A 1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner baseball card sold the week of May 27 for $1.2 million. The private sale of the card, which was graded in “Good 2” condition on a scale of 1 to 10 by Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA), marks the sports collectibles industry’s first transaction of $1 million or more in 2019. The deal was brokered by SCP Auctions in Laguna Niguel, California.
This example of the Wagner card sold twice before at auction, realizing $657,250 in 2014 and $776,750 in 2016. The 54 percent increase in value ($423,250) this time around comes as no surprise to hobby insiders.
“This sale demonstrates that even in a frothy stock market, a low-grade Wagner card can still fetch over one million dollars,” said David Kohler, president of SCP Auctions. “It’s truly a remarkable amount for a card in PSA 2 grade. It’s only a matter of time that any PSA-graded card in even lower condition will bring a million dollars.”
The mystique and rarity behind the T206 Wagner card remain its most ardent selling points. A shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates at the turn of the last century, Wagner – an eight-time National League batting champion – was said to be upset with his likeness being used within an American Tobacco Company product. His refusal of the company’s request for permission to use his image led the ATC to end production of Wagner's card almost as soon as it started. Only a few dozen examples of the famed Wagner card are known to exist and just six have ever been graded higher by PSA than the one recently sold.