Rare T-206 Honus Wagner baseball card sold for record $7.25 million in private sale

Collectibles Market Goldin reported on Thursday that a T-206 Honus Wagner sold at a private sale for $7.25 million, a record high for a sports card.

The figure eclipsed the $6.606 million fetched for another T-206 Wagner almost a year ago to the day.

The recently sold version of the Wagner was rated 2 out of 10 by Sportscard Guaranty Corp., or SGC; the 2021 record holder received a 3 from SGC.

“There’s nothing on this earth like a T-206 card,” Ken Goldin, executive chairman and founder of Goldin, said in a statement. “There’s a reason no Wagner card has…been sold for less than before – the card is art, it’s history, it’s folklore.”

The folklore of the card is based on its rarity (there are between 50 and 60 copies) and multiple theories as to why there are so few Wagners, including:

  • Wagner’s printing plate breaks during production

  • A copyright dispute between the artist and the tobacco company

  • The most popular theory, offered by Wagner’s family and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, is that Wagner did not want to promote smoking tobacco to children and requested that the card be removed from production.

  • The most logical theory is that Wagner realized he would not be fairly compensated for his name, image and likeness and objected

Whatever the reason(s), so few copies have reached 2022 that the Wagner is regularly called the Holy Grail or Mona Lisa of trading cards.

“The T-206 is one of the reasons I do what I do,” Goldin concluded.

Although the sale is currently the overall record, there is a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card consigned to Heritage Auctions that closes in just over three weeks; it sits at $7.08 million with the buyer’s premium and is expected to approach or eclipse $10 million at closing.

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