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World’s Most Expensive Baseball Card
In the world of sports card and memorabilia collecting, there are a few sought after pieces that have tremendous monetary and historical value to them. One such card is the vintage T206 Honus Wagner baseball card, considered the holy grail of all sports cards by some collectors. The main reason for this is the rarity and age of the card. It is said that there may only be between 50 and 200 cards, and a few of them may still be hiding in the market.
Honus Wagner, as the card itself shows, was a Pittsburgh Pirates player during what is now called the “dead ball” era. Considered one of the game’s greatest players, it’s no surprise that between the years 1909-1911, the American Tobacco Company (ATC) wanted Wagner’s image put on a card to entice people to buy their own brand of tobacco. Wagner’s image was to be part of the T206 series, but some issues arose around permission to use his image, which led to his card’s low number of impressions.
Two theories are floating around that could explain why Honus Wagner stopped production of his card. The first school of thought was based on Honus Wagner’s personal ethical feelings about having fans who were children buying packs of cigarettes in order to get his card; he didn’t think that was right. The second school of thought has more to do with the fact that Wagner was seen as a very shrouded negotiator and that he disliked the compensation offered to him by the ATC.
From January 1909 the ATC sought permission from the player himself, in order to be included in the T206 series of cards, I believe the set had approximately 524 major league players at the time and approximately 76 of those players went on to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The ATC was eager to have Honus part of their publicity campaign, as he was ranked among the best players in the league at the time. Wagner had previously done publicity work with other companies such as a gunpowder company, a soft drink company, as well as a chewing gum company. Whether it was his strong moral feelings or his negotiating skills, no one knows for sure why he actually stopped printing his cards, but it did limit his cards to a small number, which has now exploded. exorbitant price value.
One of the most notorious of all Wagner cards has to be the “Gretzky T206 Honus” card, primarily due to the history of how this particular card exchanged hands with an average collector, shop of sports memorabilia, from a sports memorabilia dealer. ; who went on to found Mastro Auctions. The card then changed hands again to another prominent businessman who was affiliated with George Steinbrenner and the New York Yankees, long story short the Honus card ended up with a memorabilia collector named Copeland who eventually decided to sell his entire personal baseball collection which consisted of approximately 873 pieces.
As the Wagner map is part of this collection, Mastro Auctions has engaged Sotheby’s New York to take the collection on consignment. There was a lot of publicity around this collection put on sale, and it attracted a large number of amateurs and curious people. Many items offered for sale have cost significantly more than the estimated pre-auction price. The initial pre-auction price for the Honus card was set at around $114,000.00, but within minutes of the auction opening it ballooned to $451,000.00, which was paid by Mr. Wayne Gretzky and Mr. Bruce McNall who was the owner of the NHL. team the LA Kings, the pair purchased the card over the phone as part of an auction. After that, the card became known as “Gretzky T206 Honus”.
The purchase of the card was determined to have been orchestrated by Mr. McNall. He stated that if you buy the best in the world, there will always be another buyer who will also want to buy the best, so it was bought as an investment for both individuals. Gretzky eventually resold the card, and he of course made a profit, so I guess in the end Mr. McNall’s thoughts about buying the Wagner card were correct. None of Wagner’s other cards have been so successful in terms of having such a story to tell. The publicity the Gretzky T206 brought to the card’s existence propelled the card even further into the collecting stratosphere. Although the Gretzky card has great entertainment value, it is not the most expensive card to sell. In fact, the most expensive board to ever sell was indeed a Honus Wagner T206, and it took place at an online eBay auction set up by Robert Edward Auctions. The card sold for an insane $1.265 million! So, in closing, this card currently holds the world record for the most expensive baseball card ever sold.
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