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'New' Wagner Card Nears $800,000

Not many T206 Honus Wagner cards are still hoarded away by collectors. Would you pass up the opportunity to make several hundred thousand dollars (maybe even a million)? A fresh-to-the-market Wagner card did surface recently, however, at a Philip Weiss auction, reaching nearly $800,000.
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A T206 Honus Wagner card soared to $791,000 at a three-day multi-estate sale held Nov. 21-23 by Philip Weiss Auctions. The card was the top lot in a sale that grossed approximately $1.8 million.

“The only thing keeping the card from realizing a lot more money was its condition, which was SGC-graded 3,” said Philip Weiss of Philip Weiss Auctions. “Still, the presale 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.”

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The auction also featured a collection of original-owner T205 and T206 cards from the same era. The star lot was a highly prized Ray Demmitt error card, SGC-graded 4; it hammered at $7,625.

A Babe Ruth-signed baseball carrying a grade of PSA 9 and obtained by the chairman of the American Legion League at Shibe Park, sold for $67,800.

Approximately 1,200 lots came up for bid in an array of categories and not just sports items. About 300 people packed the Philip Weiss Auctions showroom, located in Oceanside, N.Y., over the course of the weekend. Another 2,000 bidders registered online, submitting about twice that many bids, while many phone and absentee bids were recorded.

“It was a good, very active sale,” Weiss said.

Some of the other auction highlights (including the 13-percent buyer’s premium) were as follows:
A Sid Luckman game-worn football jersey, still smudged with dirt from the gridiron, earned $32,770. Luckman played quarterback for the Chicago Bears from 1939-50. He is credited with popularizing the “T Formation,” where the quarterback lines up directly behind the center. The jersey came from the consignor, who was given the shirt after a game at Wrigley Field in Chicago in the 1940s.

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A large bronze figure of a nomadic desert brigand, executed by Franz Xavier Bergmann (Austrian, 1861-1936), went for $8,755. The sculpture, 21 inches tall and in very good condition, was cast in the cire perdue (or “lost wax”) method Bergmann was so well known for. The Viennese artist produced many detailed and colorful cold-painted bronze Middle Eastern, Oriental and animal figures.

An original “Prince Valiant” Sunday comics page from March 1956 (23-by-34 inches) rendered by the noted comic illustrator Hal Foster, garnered $16,950. Also, a letter typed and signed by Albert Einstein, in a custom clam-shell box, realized $10,450. The letter, dated Sept. 6, 1946, talks about an article written by author John Hershey that year for The New Yorker magazine regarding Hiroshima.

A manuscript copy of The Writings of Henry David Thoreau (Boston, 1906), with two half-page handwritten pages by Thoreau in volume 1 of 24 rose to $13,560. The leather-bound set, No. 34 of 600 sets, was in very-good condition. Also, a copy of Sir Isaac Newton’s Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Amsterdam, 1723), in the original binding, went to a determined bidder for $11,300.

Philip Weiss Auctions will conclude the year with yet another weekend event slated for Dec. 20-21. Featured will be the Ken Allisburg soda fountain and ice cream advertising collection. Allisburg filled a five-room apartment with Hires, Orangeade and other syrup dispensers; ice cream trays, prototypes, soda fountain accessories and signs; figural ice cream pieces; and much more. Also from Allisburg’s collection: trolley signs, vintage Coca-Cola advertising, clothing and candy boxes (mostly from the 1920s and ’30s), kitchen advertising (cardboard signs and tins, die-cuts and triptych signs) and a wonderful selection of toys, including boxed amusement ride toys. Also to be sold will be 200-300 lots of toy trains, including a nice selection of early Lionel and American Flyer.

Also scheduled to cross the block in December is Part 3 of the B.L. “Phil” Philips Collection, comprising mostly of battery-operated toys. And recently consigned to the gallery: a very nice collection of various vintage slot and coin-operated machines, additional vintage advertising signs and a large collection of toy soldiers.

“We are looking to ring out the current year in grand style,” Weiss said.

To consign an item, estate or collection, call Phillip Weiss Auctions at (516) 594-0731, or e-mail them at To learn more about the firm and its calendar of upcoming sales, or to view images of some lots to be offered in the Dec. 20-21 auction, log on to