Honus Wagner - 1909-1911 T206 White Border

This is the Holy Grail of all trading cards. This card, which resides in one of the most popular sets of all time, features one of baseball's greatest players and it remains the symbol of trading card collecting. This card is also one of the great rarities, though it is not the scarcest in the hobby That said, this card has taken on a life of its own and no card has ever sold for anywhere close to the sale of the finest example known, the famous PSA NM-MT 8. Once owned by hockey legend Wayne Gretzky and Bruce McNall, that copy sold for an astonishing $2,800,000 in 2007, the only seven-figure price ever paid for a trading card as of this writing. Even low-grade copies have sold for well over $100,000.

The reason behind the rarity has been debated for years. Was it a mere contract dispute? Was it a result of a stand taken by Wagner, not wanting to promote tobacco use to children since the cards were packed with cigarettes? No one knows for sure, but documentation from the era has surfaced supporting the theory that Wagner may have had his younger fans in mind. It is ironic since Wagner was an avid user of tobacco. He is actually pictured on a 1948 Leaf card holding an enormous wad of chew. No matter what theory you believe, the card was pulled from production early, leaving approximately 60-75 or so known copies in the hobby today. Keep in mind that most of the surviving Wagners have Sweet Caporal backs. Only a few exhibit Piedmont backs, which includes the finest example of them all.

Johannes Peter “Honus” “Hans” Wagner

Born: February 24, 1874 - Chartiers, PA
Died: December 6, 1955 - Carnegie, PA
Batted: RH
Threw: RH
Position: SS
Career BA: .327
Managerial Record: 1–4

Louisville Colonels NL (1897–1899)
Pittsburgh Pirates NL (1900–1916; player/manager: 1917)

Known as “The Flying Dutchman,” Honus Wagner is the focal point of the T206 collection. Putting the value of his card aside, he is considered by many to be the greatest shortstop of all time. He led the National League in batting eight times and hit over .300 an amazing 16 times. His best year was 1900, when he batted an incredible .381. Over his historic career, Wagner banged out 3,415 hits and knocked in 1,732 runs. Many books have been written about the great Wagner. Suffice it to say that the T206 set has become the most sought after collection because of one player, The Flying Dutchman. A member of the first class elected to the Hall of Fame in 1936, Wagner placed second in the voting (to Ty Cobb), tied with Babe Ruth.

– Tom and Ellen Zappala, The T206 Collection: The Players and Their Stories 

Click link to see a complete population breakdown by tobacco brand/back

Condition Census (Explain)

Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 NM-MT 8
2 EX 5
3 VG-EX 4
4 VG 3
4 VG 3
4 VG 3
4 VG 3
6 GOOD 2 (10)


Date Price Grade Lot # Auction House Auction/Seller Type Cert
12/15/2006 $294,338 2 1 Memory Lane, Inc. Holy Grail Auction Auction 30016367
12/19/2004 $101,410 1 1418 Lelands December 2004 Auction 11967279
01/01/2009 $399,500 1 2 Robert Edward Auctions 2009 Auction Auction 05513734
01/01/2010 $282,000 1 3 Robert Edward Auctions 2010 Auction Auction 31641776
01/01/2013 $402,900 1 2 Robert Edward Auctions 2013 Auction Auction 05513734