Remember the much-maligned card two Cincinnati area men tried to sell as a real T206 Honus Wagner several years ago?
John Cobb and Ray Edwards claimed they bought the soiled image in the 1980s for $1,800. Believing it was not only real but rare because it contained a Piedmont ad on the back rather than the more common Sweet Caporal, they went public in 2006. They were met with a firestorm of criticism from veteran collectors who are certain the card was never inside a pack of cigarettes in 1909 and feared someone would take an expensive, unwise chance.
Cobb and Edwards eventually had the card examined by a company that specializes in dating paper with results that didn't discourage them. However, the men wouldn’t allow the card to be reviewed for professional authentication and grading by hobby giants PSA, SGC or Beckett, saying they didn’t want to allow it to leave their sight, even for a short time.
They tried selling it on eBay but the card was pulled before the auction ended. An attempt to sell the card at a small auction house failed more than six years ago and veteran collectors continued to dismiss it as missing the qualities of a real Wagner.
Along the way, the card and its story drew attention from HBO, ESPN and other media outlets but the story faded.
Eventually, the two convinced a company called ACA Grading to slab it but they haven’t found anyone willing to pay what a real Wagner would go for. Another auction last fall came and went without a buyer. Major sports memorabilia auction houses won’t touch it.
Now, the card is back in the spotlight—or will be in a couple of months.
This time it’s starring in a TV show that may once and for all, determine exactly what it is. At least that’s the promise behind “Treasure Detectives”, a new CNBC primetime reality series that will feature the card in one of its first episodes in March.
According to CNBC, each one-hour show of Treasure Detectives will track two cases of collectibles, artwork and antiquities to determine whether they’re real or just really good fakes. The Cobb-Edwards card takes center stage in early promotion.
CNBC hasn’t done a lot of publicity for the show yet, but in a short trailer, they show Curtis Dowling, “a world-renowned fakes and forgeries detective”, putting the card through a CT scan to determine whether, as many suspect, the back of the card is real but the front is a modern reproduction.
Take a look:
According to the network:
Dowling and his hand-picked team of investigators dig into the history and the science of potentially counterfeit items on behalf of real collectors who may have been scammed. They trace not just where an item came from, but how it was made -- and in many cases, how it was faked. Every investigation turns up astounding information, and may even force history to be re-written.
In the course of each investigation, Dowling and his team will pull back the curtain on forgers, allowing viewers to take away real information. By revealing the methods that forgers use to create convincing fakes, he will demonstrate how to avoid similar scams.
The show is set to debut March 5.