A T206 Honus Wagner baseball card bought for $6.606 million — which features a 20% purchaser’s premium — early Monday morning, shattering the document for highest-selling sports activities card of all time.
The earlier document belonged to a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card that sold for $5.2 million in January, a document later matched by a 2003-04 Higher Deck Beautiful Assortment LeBron James-autographed rookie jersey card in April.
The vendor of the Wagner card is an “East Coast collector.” Each vendor and purchaser desire to stay nameless.
“This Wagner stands out due to its situation,” mentioned Brian Dwyer, president of Robert Edward Auctions, which brokered the deal. “There’s solely about 60 of those that we will affirm by way of numerous inhabitants reviews and accessible grading knowledge. Of these 60, most are rated poor, genuine or good, at finest. This card is without doubt one of the finest examples on the market, and it is definitely top-of-the-line examples accessible.”
This Wagner card acquired a grade of three from Sportscard Warranty Corp. (SGC). In accordance with inhabitants reviews from the three greatest card-grading corporations — Skilled Sports activities Authenticator (PSA), Beckett Grading Providers (BGS) and SGC — solely 4 T206 Wagners have been graded increased than a 3, mixed, all in personal collections.
The cardboard was on show on the Nationwide Sports activities Collectors Conference in Rosemont, Illinois, in July. Practically 100,000 folks attended the convention — the second-largest attendance in its historical past — with 46.4% of attendees reported as first-timers.
Except for the T206 set being printed from 1909 to 1911, there is a divisive lore behind the early manufacturing stoppage of Wagner’s card, one more reason there are so few in existence.
“Did he not get sufficient cash from the American Tobacco Co. or did he not need to be related to cigarettes?” Dwyer hypothesized to ESPN. “These are theories that [have made it] noteworthy for over a century.”
Wagner was an early pioneer of endorsements, lending his identify to Louisville Slugger as the primary skilled athlete to obtain endorsement cash. He additionally hawked gum, soda, gunpowder, razors and lent his picture to cigar bands, solely strengthening Wagner’s declare as a NIL rights trailblazer a century in the past.
Dwyer additionally famous it does not damage that the Wagner — since 1939, when Jefferson Burdick valued the Wagner at $50 in his inaugural “United States Card Collectors Catalog,” later often called “The American Card Catalog” — has lengthy been the cardboard trade’s pièce de resistance.
“We’re going again 80 years folks knew it was precious,” Dwyer advised ESPN.
“In 1973, this Wagner was the primary Wagner card ever bought at public public sale,” mentioned Andrew Aronstein, son of Mike Aronstein, a late Twentieth-century card trade pioneer who initially got here throughout the cardboard that yr. “My dad was conscious of what was about to occur within the passion, however I do not suppose he imagined the cardboard reselling for $6 million.”
Fred McKie, a buddy of the elder Aronstein, has additionally been blown away by the transformation of the trade he grew up in.
“In [the early days], card conventions had been simply collectors who had tables — no one got here off the road,” McKie advised ESPN. “There have been no autograph visitors — all of us simply had our personal space, traded and purchased stuff backwards and forwards.”
At one such conference in Detroit, Mike Aronstein discovered a coup for McKie: a T206 Wagner up for public sale.
“I had simply gotten my tax refund and bought my complete desk,” McKie recollects. “I gained it that evening.”
McKie paid $1,100 for the T206 Wagner in 1973. In 1976, he bought it for $2,500. Early Monday, McKie watched the uncommon card he as soon as owned take the document.
“I’ve identified the precise card bought for $1.2 million in 2012,” McKie advised ESPN. “Each time it goes, it goes for increasingly.
“As a lot as I want to have the cardboard again — and I certain would — there’s good and dangerous. You’ve blended feelings.”
McKie opened a shoe retailer with the cash from promoting his Wagner and different playing cards of that period. He says he is grateful that the cash helped him begin a enterprise, which yielded a number of places, and he was in a position to retire at 55.
“I owned it at one time, [was] a part of its historical past,” McKie mentioned.