Five Minutes with the Honus Wagner T206

It’s the Holy Grail of baseball cards.  It’s even the Holy Grail of all baseball memorabilia.  The 1909 Honus Wagner T206 card.  It’s currently on display at Audemars Piguet watch store on E. 57th street in Manhattan.  I don’t have the near $3 million (or more) it will cost when the card is sold by Goldin Auctions on April 5th, so I settled for five minutes with the card at the luxury watch store.  It took all my power to not pass out from my excitement.

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Just a small piece of paper worth that much money it’s pretty unbelievable.  This particular T206 Honus Wagner is referred to as the “jumbo” Honus Wagner card as it has bigger borders than any Wagner card on record.  There is another card that is in better condition, but is steeped in controversy about it’s authenticity.  That particular card was once owned by hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.  For more info on that card, you can watch this excellent “30 for 30” short piece on the Wagner T206 here.

Back to this card though!  Why is the Honus Wagner T206 so rare and so valuable?  These original cards would come in packs of tobacco and featured a Sweet Caporal cigarettes advertisement on the back.  Wagner was anti-tobacco and asked that the cards be pulled.  There are only about 50 of these cards left in existence, with most in terrible condition.  It doesn’t hurt that Wagner was a future Hall of Famer and possibly the best player of his era.  It’d almost be like Derek Jeter today pulling every card he was on except for fifty of them.  According to auctioneer Ken Goldin, the “Jumbo Wagner” is “the nicest card ever pulled from a pack”, that’s pretty high praise.

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They are expecting this card to break the record of the other Honus Wagner T206 that was owned by Gretzky and is currently in possession by Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendricks.  That card was sold for $2.8 million.  The “Jumbo Wagner” last sold for $1.62 million in 2008, a record for a baseball card in a public auction.  The bidding is currently at ten bids and selling for $1,271,796.00 with over eleven days left.  It’s safe to assume it will break it’s own record.  I’m just glad I got spend 5 minutes with it, maybe next time it goes on sale I’ll have $4 million in the bank to splurge on.

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

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