Highest-known sale of any trading card brings $7.25 million

Goldin Auctions
Goldin Auctions(Goldin Auctions)
Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 5:35 PM EDT
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RUNNEMEDE, Nj. (WDBJ) - The storied treasure of the 1909 T-206 Honus Wagner hobby grail card has staked its claim yet again in the record book with a whopping $7.25 million, good enough for the highest-known sale of any type of trading card throughout history.

Sold by collectible auctioneer powerhouse, Goldin Auctions, the Wagner’s steep price tag comes with an unconfirmed aura around its story, adding to the mystique and chase for deep pocket hobby and history enthusiasts everywhere.

As the story goes, Wagner, one of baseball’s all-time greats, was against his image appearing alongside tobacco products and wanted to avoid looking like he was endorsing its use to children. The cards were said to be pulled from print, leaving just less than 50 authentic copies that are known to exist.

What makes this historic sale even more remarkable is the fact that a T-206 Wagner in a full grade higher sold almost exactly a year earlier for $6.606 million by Robert Edward Auctions.

You read that right. One year later, a full grade lower, $644,000 more.

The trading card hobby is also a business. Do not let anyone try to tell you any different. In the last few years, it has continued to grow into an asset class that is comparable to fine art, etc. with more than just the occasional mega sale making the rounds in the news.

While the $7.25 Wagner sale is also an item in any condition that does not surface often and leads to bidders paying any amount just to obtain a copy, the number one spot will almost certainly last only a handful of weeks at the hands of an iconic #7.

If there was to be a challenger to the 1909 T-206 Honus Wagner in terms of the hobby’s holy grail, you will not have to look hard to find a strong, dedicated group that would rather have the electric blue background depicted being one of the game’s legends looking off into the sky in his second-year cardboard treasure.

Heritage Auctions
Heritage Auctions(Heritage Auctions)

Considered the “finest-known example” of the card based on eye appeal and the absence of a 9.5 grade by the company PSA who has issued 10 grades to other 1952′s, the Mick’s image also comes with a legend of a story in its own right.

Then CEO and company founder, Sy Berger, personally drove hundreds of unsold cases from the issue (not just Mantles) from his Brooklyn warehouse and dumped them in the Atlantic Ocean after trying unsuccessfully to sell them for years, leading to valuable space being taken up in his facility.

The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle #311 SGC 9.5 (Mint +) is expected to exceed $10 million at auction when the bell rings at the end of the month, and is currently up for sale on the Heritage Auctions website.

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