T206 Honus Wagner graded EX-5 to auction in New Jersey

The T206 Honus Wagner is the most famous of all baseball cards, and now a New Jersey auction house has consigned a high-graded example to its latest sale.

T206 Honus Wagner
Despite previously advertising gunpowder, Wagner did not want his face to appear on a packet of cigarettes

Going under the hammer in February, the EX-5 graded card has not yet been given an estimate. A lower VG-3 graded Honus Wagner sold for $1.2m at an online auction in April.

The best condition example - known as the Gretzky T206 Honus Wagner - is graded eight out of 10 and was last sold for $2.8m in 2008, the highest price ever paid for a baseball card at auction. However, the card is now known to have been trimmed to improve its appearance, following a federal indictment against Mastro Auctions founder, Bill Mastro.

According to auctioneer and baseball card expert Bill Goodwin, there are only 43 T206 Honus Wagner cards that have been graded by professional grading services, with the present example one of just five of the same grading or higher.

The card's rarity stems from the star's refusal to have his picture featured on the card. The American Tobacco Company had already issued around 200 cards with Wagner's portrait printed on them before they were threatened with legal action.

A unique example of the card, graded VG-2 but featuring a previously unknown datestamp, sold for $550,000 in May 2012.

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