You couldn’t blame a novice collector for thinking every Honus Wagner card is out of reach. Anytime one of the few dozen T206s sells at auction, the headlines scream as the price soars into six or even seven figures. Yet one of baseball’s most famous faces has plenty of affordable, original cards you can own without seeing a loan officer.
In no particular order, here are ten more affordable Honus Wagner cards to put on your want list if you don’t own them already. None of these are impossible to find pretty much any given week. There are some other, lower priced Wagners out there that just aren’t very attractive. We’ve tried to pick cards that best represent the Flying Dutchman.
Click the title of each to see any that may be available now on eBay:
The Carl Horner portrait Honus made famous when he opted out of the cigarette card giveaway that same season is the same image used for his Colgan’s Chips card. The mint-flavored gum was more wholesome and kid-friendly and the little disc of Wagner is way more wallet-friendly. Many are off-center or creased but for under $1,000 you can often find a respectable-looking version.
The classic image—this time on a Sporting Life premium. The little cards got a pastel touch and it creates a really neat looking card of Wagner during his prime. High-grade examples may be out of reach for many collectors but by being choosy, you can still land a lower grade version that isn’t ugly for around $2,000.
OK, we’re cheating a little here, but the fact is the caramel cards are plentiful enough to keep prices in check and it’s really hard to pick just one. Again, seek out the lowest graded, best looking example for $1,000-$2,000 and you’ll be pretty happy. Of course, if you can afford a better one, go for it.
This isn’t really a ‘card’ but the Sporting News Supplements have been treated that way forever since they’re part of a long-running series. This Wagner came out during the heat of the 1909 pennant race and it’s a great photograph of Honus at the bat. There’s another one featuring Wagner shaking hands with Ty Cobb. Either is great but the single shot of Honus is usually less expensive.
He’s “Hans” Wagner here and it’s a great photo of him following through on a practice swing. The M101-4 is an immensely popular set and while this card is from late in his career, it’s great to have him in it. Prices vary quite a bit but this is one of the best images of Wagner you can own for the money.
Part pennant, part photo card, this unique looking issue was a premium in loaves of bread back in the day. The little set also includes Joe Jackson. There was a small find of these in southern Illinois just a few years ago. Keep these out of the light as they will fade, but love the Wagner for under $1,000.
Part of a tabletop game, the Polo Grounds cards were naturally protected in boxes and typically weren’t played with that much so higher grade examples are easy to find and really not very expensive. You could lump the Tom Barker and National Game Wagners in here too. Offbeat, but great old photos of “Hans”. An EX/MT ‘6’ WG4 is around $500-600 at most. A no-brainer, really, if you just love having original, pre-War cards of iconic players.
The R312 is preferred here although both are great. Dating from his coaching days with the Pirates, the R312 shows Honus coaching Arky Vaughan. The other is a solo shot. Honus always looked like an old soul and even though he’s not really that old yet, he looks ancient on the latter. Not really that easy to find, but ultra-cheap, I suppose because he’s a coach and the size is non-traditional. So what. It’s Honus Freaking Wagner.
Wagner joined a lot of past and present legends on this unique black and white set but the difference was that Honus was still wearing a uniform, a couple of decades after his last game. The 1940 Play Ball set includes a mix of old-timers and current players. It’s a cool profile shot of Honus and you can own a mid-grade example for $100-200.
Interestingly, the man who didn’t want kids to hang around or even worse, buy cigarettes 40 years earlier, is shown taking a big dip of chew on this incredibly awesome card from the latter stage of his life in uniform. He’s “John” here, even though his real name was Johannes Peter Wagner (“Hans” or “Honus” for short). And he’s wearing that late 1940s baby blue Pirates gear. If you can only afford $100 or so, this would be our choice. A Hall of Famer that’s also a conversation piece? It doesn’t get much better.