A rare 1909 card of Pittsburgh Pirates Shortstop Honus Wagner might fetch up to $1.5 million in an online auction. Titled as the sport’s most famous collectible by the National Baseball Hall of Fame, a 102-year-old baseball card should sell for between $1.2 million and $1.5 million, said Bill Goodwin, president of St. Louis-based sports memorabilia auctioneer Goodwin & Co.
Honus Wagner was a legendary baseball player who is generally considered one of the finest all-around players in the history of National League baseball, and for some, the greatest shortstop in baseball history.
The Wagner card – sometimes called the Mona Lisa or Holy Grail of baseball trading cards – was originally published and released by the American Tobacco Trust in 1909. American Tobacco was using the cards and the players to promote its various brands of cigarettes. Wagner himself stopped production of the cards, although his exact objection remains unclear (some say Wagner did so because he wanted a bigger promotional fee and others say he didn’t want children buying and smoking cigarettes to get his picture), so cards became a rarity.
The Wagner card is part of Goodwin & Co.’s Masterpieces and Uncommon Commons XL, an auction of 528 baseball cards from the T206 series released in 1909. All 528 cards are owned by unidentified Houston businessman. It is graded a 3 by Sportscard Guaranty LLC.
I’ve been doing this for 26 years, and it’s got to be the highlight of my career, said Bill Godwin. It’s very exciting, and I feel very fortunate to be able to handle it.
Other lots in the auction include a card of former Philadelphia Athletics pitcher Eddie Plank (the card is graded 5.5 by SGC and features a unique Piedmont 150 back), Hall of Fame players Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson and Cy Young.
The auction lots close at 10 p.m. New York time on April 19, when those who placed a previous bid can continue to increase their offer. Each lot officially ends when there have been no bids for 15 minutes. [Goodwin & Co.]