Nuns sell rare Honus Wagner baseball card for $262,900 in sports auction

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DALLAS — The New York Yankees home jersey worn by Hall of Fame first baseman Lou Gehrig during his first MVP season sold for $717,000 as part of Heritage Auctions’ Signature Sports Collectibles Auction, Nov. 4-5, in Dallas, establishing the highest price ever paid at auction for New York Yankees pinstripes. The auction totaled just more than $5.2 million. All prices include 19.5 percent buyer’s premium.

“We were very pleased, but not surprised, by the impressive result,” said Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions at Heritage. “It’s unquestionably one of the most important jerseys in private hands, and the Heritage track record for posting record prices for elite material is well established.”

Though the Iron Horse provided the highest single lot tally for the two-day event, the second and third most valuable pieces in the auction were the ones that had made international news prior to, as well as after, the auction.

The first gold medal from the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” victory of the U.S. Olympic hockey team ever to surface at public auction more than tripled its original auction estimate with a price of $310,700.

Honus Wagner baseball card

The most pre-auction press was dedicated to the touching story of a Baltimore-area convent that inherited a genuine T206 Honus Wagner card and consigned it to Heritage to fund charitable endeavors. After the enormous press resulted in more than 40,000 page views of the rare card’s auction listing, it realized a final price of $262,900, unquestionably tens of thousands of dollars more than its actual value, considering the card’s poor condition. 
“The winning bidder is a card shop owner,” Ivy said. “He was touched by the nuns’ story and had been seeking a copy of this card for a long time, so he was happy to bring a bit of philanthropy to his hobby.” Heritage donated its standard 15 percent seller’s commission to the cause, as well.

Other six-figure results from the auction included a $119,500 price tag for artist LeRoy Neiman’s noted 1962 portrait of Mickey Mantle and $107,550 for the earliest-known bat used by the great Babe Ruth.

Another noteworthy lot was a group of a dozen 1874 Philadelphia Athletics original team portraits with, notably, Cap Anson and Al Reach featured, which sold for $53,775. One of the most important photographic finds in the history of the hobby, these 12 individual portrait photographs take collectors back to the infancy of the professional game with a study of the National Association’s Philadelphia Athletics, winners of professional baseball’s first championship in 1871. Heritage’s ability to properly identify the players was greatly aided by the discovery of a page from the July 25, 1874, issue of Harper’s Weekly, which provides woodcut images “From Photographs by Suddards & Fennemore, Philadelphia.”

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Video: A 30-second photo montage of Honus Wagner as shown in period photographs


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