If you ever drive through Carnegie (as I happened to be doing the other day), you'll see a very large blowup of the baseball card pictured above. It's the most valuable card of all-time, it usually makes news when one is sold, and naturally, it depicts a Pirate.
The elusive "T-206" Honus Wagner card's origins of scarcity have always been controversial. The most common theory is that is that Wagner rejected a deal with the producer of the cards (the American Tobacco Company) because he did not want young baseball fans to purchase the tobacco packs for his baseball card.
Fast-forward to 1991, when one of the cards made national news selling to Wayne Gretzky and then-Kings owner Bruce McNall for the staggering sum of $455,000. Gretzky eventually re-sold the card for $500,000 for a Wal-Mart promotion, which was won by a Florida postal worker who got $640,000 at auction for the very same card. Since that sale, the card has changed hands three more times, with the most recent realized price a whopping $2.8 million in 2007.
Today's story I just stumbled upon will only add to the storied history of the T-206 Wagners: an order of nuns in Baltimore received one of these via a donation earlier this year, and you guessed it, will auction the card off to the highest bidder:
The brother of a nun who died in 1999 left all his possessions to the order when he died earlier this year. The man's lawyer told Muller he had a Honus Wagner card in a safe-deposit box.
When they opened the box, they found the card, with a typewritten note: "Although damaged, the value of this baseball card should increase exponentially throughout the 21st century!"
One of only about 60 in existence, this particular Wagner is estimated in the $150-$200K ballpark due to condition. Still, that's not a bad return on an investment of $0 for the nuns. At the moment, the bidding is up to $65,000 at Heritage Auctions, but expect it to go for several times that amount when the hammer finally falls. The proceeds from the card's sale will go to the School Sisters of Notre Dame, which has ministries in 35 countries around the world.