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MastroNet officials elated about find of T206 Wagner with Piedmont back

Written By T.S. O'Connell, managing editor of Sports Collectors Digest, (October 19, 2001)

Just when it starts to look like attic finds are getting tougher and tougher to find, in the space of a few months a couple of treasure hunts turned up the kind of stuff that every collector dreams about.

Earlier this summer it was an untouched stack of 1957 Topps Basketball cards, more than 1,700 in all, plus a similar number of uncirculated entertainment cards from the 1950s and 1960s.

That would seem like a tough act to follow, but Rob Lifson and Doug Allen of MastroNet, Inc., managed quite nicely by turning up a previously unknown T206 Honus Wagner card.

Now, any T206 Wagner turning up would be news, but this one also boasts having a Piedmont back, making it perhaps the second known such specimen. The only other "verified" example is the T206 Wagner, the Gretzky/Gidwitz one that was sold in 2000 to Brian Seigel for $1.265 million.

In addition, the attic find (which amounted to more than 2,500 cards) also included a letter from legendary hobby figure Charles Bray, apparently offering the card's owner $25 for the Wagner card in question. If that sounds like a lowball offer, it's worth pointing out that the Bray letter is dated April of 1958, when $25 was a good day's pay for a whole bunch of Americans and a nickel would buy you a bottle of Coca-Cola in one of those thick, 7-ounce green bottles.

Anyway, MastroNet officials were summoned to a home outside of Philadelphia after the family had discovered the box of cards, apparently undisturbed for more than 30 years. The most intriguing thing is that the gentleman personally collected these cards directly from tobacco packs," said Lifson of the hoard that included complete or near-complete sets from many different tobacco card series, and many non-sport sets.

"As most tobacco card collectors know, a lmost all of the 50 to 60 known examples of the T206 Honus Wagner have an advertisement for Sweet Caporal Cigarettes on the reverse," Lifson said.

"Finding any Wagner card is great, but few are distinguished in any significant way," he continued. "With the Piedmont back and the Charles Bray letter, it adds a dimension to this card. What that translates to, it's pointless for me to speculate, but it's deserving of a premium."

The plans are for the card to be Included in the November MastroNet, Inc. auction, with a minimum bid calculated at $25,000. Lifson describes the card as in "good" condition, with a few fine creases but none that break the surface of the card. "In our opinion, this card compares very favorably to many, if not most, of the other T206 Wagners. We would estimate this card to reside in approximately the 50th percentile of all T206 Wagners (in reference to condition)."

Even with all of that, the current state of U.S. and global affairs and the precarious U.S. economy makes it tough to try to guess what such a card would bring at auction. "With the current economy, it wouldn't shock me if high end items sold for less than might have been expected," said Lifson. "Things that cost many tens of thousands of dollars are the most susceptible in such times."


RELATED ARTICLES:

Periodical - PSA-8 Wagner sold for $1.27 Million
Gallery - T206 Honus Wagner



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