Record price: Honus Wagner T206 baseball card sells for $7.25M

The Holy Grail of sports trading cards set another record.

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A Honus Wagner T206 baseball card from 1909-11 sold for a mind-boggling $7.25 million on Wednesday in a private sale brokered by Goldin Auctions, the New Jersey-based auction house announced.

The card, which has an advertisement for Sweet Caporal cigarettes on the back, was graded SGC 2 (out of a possible 10), or good, by Sportscard Guaranty Corp., a Florida-based card and memorabilia grading service.

The price tops the $6.606 million for a different T206 card of the Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer that was sold nearly a year ago through Robert Edward Auctions. That card was graded an SGC3, Sports Collectors Daily reported.

“I’ve been in this business for a very long time and seen a lot of incredible trading cards and pieces of memorabilia,” Goldin founder and executive chairman Ken Goldin said in a statement. “But there is nothing on earth like a T206 card.

“There’s a reason why no Wagner card has ever sold for less than it was previously purchased for -- the card is art, it’s history, it’s folklore. The T206 is one of the reasons I do what I do and why serious collectors around the world love this hobby so much. To be a part of history and facilitate this record-breaking sale is an honor.”

The Wagner card had originally been authenticated and graded by Professional Sports Authenticator and sold for $294,338 through Memory Lane in 2006, according to Sports Collectors Daily. The owner then had the card regarded by SGC in 2007, the collectibles site reported.

The T206 Honus Wagner and the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle, one of which sold last year for $5.2 million, remain the two top cards in the collectibles hobby, according to The Athletic. The COVID-19 pandemic has fueled the explosion in the sports collectibles business, as investors view cards like Wagner and Mantle as alternative assets, the magazine reported.

A T206 Wagner sold for $3.75 million in May 2021 before the $6.606 million bid three months later.

The latest record price is expected to fall later this month, when a 1952 Topps Mantle card graded 9.5 by SGC could top $10 million when bidding ends on Aug. 27 in a sale conducted by Heritage Auctions. According to Sports Collectors Daily last week, bidding on the 1952 Mantle had already passed $6.7 million with a buyer’s premium factored into the sale. This week, the bidding has driven the price up to $7.08 million including the buyer’s premium, ESPN reported.