Why You Won’t Ever Get a T206 Honus Wagner for Under $1 Million Ever Again

There is a good rule of thumb among the ultra-high-end sports cards and collectibles: Nobody ever loses money when they buy and sell a T206 Honus Wagner card. The T206 Honus Wagner is the true Grail card when it comes to vintage baseball cards. And now it seems safer and safer to assume that any T206 Honus Wagner card in any graded condition will sell for more than $1 million.

Collectors Dashboard is not in the business of predicting future prices in collectibles. History has been filled with its share of ups and downs and booms and busts. That said, a freshly ended T206 Honus Wagner card just sold through SCP Auctions for more than $1.1 million. (Image by SCP Auctions)

T206 Honus Wagner "Authentic"

This fresh sale is not alone in a comparison of “floor prices” in $1 million card sales. Another recent sale in 2021 for another weak grade example now has established that the Honus Wagner floor may well be no less than $1 million. Only time will tell if that holds true, and anyone who thinks that is a guarantee probably has never bought and sold a stock at a loss.

The truth is that the T206 Honus Wagner cards only seem to go up in price over time. Does that mean that every seller is happy with their sale price? Maybe, and maybe not. Collectors Dashboard evaluates high-end collectibles as an alternative asset class. If a card costs more than $1 million, this was definitely bought with the same funds that would have otherwise seen $1 million worth of stock, bonds, crypto or real estate.

SCP Auctions just sold a PSA “Authentic” graded T206 Honus Wagner for a final price of $1,102,806.00 after 12 bids. The starting price was $200,000 and the original estimate was higher than the sale price.

Before thinking of this as a let-down despite a high sale price, this needs to be kept in context and compared to other card sales of the weak grades in the T206 Wagner cards. Many collectors on Twitter and message boards value this restored Wagner example in a very different light than the other population of Wagner cards. Some collectors wonder why PSA doesn’t have it classified in a completely different grading system. The card is still trimmed, but it has been visually restored to have a much better image than it had before it was restored. The pre-restoration condition was bad enough that it may be a minor miracle that the card even managed to survive a century or so at all without some technological assistance.

Another example of a very weak condition T206 Honus Wagner card sold through the fractional ownership platform Rally Rd. initially for $520,000.00. That was an astronomical price at the time and many collectors panned the valuation. This trim job and wrinkling also has paper loss on the back, and the same exact card had previously sold in 2010 for $220,000. (Image below by Rally Rd.)

T206 Honus Wagner Rally Rd.

Rally Rd. had noted at the time of its IPO that the most recent sale of a similarly graded T206 Honus had been for $540,000 in September of 2019. Zoom forward to this day and Rally Rd. has an asset value posted of $1.55 million after it had a trading window open up with sales per share that valued the card at about $1 million.

The reality is that a fractional card value will likely trade at a premium to a card that is bought by one individual. After all, there has to be a premium for making this available for a buyer to own a share rather than one person writing a check for $1 million or more.

And back to the SCP Auctions sale, SCP refers to this card as a treasure. It should go without saying that cards over $1 million are a treasure, and you don’t have to worry

The basis for now expecting any T206 Honus Wagner card to sell for a floor of $1 million is that two other weak grade sales went off for $2+ million in May of 2021.

According to SCP Auctions:

“The exact number of T206 Wagner’s in the hobby today is not known, but the common estimate is around 60. Besides the PSA NM-MT 8 (in)famous “Gretzky Wagner,” most of the surviving examples are in poor to good condition, with substantial creasing or other physical imperfections. This example, too, once suffered from a surface crease which detracted from the beauty of the card. Because the hand-cut white border already present on the card precluded it from receiving any grade other than “Authentic,” its owner made the decision to have the card professionally restored to improve the card’s eye appeal. The result is stunning. Without the previous crease, the Wagner portrait once again becomes the star. A SGC Authentic example that had the back practically falling apart fetched $2.5 million on May 1, 2021 so we anticipate a seven-figure result on the offered specimen.”

So is there a floor of $1 million for a T206 Honus Wagner? Time will tell, but that seems more and more likely if current vintage prices stay remotely close to where they have been.

Categories: Baseball, Sports

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