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T206 Piedmont Wagner sold for $86,730

MastroNet Inc. Sports Memorabilia Auction, (November 16, 2001)

T206 Honus Wagner with Piedmont Back Plus Related Letter (Lot #305) sold for $86,730 in MastroNet Sports Memorabilia Auction. The following is the auction description and the minimum bid was $25,000.

Exceptional eye appeal. Very sharp clean image, with perfect registration. There are a few fine creases, but none break the surface of the card. What appears to be a light soiling on the obverse, upon very close examination, is actually an extremely light "shadow" of the image of another T206 card (this is not uncommon with T206s, and usually results from cards being put in stacks before an ink process has fully dried). The corners are worn and well rounded. The "Piedmont 150 Subjects" reverse exhibits light overall general wear but is reasonably clean and problem free. Upon first glance there does not appear to be anything unusual about the cut of the card, but upon closer examination it is clear that the card has an unusual and slightly irregular wave to the cut, most notably on the left and lower borders. This is especially fascinating as this is the only card in the entire original collection of 500+ T206? which has a slightly irregular cut. The provenance of this card, examination of the collection from which it originates, and examination of the card itself allow us to know with virtual certainty that this card was issued and packaged in exactly this form in a pack of Piedmont Cigarettes in 1909. This is an exceptional and unique example of the legendary T206 Honus Wagner, and this offering may represent the only opportunity to ever acquire a T206 Wagner with a Piedmont back (without spending the millions it would cost to purchase the "Gretzky Wagner" if it became available). Having handled over half of all known examples of T206 Wagners, and having seen many of those we have not handled, there is no question that this example compares very favorably to many (if not most) other T206 Honus Wagners. We would estimate this card to reside in approximately the 50th percentile of all T206 Honus Wagners with reference to condition. Ensuring that good condition over time, one must use the proper cleaning service and practices when taking care of such a rare and old baseball card such as this. Good condition.

When our representative personally picked up this Wagner (and the balance of the collection), mention was made by family members of a letter from a dealer to the consignor's father dating from the 1950's which was found with the collection in which the dealer was offering to buy the Wagner card. This sounded fascinating, but unfortunately the family did not think this letter was significant and did not know where they put it. Our guess and hope was that perhaps the letter was from Charles Bray, the first full time baseball card dealer. Bray ran the first auction devoted to card collecting in the world. Anyone who was serious about collecting older cards from the 1930's well into the 1960's bought and sold card through Bray's "Card Collectors Bulletin". Aside from Bray, there really weren't many dealers in rare vintage cards in the 1950's. Our excitement about the letter resulted in a frantic and thorough search - and the letter was finally found! It was, indeed, from the legendary Charles Bray, and included with the letter was the original envelope (postmarked April 17, 1958) as well as advertising flyers which Bray sent for the American Card Catalog (to which Bray was a major contributor) and The Card Collectors Bulletin.

The letter is dated "April 17" and reads as follows:
"I have your letter regarding your collection of cards. The Hans Wagner card Pittsburg Pirates National is worth $25 in good clean undamaged condition. In the same series (Piedmont) there is also a Wagner Boston American. This card is not Hans Wagner of the National League. The two players are sometimes confused. I would also pay $10 for Plank Phila Athletics. The rest of the cards are common. I will be glad to make an offer for the lot if you will send them for examination. Sincerely, Charles Bray".

There are some small areas of the paper loss to the envelope and the flyers (apparently the result of long ago insect damage), but the letter has only a small tear in the upper left corner (most likely from when opened). The letter, envelope and flyrs are included in this lot with the Wagner. To most hobby scholars this letter adds an additional unique dimension to this already very significant Wagner, and contributes to making this card stand out all the more from the pack as one of the most significant and noteworthy of all T206 Wagners.


Periodical - MastroNet officials elated about find of T206 Wagner with Piedmont back
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Gallery - T206 Honus Wagner

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