1909 Honus Wagner

March 27, 2012 by staff 

1909 Honus Wagner, A suburban St. Louis man who has been in the collectibles business for a quarter of a century, says the 102-year-old baseball card he’s putting up for auction today is about as good as it gets.

Bill Goodwin expects the 1909 Honus Wagner baseball card — one of the most sought-after sports collectibles in the world — to fetch at least $1 million, and perhaps as much as $1.5 million, in the online auction.

“We deal with nice products, vintage stuff, but this is the ultimate,” Goodwin, 64, of Sunset Hills, Mo., said. “I can’t see topping this, ever.”

The card is owned by a Houston businessman who has declined to be identified. The auction continues through April 19.

The 21/2-inch by 11/2-inch baseball card was released in cigarette packs sold by the American Tobacco Co. from 1909 to 1911. Wagner, a shortstop with Pittsburgh much of his illustrious career, was one of the five original Hall of Famer members.

But what makes the card special is that it was pulled from circulation after about 200 were issued. For years, the consensus was that Wagner didn’t want to encourage smoking, especially to kids. Goodwin noted, though, that Wagner was photographed with chewing tobacco in his mouth and did advertisements for tobacco companies.

“I, and some other people, think he just wanted to be paid,” Goodwin said.

Historians think about 60 of the 1909 Wagner cards exist, but many are in poor condition.

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