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T206 Honus Wagner ‘Jumbo’ card could top $5 million at auction

The world’s most valuable baseball card, the T206 Honus Wagner ‘Jumbo’ card, is heading for sale at Goldin Auctions.
Dating from 1909, the card is one of the most famous in the entire collecting hobby, and will be offered with an estimate in excess of $5 million.

Other vintage cards may exist in far smaller numbers, but none hold the mystique of the Honus Wagner T206, regarded by experts as the "Mona Lisa of baseball cards".

Wagner, nicknamed ‘The Flying Dutchman’, was a shortstop who spent the majority of his playing career with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He is rated as one of the finest players of Baseball’s ‘Dead Ball’ era, and was described by Ty Cobb himself as "maybe the greatest star ever to take the diamond."

According to legend, the initial rarity of the t206 Wagner card stemmed from the player’s dislike of tobacco. Although every other card in the set was printed in the tens of thousands, Wagner refused to allow the American Tobacco Company to use his image, and it’s believed that less than 200 were ever distributed before he shut production down.

Today around 60 examples remain in existence, but the vast majority are in poor condition. Just three cards have been graded PSA 5 or higher, including the ‘Jumbo’ card – so named for its extra large white borders.

Although the card’s rating is lowered because of its less-than-crisp edges, the larger border means that the image within is practically perfect. It currently holds the auction record for the card, set in 2013 when it sold at Goldin Auctions for $2.1 million, and experts believe it could easily surpass that figure just three years on.

According to the auction house, "this is the artifact that continues to be the ultimate goal of every enthusiast, and which singlehandedly acts as a figurehead for our hobby in the estimation of the masses. This special card represents the cherished essence of the innumerable, rewarding lifetimes spent in pursuit of collecting fulfillment."

This ‘Holy Grail’ card will be the star lot of Goldin Auctions’ inaugural Great American Trading Card Auction, which opens for bidding on September 12 and closes on October 1.

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