Memory Lane Inc. has announced the record-setting sale of what is considered the most iconic baseball card in the sports collecting hobby, the T206 Honus Wagner.
The professionally authenticated card rated a grade of 40 (very good) by Sportscard Guaranty and sold for $925,000. It is the highest price paid for a Wagner card in this condition and the third highest recorded price ever paid for a baseball card of any kind. The top two are also Wagner cards; a near mint version that sold for $2.8 million in 2007 and an excellent condition copy that brought $1.62 million at auction last year.
Memory Lane brokered the sale between two unidentified east coast collectors. The owner had kept it in his personal collection for about ten years before deciding to sell.
The Wagner card’s scarcity stems from the American Tobacco Company’s decision to pull the card from production not long after its release in 1909. It’s believed Wagner did not want early 20th century kids to have to buy packs of cigarettes to obtain his picture and demanded the card be removed from the now-iconic set of cards now cataloged as “T206”. Long-time collectors and dealers believe that fewer than 100 T206 Wagner cards exist, perhaps no more than 60. The story behind the card and Wagner’s status as a Hall of Famer have made it the most popular and desired card of all time.
“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 SGC 40 Wagner card exhibits better eye appeal than most of the Wagner cards that have been sold in recent years, without the heavy creasing that has accompanied some of them.
“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.
Memory Lane has brokered the sale of a number of high grade baseball cards and memorabilia in recent years. Sales have included a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle, PSA 9 ($375,000; a 1927 New York Yankees team signed photograph ($350,000), 1933 Goudey Lou Gehrig PSA 10 ($325,000), 1914 Cracker Jack Joe Jackson, PSA 8, $250,000 and a 1954 Topps Hank Aaron rookie card, PSA 10 ($250,000).
While the buyer is anxious to take possession, the Wagner card has not changed hands yet. Memory Lane is giving collectors a chance to see it up close when it goes on display during the upcoming National Sports Collectors Convention at the I-X Center in Cleveland, OH July 29-August 2.