For baseball fans, the T206 Honus Wagner is the stuff of legend. Known as the most famous baseball card in the world, the T206 depicts Johannes Peter “Honus” Wagner nicknamed, widely considered one of the best baseball players of all time. This week the Audemars Piguet flagship in New York welcomed “The Jumbo Wagner”, one of the highest graded editions of the T206 card in advance of an auction taking place on April 5.
When the Goldin Auctions house decided to put the card under the gavel, they were faced with the predicament of where to display the most valuable baseball card of all time. Ken Goldin, the founder of Goldin Auctions, told me; “It was interesting because we were looking for a place to display this ultra high-end collectible, which is expected to go for well over $3,000,000. My VP of Marketing knows the CEO of Audemars Piguet, so we called him up, and he said, “$3,000,000 baseball card? Sure! Sounds exactly like our clientele!”" Although displaying the card in public is always a risk, Goldin told me that the Audemars Piguet boutique was the perfect destination, combining both security and a luxury clientele.
So what exactly makes this card so valuable? The card, graded EX 5 (MC) by PSA, is one of just a handful of T206 Honus Wagner cards ever produced. In 1909, the American Tobacco Company began producing the trading card featuring the Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop. However, when Wagner found out that the card featured an advertisement for cigarettes on the back, he demanded the company stop production, not wanting to encourage his young fans to smoke. According to Goldin, “[the company] thought they destroyed them all, but a few dozen got out of the factory. That’s why it’s so valuable – there are 100,000 Ty Cobb cards, and a 100,000 Walter Johnson cards, but only about 50 [authenticated] Honus Wagner cards.”
The auction is now officially live, and Goldin told me that while the card started out at $500,000, the current bid is already about $1,200,000, with two weeks still to go.
The Audemars Piguet Flagship Boutique is located at 65 East 57th Street in New York. The boutique is open on Monday-Saturday from 10 am-6 pm. Collectors can view the card from March 20-28, during store hours, or contact Goldin Auctions to arrange a private viewing.