T206 Honus Wagner baseball card expected to earn $300K

WATCHUNG, N.J. – The catalog for Robert Edward Auctions’ annual spring sports-related and Americana auction began shipping April 16, 2012, with the first copy off the presses presented to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., for their library, as is REA’s time-honored tradition. The remaining 10,000 catalogs will be sent to collectors all over the world who have been anxiously awaiting the baseball collecting world’s most highly anticipated auction.

T206 Honus Wagner  1909-1911 T206 Honus Wagner – Date Stamped “Oct 16, 1909” – The Date of the Final Game of the 1909 World Series (res. $100,000; est. $300,000+). Photo courtesy Robert Edward Auctions

Up for bid are hundreds of items worthy of the most prestigious collections in the world, both public and private. Active bidding runs from April 16 through May 12 via fax, telephone or the Robert Edward Auctions website. Total sales for the event are expected to exceed $5 million.

“We have been assembling material, writing, and researching all year long, hoping to make this a special event for everyone. At the same time, we hope to give collectors and historians valuable reference material,” says REA president Robert Lifson.

REA’s reputation for hosting the baseball collecting world’s most highly-anticipated event is built on 40 years of experience. “We’ve been a magnet for vintage cards, including many incredible new finds. We also have an unusually strong boxing section and have assembled an extremely impressive selection of Americana. We have over 1,500 lots.”

This auction features a particularly extraordinary example of the most valuable card in the world: the T206 Honus Wagner, one of an estimated 50 known to exist, is expected to sell for more than $300,000. (This historic card carries a reserve of $100,000.) The date “Oct 16 1909” is stamped in purple ink on the reverse: the date of the final and deciding game of the 1909 World Series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Tigers.

Another outstanding lot is a mint condition (the finest known example in existence) 1912 Ty Cobb tobacco tin. It has the same rarity as the T206 Ty Cobb card with Ty Cobb Tobacco advertising back (approximately 12 of each are known). Even the original blue tobacco tax stamp paper strip is still attached. It is the only Ty Cobb Tobacco tin on which the original tax stamp strip remains. The tin carries a $40,000 opening bid (reserve).

Ty Cobb tobacco tin Mint condition 1912 Ty Cobb Tobacco Tin (reserve: $40,000).

The “Legendary Card” category holds rarities including a Babe Ruth Rookie card, a T206 Honus Wagner, as well as all the other rarities of the T206 set. The rare T206 “Slow Joe” Doyle, NY Nat’l, one of fewer than 10 examples known to exist, is the famous Joe Pelaez Collection example. One of the greatest treasures of all tobacco cards, the only other example of the rare T206 Doyle that REA has ever offered sold for $329,000 in 2009. The rare T206 Doyle has a reserve of $100,000. Not one but two examples of the 1916 Babe Ruth rookie card are featured, one in Ex-Mt condition and one in Vg-Ex, each with a reserve of $10,000.

“The Babe Ruth rookie is never going out of style, and has been a particularly hot card in the marketplace lately,” notes Lifson. “These are fresh to the collecting world examples.”

Nineteenth-century baseball cards and items of great historical significance have always been a special area of interest for Robert Edward Auctions. This auction has some of the most remarkable items in this important area to ever come to auction. Among them: an extraordinary book owned and signed by Alexander Joy Cartwright Jr., the “Father of Baseball,” in 1839 that may have been his inspiration to form the New York Knickerbockers Base Ball Club and to design the baseball field in the manner that he did. (Cartwright family provenance; Reserve $5,000; the estimate is “open.”). An incredible newly discovered collection of 1860s baseball carte de visites photographs and trade cards is one of the most extraordinary baseball card finds ever for cards dating from the dawn of professional baseball. Included among the eight circa 1870 team cards (many of which were issued by Peck & Snyder Sporting Goods) is the finest example known of the 1868 Brooklyn Atlantics (reserve $5,000) and two 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings team cards (reserve $5,000 each). Also included in the auction are over 400 1886-1890 N172 Goodwin Old Judge baseball cards, one of the largest collections to ever come to auction, including many Hall of Famers and rarities.

Boston Garder Eddie Collins rare prewar baseball card  1912 H813 Boston Garter Eddie Collins ($10,000 reserve).

In addition to the rarities described above, this year’s auction includes a staggering number of incredible prewar baseball cards. Among the many highlights are several remarkable original-owner collections including the Dawley Collection, featuring a complete near-complete set of 1916 M101-4 Herpolsheimer Clothing Company cards (194 of 200) including one of the two Babe Ruth rookie cards in the auction. The Dawley family originally lived in Grand Rapids, Mich., where the company was located, and the grandfather personally got these cards in 1916 directly from the Herpolsheimer Company. They have remained in perfect condition, untouched, as family keepsakes for almost 100 years. Thousands of 1910 era tobacco and candy cards, and 1930s gum cards, representing virtually all important baseball card sets, are featured.

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Autographed memorabilia includes Ruth, Cobb and Gehrig, as well as almost-never-seen extremely rare items signed by early Hall of Famers such as James “Orator” O’Rourke, Cap Anson, Amos Rusie, and Henry Chadwick. Also of special note is an extraordinary 1933 American League All-Star Team-Signed Ball with Ruth, Gehrig and 12 other Hall of Fame players (total 20 signatures), one of the finest in existence with regard to both completeness and condition (reserve $10,000).

Babe Ruth Rookie Card 1916  1916 M101-5 Sporting News #151 Babe Ruth Rookie – PSA EX-MT 6 (reserve $10,000; estimate $50,000+).

Sports other than baseball are also represented by a significant selection of extremely high quality items, including the trunks worn by Muhammad Ali in his epic 1975 “Thrilla in Manilla” win over Joe Frazier. The trunks were saved by Ali’s assistant trainer and friend Drew “Bundini” Brown (reserve $25,000); the “Michigan Farmhouse” example of the “Holy Grail” of football cards: the 1894 Mayo’s Cut Plug Football Dunlop which was miraculously just recently found, beautifully preserved in a scrapbook discovered in a farmhouse being cleaned out. The reserve is only $1,000.

The Americana category includes items signed by virtually every U.S. president. Standout lots include two George Washington and four Abraham Lincoln signed documents. Included is a 1783 George Washington Signed Military-Discharge Document (reserve $2,500; estimate $10,000 and up) and a 1787 George Washington Signed Potomac Navigation Company Document (reserve $1,500; estimate $5,000 and up).

An 1865 Abraham Lincoln signed military appointment carries a reserve of $1,500 and an estimate of $5,000 an up. Al Capone’s 1929 signed official police fingerprint booking card (reserve $10,000) may be the single most desirable Al Capone artifact in existence. Important documents signed with names such as Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein and Marilyn Monroe are also featured in the Americana section.

The REA 2012 spring auction can be viewed online and a free copy of the catalog is  available by visiting the Robert Edwards Auctions website. For further information, contact Robert Edward Auctions, PO Box 7256, Watchung, NJ 07069 or call 908-226-9900.

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