Friday, August 11, 2006

Vintage Card Talk: Is This a Real Wagner?

Over the past week the talk of the hobby has been the emergence of a T206 Honus Wagner card. This is the most desirable and famous of all vintage cards. Less than 100 are known to exist. BTW, its not the rarest card in the hobby by any stretch of the imagination. There are many vintage one of a kind rarities in the hobby. It is just that the Wagner card has mystique. As the story goes, Honus Wagner refused to allow his likeness to be placed on any tobacco products. Popular lore states that he did not want children to buy packs of cigarettes to get his card and Honus Wagner was against children smoking. Whether that is true is unknown, but we do know that production of the card was stopped. Since Honus Wagner is one of Baseball's enshrined members and the T206 set happens to be the most popular vintage Baseball set in existence values have steadily risen to unprecedented levels. The most famous Wagner card was formerly owned by Wayne Gretzky and Bruce McNall (former owner of the Los Angeles Kings) and sold in 2000 for $1,265,000.00 in NrMint PSA8 condition. It is unquestionably the best condition of any Wagner known to exist.

This new Wagner has a bit of mystique as well. The owners claim it originally came from an estate sale over 20 years ago. Also, they have received a paper analysis of the card that claims it is of vintage quality. An auction house, Bob Connelly, now has this card on auction on their website and on eBay with a starting price of $300,000.00. (The eBay listing has since been pulled.) The wrinkle, that has caused so much talk, has been the owners unwillingness to allow the card to be graded professionally. Apparently, they do not want the card out of their sight. Obviously, this is a big red flag for collectors. A card like this will rarely sell unless it has been professionally graded. It's an industry standard. Furthermore, the owners claim that racism is a problem. They believe that grading firms will not give them a fair shake since they are African American. Of course, this claim causes more uneasiness for the collector.

Now, I have not personally seen this card, but the photos made available do not look good. I will also add that I am not an expert, so take my opinions with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, if your so inclined, check out the controversy. I've provided links below:

Auction House Link:

Other article stories: Sports Collectors Daily:
PR Web:
Vintage Card Forum: 4 different threads 1, 2, 3, 4
Thread #3 has the owner responding to vintage collectors.
A photo collection of 19 different real Wagners:

Is it real, or is it fake? Who knows?

I will add this: There is no way I would purchase a Wagner, if I had the money, that was not graded by a respected firm. No Way!

Update: The card did not sell in this past weekends auction.

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