 Museum)
PSA 5:
  • 2008 (Aug): PSA 5 - $1.62 million (Source: Mastro Auctions)

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

SGC 40 VG 3 Honus Wagner T206 Fetches Record $791,000

As part of a three day estate sale from November 21-23 by Philip Weiss Auctions, a SGC 40 VG 3 Honus Wagner T206 sold for a record amount of $791,000.

According to Philip Weiss of Philip Weiss Auctions, "The only thing keeping the card from realizing a lot more money was its condition, which was SGC graded 3. Still, the pre-sale estimate was $500,000-$800,000, and it ended up selling toward the high end of that range. What added to its allure was the fact that it was fresh to the market, consigned by the original owner's family and never before offered."

According to my records, the last PSA 3 Wagner T206 sold was for $145,315 in 2000.

Here is an update on recent Honus Wagner T206 cards sold:

PSA 1 / SGC 10 / BVG 1:
  • 2008 (May): BVG 1 - $270,000 (Source: Robert Edward Auctions)
  • 2008 (May): SGC 10 Poor 1 - $227,050 (Source: Heritage Auctions)
  • 2004: PSA 1 - $109,638 (Source: honuswagner.com)
  • 2003: PSA 1 - $92,256 (Source: T206 Museum)
  • 2003: SGC 10 Poor 1 - $90,199 (Source: T206 Museum)
  • 2001: PSA 1 - $78,144 (Source: T206 Museum)
  • 2001: PSA 1 - $50,935 (Source: T206 Museum)
PSA 2:
  • 2005: PSA 2 - $236,706 (Source: T206 Museum)
  • 2000: PSA 2 - $74,918 (Source: T206 Museum)
PSA 3 / SGC 40:
  • 2008 (Nov) SGC 40 VG 3 - $791,000 (Source: Philip Weiss Auctions)
  • 2000: PSA 3 - $145,314 (Source: T206 Museum)
GAI 3.5:
  • 2005: GAI 3.5 - $456,057 (Source: T206 Museum)
PSA 5:
  • 2008 (Aug): PSA 5 - $1.62 million (Source: Mastro Auctions)

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Top 10 Most Expensive Baseball Cards

Friday Night Lists recently put out a list of a the Top 10 Most Expensive Baseball Cards. It's no surprise that The Honus Wagner T206 came in at #1. Here's a quick look at the others that made the list:

10) 1951 Bowman #305 Willie Mays
9) 1954 Bowman #664 Ted Williams
8) Goudey 1933 'Heads-Up' R323 #274 Joe DiMaggio
7) Goudey 1933 #53 Babe Ruth
6) Leaf 1949 #8 Satchel Paige
5) Cracker Jack 1914 E145-1 #30 Ty Cobb
4) Cracker Jack 1914 E145-1 #103 Joe Jackson
3) Topps 1952 #311 Mickey Mantle
2) Goudey 1953 #106 Nap Lajoie
1) 1909 T206 #366 Honus Wagner

Some of the entries are surprising and I've seen a number of other cards sell for higher than the prices that are listed in the to 10 list but it's a brave attempt to create a top 10 list. Hopefully it will encourage others to improve on the data in the list!

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Honus Wagner T206 Owner Revealed

October 2008 Update: It was recently revealed that the current owner of the famous Honus Wagner T206 is E.G. "Ken" Kendrick, managing general partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team. Kendrick is a veteran collector and is believed to be creating a sports museum at Chase Field where the card will be put on display.

This is an update to my Complete Honus Wagner T206 Price History post.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Honus Wagner T206 PSA 5 Sells For $1.62 Million

Last week a Honus Wagner T206 PSA EX 5 was purchased for $1.62 million. The owner John Rogers, 35, of North Little Rock, Arkansas who said purchasing the card was the fulfillment of a decades-long dream.

According to Rogers, "I call this the holy grail of baseball cards. I've looked at a number of other specimens, sat in a few other Wagner auctions. But this is the one that makes collecting worth while. Since I was 8 years old, I've hoped and dreamed that one day I'd be able to get one"

The second highest bid was $1.3 million by an anonymous bidder in the Mastro Auction for the card.

Here is an update on recent Honus Wagner T206 cards sold:

PSA 1 / SGC 10 / BVG 1:
  • May 2008: BVG 1 - $270,000 (Source: Robert Edward Auctions)
  • May 2008: SGC 10 Poor 1 - $227,050 (Source: Heritage Auctions)
  • 2004: PSA 1 - $109,638 (Source: honuswagner.com)
  • 2003: PSA 1 - $92,256 (Source: T206 Museum)
  • 2003: SGC 10 Poor 1 - $90,199 (Source: T206 Museum)
  • 2001: PSA 1 - $78,144 (Source: T206 Museum)
  • 2001: PSA 1 - $50,935 (Source: T206 Museum)
PSA 2:
  • 2005: PSA 2 - $236,706 (Source: T206 Museum)
  • 2000: PSA 2 - $74,918 (Source: T206 Museum)
PSA 3:
  • 2000: PSA 3 - $145,314 (Source: T206 Museum)
GAI 3.5:
  • 2005: GAI 3.5 - $456,057 (Source: T206 Museum)
PSA 5:
  • August, 2008: PSA 5 - $1.62 million (Source: Mastro Auctions)

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Honus Wagner on Pop History Dig

I came across a great article today on Honus Wagner at The Pop History Dig. The focus of the article is on the Wagner T206 baseball card and it is one of the most in depth accounts about the card that I have seen recently.

In addition to discussing the T206 history, the article also profiles Honus Wagner the player and some of the achievements that he won as one of the greatest baseball players of all time.

Prior to finding this article I had never heard of The Pop History Dig. The site contains a unique collection of short stories about popular culture - its history, its people, and its power. Everything from Thomas Edison's inventions to Oprah Winfrey's political endorsements are fair game here - and more. Music, sports, film, and television are also part of the mix.

I'm glad I found the site and congrats to author Jack Doyle for putting together such a great resource!

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Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Ultimate Wagner T206 Trade?

Would you trade a 1986 Topps Steve Jeltz card for a T206 Honus Wagner?

Well that's exactly what Brandon from TradeMeABetterCard is trying to do. Brandon's goal is to trade his Steve Jeltz card for other, more expensive cards, with the end goal to get a Wagner T206. From there Brandon wants to put the Wagner up for auction so he can purchase a home in his current hometown of Santa Barbara, California.

Brandon admits that the Jeltz card is a "little worthless piece of cardbord" and that he is going to "rip you off- there is no way around that." He hopes people will look past the monetary value of the trades and "along with receiving the card I'm about to trade you, you will also receive the peace of mind knowing that you helped an all around good guy."

Here is how he has done so far:

Trade #1: 1986 Topps Steve Jeltz for a 1995 Best Bob Abreu Graded 9.0 (Minor League Card)

Trade #2: Bob Abreu card for a 1992 Upper Deck Shaquille O'Neal rookie card

Trade #3: Shaquille O'Neal for a 1994 Fleer Update Alex Rodriguez rookie card Graded 8.5

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

"The Becket Wagner" Auction Results

Just one week after a SCG 10 Poor 1 Honus Wagner T206 sold for a record $227,050, the famous baseball card set another record. Robert Edward Auctions recently sold off a Beckett graded BVG 1 on their website. Here is part of the description of the card:
Presented is an outstanding newly discovered example of the "Holy Grail" of baseball cards: The T206 Honus Wagner. Graded 1 POOR by BVG. This is an extremely attractive low-grade T206 Honus Wagner, with edge and corner wear and a few creases, but with extremely bright, bold colors, and perfect registration. No one is ever going to confuse this card with the famous Gretzky-McNall Wagner, but this card needs to make no apologies for its appearance. This is a very strong Wagner for a low-grade example, with a bold portrait image offset by a particularly strong, bright orange background, a boldly printed reverse, very clean, both front and back, and with no heavy creases disturbing the portrait image. This card is accurately graded but there is a lot more to evaluating a Wagner card than a numerical grade. Most Wagners are in low grade. This card has something that many other Wagner's do not: eye appeal.
"The Beckett Wagner" is a tremendous low-grade example of the T206 Wagner, one that compares very favorably with most other low-grade examples, and which is simply a great-looking card that elicits a positive response from everyone who sees it. The colors on this card are noticeably brighter, fresher, and bolder than most other T206 Wagners, including examples that are graded much higher. This is very likely due to the fact that this card has been stored away in ideal conditions, literally untouched and protected from all elements including light, for decades. Some cards have flaws that make collectors respond less than positively, and upon viewing make them say to themselves "That one's not for me" or "If only it were in better shape." This is a card that collectors will always hold and look at in awe, and say simply, "Wow, it's a Wagner, and it's a great looking card!" We all know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Every card is different. To most collectors, and to us, this is a beautiful card!
The card had a reserve bid of $50,000 and was expected to sell for over $100,000. After 28 bids, the dust settled on May 4th, 2008 and the card was sold for a whopping $270,000, thus setting a new record price for such a low grade Wagner T206.

Here is an update on recent Honus Wagner T206 cards sold:

PSA 1 / SGC 10 / BVG 1:
  • May 2008: BVG 1 - $270,000 (Source: Robert Edward Auctions)
  • May 2008: SGC 10 Poor 1 - $227,050 (Source: Heritage Auctions)
  • 2004: PSA 1 - $109,638 (Source: honuswagner.com)
  • 2003: PSA 1 - $92,256 (Source: T206 Museum)
  • 2003: SGC 10 Poor 1 - $90,199 (Source: T206 Museum)
  • 2001: PSA 1 - $78,144 (Source: T206 Museum)
  • 2001: PSA 1 - $50,935 (Source: T206 Museum)
PSA 2:
  • 2005: PSA 2 - $236,706 (Source: T206 Museum)
  • 2000: PSA 2 - $74,918 (Source: T206 Museum)
PSA 3:
  • 2000: PSA 3 - $145,314 (Source: T206 Museum)
GAI 3.5:
  • 2005: GAI 3.5 - $456,057 (Source: T206 Museum)

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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Honus Wagner T206 SGC 10 Poor 1 Auction Results

Heritage Auctions has finished its auction of the Honus Wagner T206 SGC 10 Poor 1.

As I noted last week, the minimum bid for the card when the auction started was $31,250. The card ended up selling for an astounding $227,050 (including a 19.5% buyer's premium).

The auction had 12 different bidders as was viewed over 2,000 times.

A previous PSA 1 Wagner T206 sold for $110,000 in 2005. The $227,050 price tag represents a significant jump in value and only goes to show how much card collectors want to get their hands on a famed Wagner T206.

Here is an update on recent Honus Wagner T206 cards sold:

PSA 1 / SGC 10:
  • 2008: SGC 10 Poor 1 - $227,050 (Source: Heritage Auctions)
  • 2004: PSA 1 - $109,638 (Source: honuswagner.com)
  • 2003: PSA 1 - $92,256 (Source: T206 Museum)
  • 2003: SGC 10 Poor 1 - $90,199 (Source: T206 Museum)
  • 2001: PSA 1 - $78,144 (Source: T206 Museum)
  • 2001: PSA 1 - $50,935 (Source: T206 Museum)
PSA 2:
  • 2005: PSA 2 - $236,706 (Source: T206 Museum)
  • 2000: PSA 2 - $74,918 (Source: T206 Museum)
PSA 3:
  • 2000: PSA 3 - $145,314 (Source: T206 Museum)
GAI 3.5:
  • 2005: GAI 3.5 - $456,057 (Source: T206 Museum)

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Honus Wagner T206 SGC 10 Poor 1 Up For Auction

Heritage Auctions is putting up a Honus Wagner T206 for auction. The trading card portion of the auction will end on Friday, May 2nd in an Extended Bidding format, each lot closing individually after thirty minutes of bidding inactivity following the 9 PM CST cut-off.


1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner SGC 10 Poor 1:

MINIMUM BID: $31,250 - View Auction Site

Even though the minimum bid started at $31,250, the current price is already $150,000. How much is the card worth? In 2005, a PSA 1 Honus Wagner T206 sold for $110,000. It looks like the pricing will be breaking new ground with this new auction!

According to the Heritage Auctions description:
"There is something Lincolnesque about him," Pulitzer Prize-winning sports journalist Arthur Daley once wrote, "his rugged homeliness, his simplicity, his integrity, and his true nobility of character." Hall of Fame manager John McGraw considered him the greatest ballplayer of all time, and Ty Cobb recalled him as the one man he couldn't intimidate. Yet despite the universal high praise from friends and foes, and his membership in the 1936 inaugural class of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Honus Wagner is best remembered today as the face on the most valuable and coveted of all baseball cards.

While there is some truth to the argument that Wagner's greatness plays a role in the importance of this ultimate collecting rarity, one must acknowledge that it's a supporting role only. An equal print run to contemporaries like Cobb, Young and Mathewson would almost certainly have found Wagner's value equivalent to those legends' as well. But it was Wagner's refusal of the American Tobacco Company's request for permission to use his image that set him apart and above.

The most popular story to explain this refusal is that Wagner wished to play no role in the promotion of the use of tobacco, though it has been justly stated that he was himself a user, and had appeared in advertisements for many tobacco products previously. Another theory notes Wagner's reputation as a fierce negotiator, arguing that it was nothing more than a case of a failure to agree upon a dollar figure that led the ATC to end production of Wagner's card almost as soon as it started.

This unsolved mystery has only served to further enhance the mystique of the treasure presented here, one of just a few dozen examples of the famed Honus Wagner T206 known to exist. A colorized version of a studio portrait by celebrated early baseball photographer Carl Horner, the unmistakable image on the card face finds the superstar shortstop gazing into the middle distance, set against a backdrop of solid orange. The early spelling of his hometown "Pittsburg" is applied across the chest of his high-collared jersey, and again beside his block lettered surname at the bottom border. The verso provides an advertisement for Sweet Caporal Cigarettes, and the trading cards within, noting "Base Ball Series, 150 Subjects."

Condition is admittedly imperfect, though this is the case for all but a few of the tiny supply of surviving examples. Several creases thread their way through the ancient cardboard, and the passing decades have rounded the corners smooth like water polishing stones in a riverbed. Black fountain pen ink blotches the verso, yet remains mercifully clear of the front. Though the card comes by its Poor rating honestly, it retains a dignified countenance, presenting wonderfully despite its faults.

The opportunity to play a role in the history of a piece such as this is one that should appeal to true collectors of any discipline, not just those with a particular affinity for the sporting world. Stamp collecting has the Inverted Jenny, and comics has Action #1. For baseball card collecting, the T206 Honus Wagner will always hold that special distinction as the ultimate prize, and will establish its owner as one the world's elite hobbyists.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Why is the T206 Honus Wagner Worth So Much?

The T206 Honus Wagner is the most expensive baseball card in history (complete history of the Wagner T206) - but why is it worth so much?

The card was created by the American Tobacco Company (ATC) between 1909 and 1911. ATC used the cards as a promotional tool to help sell their cigarettes. ATC required the permission of the players to create the cards and Wagner was highly sought after due to his status as one of the game's greatest players.
Wagner, however, refused to let the production of the card continue and only 50 to 200 of them were put into circulation.

According to an October 12, 1912 edition of "The Sporting News", Wagner responded to ATC's request by writing that "he did not care to have his picture in a package of cigarettes."He further threatened to sue ATC if they produced the card.

There are a few theories as to why Wagner pulled the plug on ATC. The two leading ones are that he didn't want children to buy cigarettes to get his card and that he wanted more compensation from ATC.

Theory #1 - Children Buying Cigarettes

Although Honus Wagner chewed tabacco himself, he cared for his young fans and did not want them getting hooked on cigarettes and having his name associated with ATC. According to his granddaughter Blair, "He loved children. He wanted to teach kids good sportsmanship. When it came time for that card to come out, it wasn't that he wasn't paid. He didn't want kids to have to buy tobacco to get his card."

Another supporting fact was that Wagner's manager, Fred Clarke, and Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss both hated cigarettes. Dreyfuss actually passed on signing Tris Speaker, a future Hall of Famer, early in his career because Speaker was a smoker. It therefore seems likely that Wagner would not want to be associated with the tobacco industry.

Theory #2 - Compensation From ATC

Others have speculated that ATC did not offer Honus Wagner enough money and he refused to go ahead with the card production. The theory has its flaws, however, as Wagner sent a check to the ATC representative, John Gruber, for $10, a substantial amount of money at the time, to compensate Gruber for the fee ATC would have paid him if Wagner agreed to create the card. Pundits ask why would Wagner have sent Gruber the money if he was holding out for more? Gruber, incidentally, never cashed the check and, instead, saved and framed it.

Whatever the reason for Wagner refusing to cooperate with ATC, the card certainly would not have been as valuable if it has been put into full production. The limited number printed combined with the popularity of Honus Wagner and the story behind the ATC / Wagner battle have made it the most expensive baseball card in history.

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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Other T206 Honus Wagner Cards

While the Gretzky T206 is the most famous Honus Wagner card because of the superb condition that it is in, there are another 50 or 60 Wagner T206s in existence which are also highly coveted by collectors.

How much are they worth? Here are three examples from recent sales of PSA 1 and PSA 2 graded cards.



PSA 1:

  • In 2005 a PSA 1 Wagner T206 sold for $110,000

PSA 2:
  • In 2005 a PSA 2 Wagner T206 sold for $237,000
  • In 2000 a PSA 2 Wagner T206 sold for $75,000

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Honus Wagner T206 Price And Owner History

The Honus Wagner T206 is considered by collectors to be the "Holy Grail" or "Mona Lisa" of all baseball cards. There are only 50 to 60 believed to be in existence and the card has broken a number of records including:

- First baseball card to be professional graded by the PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator). The card shown on the left is marked #00000001

- First baseball card to sell for over $1 million

- Highest priced baseball card available, currently valued at $2.8 million

Here is a history as to how the Honus Wagner T206 PSA 8 came to be worth so much money.

Summary: Honus Wagner T206 Price History
  • 1930: $50
  • 1985: $25,000
  • 1987: $110,000
  • 1991: $451,000
  • 1995: $500,000
  • 1996: $641,500
  • 2000: $1,265,000
  • Feb 2007: $2.35 Mil
  • Sept 2007: $2.80 Mil
1930s

In the 1930s, according to baseball card catalogues, the Honus Wagner T206 cards were listed at a value of $50. Other T206 cards were valued at 35 cents making the Wagners a premium. Nobody, however, could have predicted that the card would come to be worth millions over 70 years later.

Alan Ray and Bill Mastro

The Honus Wagner T206 made its first appearance in the modern world of sports card collecting in 1985 when Alan Ray, a small time card collector, went to see Bob Sevchuk who owned a New York based sports memorabilia store where Ray was a regular customer.

Ray was hoping to sell his Honus Wagner T206 for $25,000 to Sevchuk. Bill Mastro, another sports memorabilia store owner and future founder of Mastro Auctions, caught wind of the card's availability and expressed an interest in buying it. He drove to Sevchuk's store and agreed to buy the card from Ray but only if he threw in the other 50 to 75 T206's that Ray had brought along as well. Ray made the deal, later saying "I had a money situation. I had to sell the card"

The origins of the card still remain a mystery and have never been disclosed. Ray has only said in 2001 that he received the card from a relative, whose name he did not divulge.

Jim Copeland

In 1987, Mastro contacted Jim Copeland, a sporting goods chain owner in California, and sold him the card for $110,000, realizing a $85,000 profit in under two years. "I called from the airport in California," Mastro says, "and ordered a Mercedes Benz."

The sale sparked a renewed interest in baseball card collecting and created an incentive for people to find and sell their cards from the T206 series.

Wayne Gretzky and Bruce McNall

In 1991, Copeland decided that he wanted to sell his collection of 873 pieces in a single sale. He contacted Mastro to help him sell the card. Mastro contacted Sotheby's, one of the most well known auction house in the world, to arrange the sale. Over 800 collectors showed up and the Honus Wagner T206 was expected to go for $114,000 according to pre-auction estimates.

Within minutes of opening the card soared past $228,000, double the original pre-auction estimate. There were three bidders for the card: Mike Gidwitz, Mark Friedland, and an unknown phone bidder. Gidwitz dropped out when the price hit $300,000. Friedland pursued and found that with each successive price increase he made, the anonymous phone bidder would further raise $5,000 or $10,000. Friedland finally called it off when the price hit $410,000. Sotheby's took at 10% buyer's premium on the value of the card so the final sales price was $451,000.

It was later discovered that the anonymous phone bidder was none other than NHL hockey great Wayne Gretzky who bid on the card with the financial support of Los Angeles Kings owner Bruce McNall. Mastro continued to work for Sotheby's for the next 5 years to facilitate the sale of expensive sports memorabilia and thereby establishing himself as the expert in the industry.

Gretzky, not known at the time for being a card collector, thought it would make a good investment and that "the market would remain strong. Still, my dad told me I was an idiot for paying $450,000 for a baseball card." According to his co-owner McNall, "If you buy something that is absolutely the best in the world, you'd be okay because there is always another buyer for something at the top end."

The record-setting purchase made headlines and the card quickly became known as the "Gretzky T206 Wagner." To validate its authenticity, the Professional Sports Authenticators (PSA) chose the card to be the first that it would grade. The card received a PSA 8 - NM-MT (near mind to mint), the highest grade so far awarded to a Honus Wagner T206 baseball card. PSA President David Hall called it "superb" and a "fantastic card in every way."

Wal-Mart and Patricia Gibbs

Shortly after the PSA graded the Honus Wagner T206, Bruce McNall became the subject of a federal investigation for fraud. He was later charged in 1994 for defrauding 6 banks of more than $236 million. With his partner off to a start a 70 month prison sentence, Gretzky decided to buy him out for his share and put the card back on the auction block.

In 1995, the Honus Wagner T206 was sold to Wal-Mart and Treat Entertainment for $500,000. The companies wanted to use the card as the top prize in a promotional campaign to raise awareness about the baseball card products that Wal-Mart was selling. As part of the contest, the card traveled all across the United States and on February 24th, 1996, the 122nd anniversary of Honus Wagner's birthday, the T206 prize winner was chosen in a random draw made by Brooks Robinson on an episode of CNN's Larry King Weekend. The winner was Patricia Gibbs, a postal worker from Florida.

Gibbs could not afford the taxes on the Honus Wagner T206 so she put it up for auction with Christie's, another New York auction house. Wal-Mart benefited heavily from the exposure and sold more than 30 million packs of baseball cards in a matter of months.

Michael Gidwitz

The Honus Wagner T206 went to auction in 1996 and the top bidder was a familiar name, Michael Gidwitz, one of the men who battled Wayne Gretzky for the card in 1991 and lost. Bill Mastro was also bidding for the card but lost out this time to Gidwitz. According to Mastro, "No one ever wants to separate themselves from the crown jewel of the hobby."

Gidwitz, a Chicago based collector, had to pay a significant premium over the $451,000 1991 price tag. He ended up spending $641,500 to acquire the card in 1996.

Brian Seigel, Anonymous, Anonymous

After owning the Honus Wagner T206 for four years, Gidwitz decided it was time to sell. Instead of approaching a brand name auction house, he used technology to his advantage and made a deal with the largest online auction company in the world: eBay.

Gidwitz partnered with Robert Edwards Auctions, a division of MastroNet, to create a 10 day auction for the card. Prospective bidders had to wire a $100,000 deposit to iEscrow.com to be pre-approved to enter the auction. According to Robert Lifson, director of Robert Edwards Auctions, "I was thinking how could I leverage the publicity value of this card. I thought it would be really something if I approached eBay with this idea."

On July 15th of 2000 the Honus Wagner T206 was sold on eBay to Brian Seigel, a California collector for a record $1,265,000. This was a the first time that a baseball card had sold for more than $1 million. At the time Seigel said "Some day I'll sell it. I guess when I get tired of it. But this was not a business move. I am a collector."

In February 2007, however, Seigel decided that it was indeed time to move on and the card was sold again, this time to an anonymous California buyer via SCP Auctions for $2,350,000. According to SCP President David Kohler, the new owner said "'Let's let the world know and have a news conference, but I don't want my name out there.' We have to respect that."

Finally, on September 6th, 2007 the Honus Wagner T206 it was sold most recently to another anonymous collector for a record $2,800,000. It is rumored that the card will be put on display at a number of upcoming conventions and events.

Who the owner is and when the famed card will next go on sale is anyone's guess. Only time will tell how high the price Honus Wagner T206 can go.

October 2008 Update: It was recently revealed that the current owner of the famous Honus Wagner T206 is E.G. "Ken" Kendrick, managing general partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team. Kendrick is a veteran collector and is believed to be creating a sports museum at Chase Field where the card will be put on display.

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Sunday, February 3, 2008

Honus Wagner Videos

It's hard to find video footage of Honus Wagner so I've put together a listing of the various videos that I have come across online:

YouTube: A 31 second montage of Honus Wagner pictures put to music:



YouTube: A 30 second DHL / MLB commercial featuring a talking Honus Wagner T206 baseball card:



YouTube: A 1:28 news story about the Honus Wagner T206 baseball card:



YouTube: A 2:57 interview with former pitcher Lefty Honce. He talks about his experiences with Honus Wagner at the 1:53 mark:




Baseball Hall of Fame:
The best of all of them is the Baseball Hall of Fame video (unfortunately it can't be embedded!)

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