Holy Grail of Baseball Cards: The T-206 Honus Wagner

By Ben • amazing tales, history, sports • 20 Jun 2013


"Starting from January 1909, the [American Tabacco Company] sought authorization from baseball players for inclusion in the T206 [baseball card] series, which would feature 524 major league players, 76 of whom would later be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. [...] Unsurprisingly, the ATC asked for Wagner's permission to have his picture on a baseball card. [...] Wagner did not give his consent to appear on the baseball card. [...] Wagner wrote that he 'did not care to have his picture in a package of cigarettes.' He threatened to seek legal action against ATC if they went ahead and created his baseball card."

Wagner, who is considered perhaps the greatest player of his era, created an extremely rare, extremely desirable card. As described at Grantland:

"Bought and sold many times over, the copy once owned by Wayne Gretzky has now appreciated to nearly $3 million. But, this gem may have been doctored. From mere speculation, the accusations of alteration have risen all the way to federal indictments. But this is still 'just' a baseball card. It is a small square in the tapestry of our national pastime. And, as the art world readily illustrates, it may be that no matter what was done or not done to 'The Card,' its value really does lie in the eye of the beholder."

by Grantland

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