Tick Tock -- T206 Honus Wagner Going, Going, Gone

When people think of investing, they generally think of stocks, bonds, commodities or even real estate. They probably do not think about sports memorabilia and baseball cards. That may be good in general, but the Holy Grail of sports collectibles is certainly one of the many great exceptions. This weekend marks yet another chance for alternative investors and sports memorabilia collectors to get a T206 Honus Wagner card from the 1909 to 1911 American Tobacco collection. Goldin Auctions has this one up for sale by auction, to qualified bidders of course.

For those of you who do not follow baseball much, or at all, chances are still very high that you have heard of the famed T206 Honus Wagner. There are believed to be around only 60 known samples of this card, and they literally have sold for millions of dollars. Samples of the card come up for sale once, or as much as a few times, each year, and the price pattern generally has done nothing but rise.

This particular Honus Wagner card is even more special than most of the others. It is called the “Jumbo Honus Wagner” because it is larger. It has been given a PSA 5 rating on a scale of 1 to 10, and it has an “MC” designation due to its size. Full details of this particular card are available.

The reasons for the scarcity of the card are often tied to Wagner not wanting kids drawn to tobacco, but it turns out that the more likely and plausible explanation was a contract dispute that let Wagner have the card pulled from running. In 1909, Honus Wagner was considered to be the top name in baseball, as Ty Cobb was only on the scene a few years. Wagner was such a star that he was in the first five inaugurations (the rookie class) at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. He even scored the same number of votes as Babe Ruth from sports journalists electing baseball players into the Hall of Fame that year.

I personally got a chance to see this particular T206 Honus Wagner for the first time in New York in late March. It was then on display at the Audemars Piguet luxury watch store in New York City.

Goldin Auctions has very high expectations for this T206 Wagner auction. I have spoken with sports collectors to see what the sale could fetch. My own projection was somewhere around $2.1 million to $2.4 million, but one collector guessed that, with the economy being better now, it could go for maybe as much as $3 million. Goldin Auctions said on the matter:

The last time this card was offered for public sale was during the financial crisis in 2008. At that time the card auctioned off for $1.62 million. Since that time the average graded Wagner has appreciated 70% in value. We are opening this at a modest opening bid of $500,000 with no reserve.

This particular auction ends on Friday, April 5, and it is expected that the bids will increase before the end of the day. As of 10:45 a.m. EST on Friday, there had been 14 bids, and the last accepted bid was $1,771,796.00. We expect that the bids for this auction will act somewhat like you often see on eBay, where bidding escalates more and more as you get closer to the end.

UPDATE 2:35 PM EST: It is surprising but the official bidding still remains 14 bids at the $1.771 million price.

My own image is below, but it was not taken with high resolution, and it was cold and bitter enough outside that I do not think my hands had regained their full feelings yet.

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