Trivia

Hard

Who Graces The Most Valuable Baseball Card In The World?

Ty Cobb
Babe Ruth
Honus Wagner
Joe Jackson
An example of the 1909 T206 Honus Wagner baseball card.
American Tobacco Company/British American Tobacco

Answer: Honus Wagner

When it comes to collectables, there are rare items and then there are rare items—unique items so scarce as to be almost unicorn-like in their rarity. In the world of baseball card collecting, the most valuable of these unicorn-like collectables is the 1909 T206 Honus Wagner baseball card.

Several things conspired together to make this card the rarest card in the world. First, it’s from the early era of baseball cards—age alone can help account for the rarity. Second, Honus Wagner is widely considered to be one of the greatest baseball players that ever lived, and anything related to his career is highly collectable. Finally (and most importantly), the baseball cards of the time were distributed as promotional items with packs of cigarettes. Honus Wagner objected to the arrangement as he believed it would encourage children interested in baseball to also become interested in cigarettes. He insisted that they recall the packs with his card in them and cease distributing his cards in the future.

As a result, less than 60 authenticated 1909 T206 Honus Wagner cards are known to exist, and mint condition examples of the card have sold for as high as 3.12 million dollars—even cards rated a mere 2 out of 10 on the Professional Sports Authenticator’s scale have still fetched $75,000 at auction.

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