Honus Wagner Baseball Card Sells For $1.2 Million, Buyer Remains Anonymous

on April 20 2012 3:43 PM
The third finest known example of the legendary T206 Honus Wagner baseball card from c. 1909 which w..
An anonymous baseball card collector coughed up $1.2 million in order to buy a 1909 Honus Wagner baseball card on Friday. Reuters

An anonymous baseball card collector coughed up $1.2 million in order to buy a 1909 Honus Wagner baseball card on Friday.

I am actually thrilled, said Bill Goodwin, a Sunset Hill, Mich., collectibles dealer who ran an online auction for one of the rarest baseball cards in the world, reported St. Louis Today.

The buyer has not decided whether to make a public appearance yet, said Goodwin. The buyer's bid was the highest of the 14 made since the auction began on March 27, 2012.

You know you always want to get a little more, but we did well, said Goodwin. The final sale price is about $300,000 more than that of the last Wagner that was of a similar physical condition.

Goodwin said the buyer lives in New Jersey and simply went to sleep after staying up until 2 a.m. to win the card. He would not divulge any more information on the lucky buyer.

The auction for the baseball card, often called the The Holy Grail of Baseball Cards, set two records. The baseball card's opening bid went for a staggering $300,000, breaking the record for the highest opening at any card auction. And the final price eclipsed the last Honus Wagner card of similar grade by $300,000, reported KSDK.

We're thrilled with the outcome, Goodwin said, according to the Associated Press. There's been so much media attention surrounding this card, and the final price proved this card was worth watching.

The Honus Wagner baseball card is part of a set of cards known as the T206, which were cards issued from 1909 through 1911 by the American Tobacco Co.  The 2 1/2- by 1 1/2-inch card was released in cigarette packs. However, the card was pulled from circulation only after about 200 were issued, reported the Associated Press.

Many historians believe that Wagner did not want his card associated with a tobacco company. He did not want to encourage young children to start smoking. However, Goodwin said hit could have also been a issue of compensation for his likeness.

Baseball card researchers believe that only 60 Honus Wagner cards exist. However, many are in extremely poor condition. Based on the card rating system by Sportscard Guarantee Corp, the Honus Wagner card that was sold is the sixth best in existence.

In 1991, hockey legend Wayne Gretzky and former Los Angeles Kigs owner Bruce McNall paid $451,000 for the highest graded Wagner card. Since then, Gretzky's card has been owned by various other people. Last year, Ken Kedrick, the owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, paid $2.8 million for it, reported St. Louis Today.

However, Bill Shelton, who works with Goodwin, said the winning bidder may have not been an sports aficionado and came in completely off the radar, reported the AP.

A lot of people were talking about investment and return on investment, Shelton said. I think people are starting to see these high-end cards in the same terms as art and antiques.

Honus Wagner, nicknamed The Flying Dutchman, spent most of his 21-year-carer with the Pittsburgh Pirates, reported the AP. He won eight batting titles and had a career average of .327. He was part of the inaugural Hall of Fame induction class.

Goodwin and his company also auctioned off other cards, including an Eddie Plank which sold for $330,825, a Sherry Magee error card that had his last name misspelled as Magie, which sold four $80,000 and four cards featuring Ty Cobb which were sold for about $10,000.

In his next auction, Goodwin plans to sell a Babe Ruth rookie card, which could bring in about $75,000.

More News from IBT MEDIA