Honus Wagner Baseball Card Crushes Most Expensive Sale Record With $6.6 Million Transaction

by Chris Haney

The holy grail of baseball cards went to auction recently and became the most expensive collectible card ever when it sold for $6.6 million to the highest bidder.

On Monday, a baseball card of Pittsburgh Pirates legend Honus Wagner hit auction and sold for a record-breaking $6.6 million. Wagner played for the Pirates for 18 years of the 21 seasons he was in the MLB from 1897 to 1917. During the early days of the league, he was a bonafide baseball star. Wagner had a .300 batting average or better for 17 consecutive seasons and also won eight batting titles in his career.

The particular Honus Wagner baseball card was released between 1909 and 1911 by the American Tobacco Co. The T206 set of cards have more than 500 professional baseball players amongst the collection. The Pittsburgh shortstop’s card is considered to be the rarest of the collection since only around 50 Honus Wagner cards are known to exist.

His specific T206 baseball card is rare since Wagner demanded that the American Tobacco Co. stop using his likeness. He didn’t like the fact that the company used baseball cards to market their tobacco products to children. On the back of the famous Honus Wagner card is an advertisement for Sweet Caporal Cigarettes.

The bidding for the Honus Wagner card began on July 23 starting at $1 million. According to New Jersey-based Robert Edward Auctions, the price increased to $2.8 million that same day. As the auction came to an end yesterday, its final $6.6 million price shattered the previous $5.2 million sports card record, ESPN reported.

Honus Wagner Baseball Card One of Many Sports Cards to Sell for Millions This Year

The sports card industry has had a resurgence in recent history throughout the last couple of years. Prices continue to skyrocket as the record-setting values for collectible cards keep going higher and higher.

Author Dave Jamieson, who wrote a book on collectible cards, spoke with ESPN on Monday about the Honus Wagner baseball card. Jamieson says the Wagner card has remained the most valuable collectible card because everyone universally accepts that it’s the holy grail.

“If you ask a bunch of modern art curators, ‘What’s the greatest work of modern art?’ they all have different opinions,” Jamieson said. “There’s not much discussion when it comes to baseball cards: It’s the T206 Wagner.”

The card holds its value so well that four Honus Wagner T206 cards now rank on the Top 10 most expensive list. They rank at the No. 7 ($3.75 million), No. 9 ($3.7 million) and No. 10 ($3.1 million) spots on the all-time list.

In January 2021, a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle baseball card sold for a then record-setting $5.2 million. A few months later, a 2003-04 Upper Deck LeBron James Rookie Patch Autograph basketball card tied that record at $5.2 million in April.