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Honus "Hans" Wagner Baseball Card
Baseball card values, like values for everything else in the world of collecting, are often increased as much by mythmaking as by the truth.
And in the case of the now world-famous Honus Wagner card of 1909, the only truth we know for sure is the increasing amount of money the card sells for when it comes up at auction.
Wagner was a shortstop, star hitter, and great
fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1897 to 1917. He was one of the
first five players inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936 in
Cooperstown, New York.
It's said that he was an early pioneer in the anti-smoking movement, insisting a card issued in 1909 with his likeness be removed from tobacco packages for fear that children would start smoking. That would account for the card's rarity.
"I don't want my picture in any cigarettes, but I
also don't want you to lose the ten dollars, so I'm enclosing my check for that
sum." Honus Wagner.
But then, Wagner was well-known for always having a wad of chewing tobacco in his cheek. His picture even appeared on cigar boxes and cigar bands, so some say the Wagner story is just that, a story.
But in the end, it doesn't really matter. Sotheby's sold a Wagner card to hockey great Wayne Gretzky and a partner in 1991 for $451,000. The Wal-Mart Company bought it from them (for an undisclosed amount) and it raffled the card off on what would have been Wagner's 122nd birthday. In 1996, the lucky winner put the card up at auction. This time it sold to a Chicago businessman for $640,500.
Today, most sports card experts agree that the card could fetch as much as $1 million at auction — not bad for a "simple" baseball card.
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Last Updated On: Friday, March 27, 2015 03:51 PM