Less than 50 years after it was released in packs of cigarettes, the T206 Honus Wagner card was already an enigma.
Now, a re-discovered letter from one 1950s collector to another is revealing that fake Wagner cards were in existence even then.
Robert Edward Auctions revealed that a letter written by collecting pioneer Charles Bray to fellow hobbyist Ted Colzaretti reveals a re-backed T206 Wagner card that had popped up in the Philadelphia area.
The motivation then wasn’t likely to dupe an unsuspecting person into paying a large sum of money for it, but rather the creation of a card meant to fill an obvious void. T206 Wagners just weren’t around, so one collector may have taken an ordinary Sweet Caporal T206 back and pasted the face of an E95 Wagner on it to create a Wagner tobacco card.
In the 1970s, such a card was discovered by a group of collectors. The card generated quite a buzz as folks tried to figure out if it was a new Wagner variation or something else. The card’s owners decided to soak the card in water, and in minutes it came apart. Could it be that was the card referred to in the letter?
REA’s blog shows off the letter, which also details how few T206 Wagners were known among collectors of the day.