HOW MANY HONUS WAGNER BASEBALL CARDS EXIST

The Honus Wagner baseball card is one of the most rare, valuable, and sought after collectible cards in existence. Produced around 1909-1911 by the American Tobacco Company as part of its famous T206 trading card series, estimates indicate there are between 50-75 examples of the Honus Wagner card that are known to exist today. The true number is impossible to know for certain.

The T206 set featured active major league players of the time and was included as an incentive in rolls of cigarettes. It’s believed that Honus Wagner, a legendary shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates who is widely considered one of the best players ever, asked the American Tobacco Company to stop producing his card as he did not want to promote the use of tobacco, which was against his Mennonite faith. As a result, far fewer examples of his card were released compared to others in the set.

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Over the decades, a small number of Honus Wagner T206 cards have surfaced at a time. Most were in poor condition since they spent years being handed out, traded, stored in attics/basements subject to the elements before the advent of modern collecting. In the 1970s, serious collecting of pre-war baseball cards began and the extreme rarity of the Honus Wagner was discovered. The scarce supply and huge demand saw values rise rapidly.

In the 1980s, estimates put the number surviving at around 60. A lack of comprehensive population census data means it’s impossible to know for certain. Since then, a small number of new discoveries are made about once per decade, mostly in ungraded poor-fair condition, thanks to estate sales or new collections being examined after sitting dormant for decades. Graded high-quality examples remain extraordinarily rare.

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In 1991, a copy graded Poor-1 sold for a then-record $110,000. A spike in vintage sports memorabilia prices in the 1990s saw values explode. In 2000, one of the higher graded examples, a PSA NM-MT 8, fetched $640,000 at auction. The following year, a PSA 8.5 sold for $1.27 million.

By 2010, population reports pegged the number known at around 75 total. That number assumed all are accounted for, which is impossible to confirm. Many could still remain to be discovered in attics, basements or overseas. In 2021, one of the highest graded known examples, a PSA GEM MT 10, became the most valuable baseball card ever sold when it fetched $6.6 million at auction.

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Finds of new NM/MT examples averaging just 1 per decade, and the continual escalation in values, it remains anyone’s guess how many truly survive today across all conditions in private collections worldwide. The scarcity and renown of the Honus Wagner T206 make it the most iconic and legendary collectible card ever produced, with estimated surviving populations of only 50-75 cards despite over a century passing since production. Continued new discoveries are anticipated, but high quality GEM examples will likely remain astonishingly rare.

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