Wagner card auction up to $71,700

Published 7:41 pm Monday, October 25, 2010

A famous Honus Wagner baseball card with a brief connection to a Suffolk man is currently at auction with the bid price up to $71,700. Nine days remain in the online auction with a live auction to follow.

A 1909-1911 T206 Sweet Caporal Honus Wagner card, the second-rarest baseball card with about 50 copies known to be in existence, was part of a collection of valuable coins, historic artifacts and 194 baseball cards left in a Pennsylvania home after the owner passed away.

Andrew Giermak/Suffolk News-Herald This 1909-1911 T206 Sweet Caporal Honus Wagner card is being auctioned by Heritage Auction Galleries and has a bid of $71,700 as of Monday afternoon. The online auction ends Nov. 3 and a live auction will be held Nov. 4.

The owner, who lived alone, never married and had no children, left the collection to his sister, a nun in a Baltimore convent, The School Sisters of Notre Dame.

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Keith Horton, a Suffolk banker, became involved in the story because his sister lives at the same convent. Initially, the coins were assumed to be the most valuable items, which caused the nuns to get in touch with a banker.

“Then (my sister) said, ‘Oh by the way, do you know anything about Honus Wagner?’” Horton said.

The only reason the card was singled out was a note left with the Wagner card by the estate owner, reading, “Although damaged, the value of this baseball card should increase exponentially throughout the 21th (sic) century! TVC.”

The card isn’t in mint condition as the borders have been cut off and part of the card’s back is smudged out.

Within the last two years, other Sweet Caporal Wagner cards have sold for as much as $399,500.

As the 100-year-old story goes, Wagner, during the heyday of his legendary career as a Pittsburgh Pirate shortstop, demanded cigarette companies — the Topps or Upper Deck of the day — stop producing cards with his picture.

Wagner played with a wad of tobacco in his cheek. According to his granddaughter in 1992, though, “he just didn’t want children to have to buy tobacco at a young age in order to get his cards.”

The estate and proceeds from auctioning everything in it will go to the The School Sisters of Notre Dame and its missions around the world.

Heritage Auction Galleries is running the auction. The online auction ends Nov. 3 at 10 p.m. with a live auction following on Nov. 4.