LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A rare baseball card, issued by the American Tobacco Company in 1909, has been bought for a record $2.8 million a little more than six months after it was sold for a then-record $2.35 million.
The renowned T206 Honus Wagner, dubbed the “Mona Lisa” of baseball cards and previously owned by ice hockey great Wayne Gretzky, was sold to an anonymous private collector last week.
“The T206 Honus Wagner card is an icon, not only in the field of baseball card collecting but in the larger field of Americana,” David Kohler, president and chief executive of SCP Auctions who brokered the sale, said in a statement on Thursday.
“We are privileged to have been involved in the sale of this card, not once but twice.”
SCP Auctions handled the previous sale to a California private collector in February this year and took a minority ownership position in the card.
The T206 Honus Wagner Card was created and released by the American Tobacco Company as part of a series of more than 500 different baseball player cards.
Although T206 tobacco cards are among the most prized by collectors, it is believed that no more than around 70 Wagner cards still exist.
Unlike the card sold last week which has been encased in a protective Lucite sheeting for decades, many of those owned by other collectors are of poor quality.
“This example, graded PSA 8 NM-MT, is universally recognized as the ultimate baseball card treasure,” SCP Auctions managing director Dan Imler said.
“We are proud to have had a hand in placing it in a good new home.”
Johannes Peter “Honus” Wagner, nicknamed “The Flying Dutchman”, was inducted as one of the first five members of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.
A non-smoker who began his career with the Louisville Colonels in 1897, he is widely regarded as the second best player of the dead-ball era, behind Ty Cobb, and possibly the greatest shortstop in baseball history.
Despite being infamously bow-legged, prompting one sportswriter to describe his running as “resembling the gambols of a caracoling elephant”, Wagner led the National League in batting average eight times, peaking at .381 in 1900.
He retired in 1917 with a career batting average of .327 and a lifetime total of 640 doubles, 722 stolen bases and 3,415 hits.