Honus Wagner T206 Sets New Record for Most Expensive Trading Card Sale Ever

Honus Wagner T206 Sets New Record for Most Expensive Trading Card Sale Ever article feature image

Photo by Chicago Sun-Times/Chicago Daily News collection/Chicago History Museum/Getty Images. Pictured: Honus Wagner

For years, the T206 Honus Wagner reigned supreme not only as the most famous, but the highest price of all baseball cards, famously selling for $1 million in 2000.

But in the last year alone, a 1952 Mickey Mantle card sold for $5.2 million. And a slew of modern cards trumped the record for a Wagner, $3.75 million paid in May. 

A LeBron James logoman card sold for $5.2 million. A Luka Doncic logoman card sold for $4.6 million. And a Patrick Mahomes rookie patch card recently sold for $4.3 million. 

On Sunday night, the famous card found on cigarette brands from 1909 to 1911, sold at Robert Edwards Auctions for $6,626,096, including buyer’s premium, taking the crown of the most expensive baseball card once again. 

"The T206 Honus Wagner is the most iconic sports card of all-time," said REA president Brian Dwyer. "Collectors relished a rare opportunity to own a Wagner card that was graded this high. It was an honor to auction this Holy Grail, which is now the most valuable sports card of all-time."

Wagner played 21 seasons in the majors, leading the league in batting average eight of those seasons, in slugging percentage for six and stolen bases for five. 

The scarcity of the Wagner card is said to have something to do with Wagner’s dislike for tobacco and therefore didn’t approve of his image tied to the product. As a result, the cards were pulled. 

That doesn’t jive with the fact that Wagner endorsed cigars. Whatever the reason, they started with a scarcity that no other card in the set had. 

This particular example, graded by SGC as a 3, has three cards graded by SGC in its class and four graded by its competitor PSA in higher grades 

This card was originally discovered by collector Mike Aronstein, a steel salesman from Yorktown Heights, NY, who published a magazine named Baseball Collectors Monthly. In 1972, Aronstein found the card in a lot of 600 cards he bought for $112. 

In 1974, New Jersey collector Fred McKie bought the card for $1,100. McKie sold it to famed collector Barry Halper, who also lived in New Jersey for an undisclosed price and Halper traded it to a collector in Texas, where it had been for more than 30 years, according to REA. The card last sold in 2012 for $1.2 million.

Since then, Wagners have sold for $2.2 million, $2.5 million and $3.75 million. 

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