Monday, May 20th, 2019

Honus Wagner T206 Uncut Strip — Would you pay $250K for it?

You may not think a single strip of 100-year old baseball cards is worth a quarter of a million dollars. However,  I guarantee you someone will when the T206 uncut “proof” strip featuring Honus Wager is auctioned by Hunt Auctions later this month.  The current bidding is up over $120K with predictions as high as $200K or $300K.    It had sold previously about 10 years ago for $80K when it was last on the market. 

The T206 set is arguably the most sought after baseball card set in history.  The T206 cards were inserted into cigarette packs between 1909 and 1911 and amongst those distributed were a limited number of the legendary player Honus Wagner.  The Wagner card, by itself, because of its scarcity and mystique, has sold for over $1 million.

Honus Wagner famously had the American Tobacco Company pull his card from circulation  It is not 100% clear what his rationale was.  The most likely scenario is that the “Flying Dutchman”  refused to allow his picture to be used to market tobacco, specifically because he did not want to encourage youngsters to smoke. 

Story of the Uncut Strip

The existence of this uncut strip is far more than an interesting curiosity; it directly relates to the legend of the Honus Wagner card. His refusal to be included in the set was no doubt a gigantic blow to the American Tobacco Company, as Wagner was the biggest star of the day.

The strip, from left to right includes, HoF member Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown, Wagner, Frank Bowerman, HoF member Cy Young, and Johnny Kling. 

This strip of cards actually belonged to Honus Wagner, and was discovered many years ago in the attic of Wagner’s old house, along with various personal effects, including years of his personal correspondence and uniforms. It is almost a certainty that the tobacco company sent this strip to Honus in a last ditch special effort to try to convince him to cooperate with their plans to include him in the T206 set. No other uncut strip of T206’s has ever surfaced, let alone in the hands of a ballplayer of the day.


The T206 Collection Book

The T206 card set  is the subject of a stunningly beautiful and informative new book, called The T206 Collection, The Players and Their Stories by Tom and Ellen Zappala and Lou Blasi. 

The book has taken the card series and put together thematic chapters linking together similar cards.  For instance, there are separate chapters on the Hall of Famers, Overlooked by Cooperstown, The Bad Boys of Baseball, The Minor Leaguers and the Uncommons.   The book’s graphics are beautifully laid out and contain exhaustively-researched stories about many of the players in the set.

Click for full Books on Baseball Review…

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