It was once a part of perhaps the best collection of baseball memorabilia ever assembled. A five-card proof strip of T206 cards--one that included a Honus Wagner--is back in the public eye and less than two months from another visit to the auction block.
The strip once belonged to Barry Halper, the late and legendary collector, and was first sold publicly in 1999 when Halper let go of much of his famous stash. The strip, it was said, was found along with other momentos, in Wagner's former Pittsburgh home when it was sold in the 1970s.
Heavily creased, but perhaps a part of the most well-known baseball card story ever, the card has since been auctioned and sold several times.
It was on display briefly this week inside Hunt Auctions' memorabilia shop inside Citizen's Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia. The brief stop won't be its only showcase in 2010. The blank-backed proof, which also features Hall of Famers Cy Young and Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown as well as Frank Bowerman and Johnny Kling, will be sold at this summer's MLB All-Star Fan Fest Auction.
The strip was originally purchased by dealer Steve Verkman, who sold it for a profit to the Shop at Home TV network. Later, it was offered by Mastro Auctions and Leland's. The selling price of the strip has wavered between $50,000 and $100,000 although it did not sell when it was presented in 2007.
Theories have been brought forth that the strip was given to Wagner as the American Tobacco Company attempted to obtain his permission to distribute the card as part of its 500+ card set, now known as T206. Wagner, however, didn't go along with the plan and ATC stopped putting Wagner into its cigarette packs shortly after the promotion began in 1909.
Less then 100 Wagner cards are believed to exist today.