Convent sells Wagner card for $262,900

Published 8:49 pm Saturday, November 6, 2010

The 1909-1911 T206 Sweet Caporal Honus Wagner card with a brief connection to Suffolk’s Keith Horton sold via auction for $262,900 on Thursday.

The card is the second-rarest baseball card, with about 50 copies known to be in existence. It was part of a collection of valuable coins, historic artifacts and 194 baseball cards left in a Pennsylvania home after the estate’s owner passed away.

Rare card: The 1909-1911 T206 Sweet Caporal Honus Wagner card is the second-rarest baseball card with about 50 copies known to be in existence. It sold at auction for $262,900.

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

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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, hence getting 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.”

Within the last two years, other Sweet Caporal Wagner cards have sold for as much as $399,500. This card wasn’t in mint condition, with the borders cut off and a smudged-out white spot on its back.

The rarest card is also of Honus Wagner, but a 1909-1911 Piedmont Cigarette Wagner. Ken Kendrick, owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, bought one for $2.8 million in 2007.

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.

The rest of the card collection is being auctioned by Heritage Auction Galleries in an auction ending Sunday night.