A highly rare Honus Wagner T206 baseball card has become the first item of sports memorabilia to break the $1 million mark in 2019.
According to reports, the ‘Holy Grail’ of baseball cards sold in a private transaction brokered by SCP Auctions for $1.2 million.
It’s the first time a copy of the card graded PSA 2 (Good) has achieved a seven-figure sum.
Honus Wagner (1874 – 1955) is regarded as one of the finest baseball players of the Dead Ball Era, although the remarkable price of the card is due in large part to its rarity.
The T206 set was originally distributed in packets of tobacco between 1909 and 1911, but Wagner refused to authorize his appearance in the series.
Many believe he was upset that his likeness would be used to promote tobacco products to children; whereas others suggest that Wagner had already appeared in several tobacco adverts during his career, and the dispute was merely about money.
Whatever the reason, production on the card ceased almost as soon as it began. Whereas most cards were printed in their thousands, it’s believed that fewer than 200 copies of the Wagner card were ever distributed to the public.
Today it’s thought that there are less than 60 authentic examples in existence, along with a number of notorious fakes that have appeared on the market over the years.
The majority of those surviving cards are in poor condition, which is unsurprising for a 110-year-old piece of cardboard, and only six have been professionally graded higher than ‘2’ out of ’10’.
When it comes to most collectibles, seven-figure sums are usually reserved exclusively for items in mint condition.
However, the rarity and iconic nature of the Honus Wagner T206 card means that top collectors will happily spend seven figures to own a copy in any condition.
“This sale demonstrates that even in a frothy stock market, a low-grade Wagner card can still fetch over one million dollars,” SCP Auctions president David Kohler told Sports Collectors Daily.
“It’s truly a remarkable amount for a card in PSA 2 grade.”
The record price for a Wagner card – or any baseball card for that matter – was set back in 2016, when an example graded PSA 5 sold at Goldin Auctions for $3.12 million.
That same year, the card recently sold by SCP hit the auction block at Heritage, where it achieved a price of $776,750.
The new price of $1.2 million marks a 54% increase in value in just three years, clearly illustrating the continued growth of the market for rare baseball cards.