Honus Wagner T206 card sells for record $7.25 million

August 5th, 2022
Courtesy of Goldin

The T206 Honus Wagner card has long been viewed by collectors as the "Mona Lisa" of sports cards. It seems that on a regular basis, a T206 is sold for a record amount. That's what happened in August of last year, when one sold at an auction for $6.6 million, setting the record for the most expensive sports card of all time. 

But that was last year. On Thursday, less than two weeks from the one-year mark of the 2021 sale, another T206 sold for far more, breaking its own record. The new mark is $7.25 million, according to Goldin Auctions, who announced it following a private sale.

Wagner, of course, was a Hall of Fame shortstop who won eight batting titles and hit .328/.391/.467 (151 OPS+) over a 21-year Major League career spent mostly with the Pirates. But his greatness as a player is not the primary reason his T206 card, which was issued in 1909 by the American Tobacco Company, is considered so valuable

There are thought to be only 50-60 copies of the card in existence, making it one of the rarest sports cards in the world. 

“I’ve been in this business for a very long time and seen a lot of incredible trading cards and pieces of memorabilia,” Goldin founder and executive chairman Ken Goldin said in a statement, “but there is nothing on earth like a T206 card.

“There’s a reason why no Wagner card has ever sold for less than it was previously purchased for -- the card is art, it’s history, it’s folklore. The T206 is one of the reasons I do what I do and why serious collectors around the world love this hobby so much. To be a part of history and facilitate this record-breaking sale is an honor.” 

As they say, records are made to be broken. And it may not be long before this one is eclipsed. According to ESPN, an ultra-rare 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card is currently up for auction by Heritage Auctions and is expected to fetch a whopping $10 million or more.