The Wagner Card
<i>The Wagner Card</i>

In an auction that featured many outstanding lots of fine sports memorabilia, one PSA card stole the show.

The famous T206 Honus Wagner card, graded NM-MT 8 by PSA, sold for an astounding $1,265,000. The final dollar figure was a world record price for a sportscard. In fact, it was the first card to break the $1,000,000 mark and the price nearly doubled the previous price record held by the very same card. The previous record, $640,500, was recorded at Christies in 1996.

The high bidder on the famous Wagner card was Brian Seigel of Southern California. Seigel was featured in the July issue of the SMR in the Collector Profile section. The article was entitled Reeling in the Rarities. Now Seigel can claim to own the most legendary rarity of them all.

There were a lot of factors that contributed to the success of the sale and Rob Lifson, President of Robert Edward Auctions, explained why the interest was so high. “Initially, I was surprised by the interest in the card, but this card is so special that the interest makes sense,” explained Lifson. “When this card was on display at shows, people would line up just to take pictures with it. On the Internet, millions of people were checking on the card. What other card could generate interest even close to this? With six active bidders between $500,000 and the final price, it was a great sign for the hobby.”

Lifson was also very pleased by the final price on the Wagner. “We were hoping for a million dollars and I thought, at that level, it was worth every penny,” explained Lifson. “It would end up exceeding our hopes by a significant margin so we were ecstatic. The consignor was pleased and the buyer, in my opinion, got a great deal on a card that should appreciate in the coming years.”

In addition to the Wagner card, the auction featured many incredible pieces including other significant PSA graded cards. The final tally for the auction was a tremendous $7,170,230. Below is a list of 50 selected highlights from the sale.

Item     Price 
PSA 8 1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner      $1,265,000 
1919 Chicago White Sox Team Signed Ball      $93,666 
1909 T204 Ramly Set      $71,349 
T202 Christy Mathewson Advertising Poster      $62,540 
Babe Ruth Signed Baseball      $76,020 
1914 Baltimore Orioles Team Photo w/Ruth      $26,435 
Circa 1910 Ty Cobb Tobacco Tin      $24,653 
PSA 8 1948 Leaf Joe DiMaggio      $20,343 
Jackie Robinson's Last Game-Used Bat      $43,679 
PSA Authentic 1863 Harry Wright(1st baseball card)      $83,542 
PSA 8 1887 N28 Allen & Ginter Charles Comiskey      $7,948 
Jimmie Foxx Signed Baseball      $17,046 
1915 Boston Red Sox Team Signed Ball w/Ruth      $22,377 
PSA 10 1981 Topps Joe Montana Rookie      $12,501 
1921 Joe Jackson Pool Hall Bill of Sale      $36,098 
PSA 8 1915 Cracker Jack Joe Jackson      $54,146 
PSA 8 1915 Cracker Jack Walter Johnson      $30,925 
PSA 7 1915 Cracker Jack Christy Mathewson      $12,501 
PSA 8 1933 Sport Kings Walter Hagen      $5,829 
PSA 8 1932 U.S. Caramel Bobby Jones      $12,329 
1965-1968 Ernie Banks Game-Used/Autographed Bat      $9,607 
1921-1931 Earle Combs Game-Used Bat      $14,087 
1916-1920 Johnny Evers Game-Used Bat      $9,619 
1934-1943 Hank Greenberg Game-Used Bat      $8,744 
1961-1964 Sandy Koufax Game-Used/Autographed Bat      $28,114 
1965-1968 Mickey Mantle Game-Used Bat      $13,112 
1998 Mark McGwire Game-Used Bat      $7,760 
1999 Mark McGwire Game-Used Bat      $4,710 
1934-1943 Mel Ott Game-Used Bat      $19,860 
1921-1931 Tris Speaker Game-Used Bat      $10,835 
1920 Babe Ruth Signed Display Photograph      $103,268 
1903 Christy Mathewson Contract      $27,119 
PSA 7 1933 Goudey Napoleon Lajoie      $36,980 
PSA 8 1948 Leaf Babe Ruth      $9,030 
PSA 8 1952 Topps Willie Mays      $9,619 
1953 Bowman Near Set (152 PSA cards)      $71,349 
PSA 8 1954 Bowman Ted Williams      $11,207 
1960 Sandy Koufax Game-Used Jersey      $35,196 
1981 Cal Ripken Game-Used Rookie Jersey      $26,435 
1968 Nolan Ryan Game-Used/Autographed Jersey      $32,816 
1969 Tom Seaver Game-Used Jersey      $32,816 
1957 Roberto (Momen) Clemente Game-Used Bat      $14,424 
1950-60 Harmon Killebrew Game-Used/Autographed Bat      $6,898 
1950-60 Willie Mays Game-Used/Autographed Bat      $11,641 
1951-1957 Stan Musial Game-Used/Autographed Bat      $8,733 
1934-1943 Joe DiMaggio Game-Used Bat      $27,119 
1934 Lou Gehrig Goudey Advertising Poster      $49,223 
1921-1931 Lou Gehrig Game-Used Bat      $49,223 
Babe Ruth Signed Baseball      $48,048 
1934 Goudey Uncut Sheet w/Lajoie      $127,436


The one, major strength of the auction was the variety of items offered. There were high-grade PSA cards, vintage game-used bats and jerseys, rare autographs and unique display items throughout the vast catalogue. Lifson commented on the great selection. “There was something for just about everyone in this auction,” said Lifson. “As far as cards were concerned, everything in a PSA holder did extremely well.”

Another PSA graded card that received major attention was the 1863 “Grand Match at Hoboken” Benefit card featuring Harry Wright. Lifson told us that, of all the lots in the auction, he was most proud of this card’s success. “It’s very rare that something comes up for sale with a lot of age and significance to it that is completely new to the hobby,” explained Lifson. “When it was originally found and purchased, no one knew exactly what the item was. Our research really helped unearth all the details and when we realized that this was indeed the first card ever produced, we knew it belonged in a PSA holder.”

Predicting where this card would end up was another story according to Lifson. “It was obvious by the price realized for the card that collectors appreciated the piece and valued the rich history behind it,” explained Lifson. “The collectors had to decide for themselves what this card was worth because there was no price history, but I think our research efforts helped inform the buyers of what they were bidding on.”

Other noted PSA highlights included a 1915 Cracker Jack Joe Jackson graded PSA NM-MT 8. Lifson was very pleased with the interest on this lot. “I had no idea that this card would end up bringing in excess of $50,000,” explained Lifson. “We had 10 different bidders on this one which was a surprise, but the card was extremely high-end.”

In addition, Lifson noted that display pieces and autographs were strong across the board. In particular, a fine Ruth ball with exceptional history and a 1919 Chicago White Sox team ball received major bidding. “The Ruth example, which set a record in 1992, broke the current price record for a single signed baseball which was set just a few months ago, and we had another Ruth baseball that sold for almost $50,000,” explained an ecstatic Lifson. “If we had 100 Ruth balls, they all would sell with no problem. The demand for Ruth signed items far exceeds the supply. The 1919 White Sox team ball is, in my opinion, the finest team ball on the planet in terms of difficulty and importance. The winning bidder of that ball now owns a spectacular piece with a lot of potential.”

Lifson was most excited by the overall market strength at the end of the bidding. “The strength of the market is stronger than the actual prices realized because the interest is way up,” said Lifson. “Collectors are becoming more sophisticated, they are learning more and becoming more appreciative of the best material. It’s a natural progression. Collectors start to realize that the best quality is where the greatest appreciation is.”

Robert Edward Auctions is slated to run another high-profile auction in early 2001. They are currently taking consignments for that auction. We will keep you posted when the auction arrives. Until then, save your pennies!

1948 Leaf Joe DiMaggio PSA  8
1948 Leaf Joe DiMaggio PSA 8
1948 Leaf Babe Ruth PSA 8
1948 Leaf Babe Ruth PSA 8

Joe Orlando has been an advanced collector of sportscards and memorabilia for over 25 years. Orlando attended Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California where he studied communications and was the starting catcher for the baseball team. After a brief stint in the minor leagues, Orlando obtained a Juris Doctor from Whittier Law School in Southern California in the spring of 1999. During the last fourteen years, Orlando has authored several collecting guides and dozens of articles for Collectors Universe, Inc. Orlando has also authored two books for Collectors Universe. Orlando's first book, The Top 200 Sportscards in the Hobby, was released in the summer of 2002. His second book, Collecting Sports Legends, was released in the summer of 2008. Orlando has appeared on several radio and television programs as a hobby expert including ESPN's award-winning program Outside the Lines and HBO's Real Sports, as the featured guest. Currently, Orlando is the President of PSA and PSA/DNA, the largest trading card and sports memorabilia authentication services in the hobby. He is also Editor of the company's nationally distributed Sports Market Report, which under Orlando's direction has developed into a leading resource in the market. Orlando also contributed the foreword and last chapter to The T206 Collection: The Players and Their Stories, a 2010 release, and to The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball's Prized Players, a 2013 release.