Honus Wagner baseball card sells for record $2.3 million
By By ANDREW GLAZER, Associated Press Writer
February 27, 2007
A 1909 Honus Wagner baseball card, which sold in 2000 for more than US$1 million, is seen on display at a sports memorabilia show at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, N.J., in this file photo from July 2003. The "Holy Grail of baseball cards," the famous 1909 Honus Wagner tobacco card once owned by hockey great Wayne Gretzky, has sold for a record-setting US$2,350,000, the seller of the card Brian Seigel said. The anonymous buyer has only been identified as a Southern California collector.
LOS ANGELES (AP) --
The "Holy Grail of baseball cards," the
famous 1909 Honus Wagner tobacco card once owned by
hockey great Wayne Gretzky, has sold for a record-setting
$2.35 million, the seller of the card said Monday.
The buyer has only been identified as a Southern California
collector. SCP Auctions Inc., a company that holds
sports memorabilia auctions, said it bought a small
share of the card. It is scheduled to be shown at
a news conference at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday.
There are about 60 of the tobacco cards in existence
featuring the Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop, one of
the first five players to be inducted in Baseball's
Hall of Fame.
The seller, Brian Seigel, in 2000 paid a then-record
$1,265,000 for the prize card, which is in much better
shape than the others.
"This particular one was preserved in spectacular
condition," said Joe Orlando, president of Professional
Sports Authenticator of Newport Beach -- the company
that certified the authenticity of the card. "It's
the Holy Grail of baseball cards."
Still, the Wagner cards are so rare that even tattered
ones will sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars,
The others "you could stick in middle of the
street and let cars drive over it through the day,
take it in your hand and crumple it up, and it still
would be a $100,000 card," said Seigel, CEO of
Emerald Capital LLC, an asset management company,
who lives in Las Vegas.
Gretzky and Bruce McNall, former owner of the Los
Angeles Kings, bought the card for $451,000 in 1991.
During his ownership of the card, Seigel displayed
it at several sports collectible shows, showed it
at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum
and at brought it to opening bell ceremonies for the
NASDAQ stock exchange in New York.
"The Wagner card gave me a tremendous amount
of pride, excitement and pleasure," he said.
"I hope the new owner will have the same satisfaction
I enjoyed over the years."
The tobacco cards used to be included in packs of
cigarettes. Collectors believe Wagner's cards are
rare because he stopped allowing the American Tobacco
Co. to use his image, fearing it would encourage children
Nicknamed the "Flying Dutchman," Wagner
was the National League batting champion in eight
of his 21 seasons and finished his career with a lifetime
.329 average. He retired in 1917 with more hits, runs,
RBIs, doubles, triples steals than any National League