Typically, high-priced sports cards are in pristine condition or close to it. But this was not the case for a card that sold at auction for nearly $500,000 over the weekend. A Honus Wagner card, with just more than half of the card intact, went for $475,960 at SCP Auctions on Saturday.
The bottom right corner of the card is missing, but that did not make sports card enthusiasts any less willing to reach into their pockets.
The auction website explained the card’s history and why Wagner cards are so rare. It reads:
“The exact number of T206 Wagners in the hobby today is not known, but the common estimate is around 60. Besides the PSA NM-MT 8 (in)famous “Gretzky Wagner,” most of the surviving examples are in poor to good condition, with substantial creasing or other physical imperfections. This example, too, is clearly far from mint condition. Though slightly more than 50% of the card remains, in our opinion it is still more valuable than 90% of sports cards in existence.”
The card was initially issued in 1909 by the American Tobacco Company, but Wagner — a Baseball Hall of Famer who spent most of his 21-year MLB career with the Pirates — did not allow the company to make them, meaning not all of the planned cards were distributed. According to MLB.com, only 50-200 of the cards of the Pirates shortstop were ever distributed.
Some say the reason he did not give his consent for the cards to be published is because he did not want to be associated with a cigarette company to deter his young fans. Other legends have it that he was not compensated and that is why he denied the tobacco company.
This card is considered a steal compared to the T206 Honus Wagner card that sold for $6.6 million in August 2021, the most expensive sports card of all time.