The T206 Honus Wagner card grabbed most of the attention for its price, but there was a lot of big spending at the live auction in Chicago.
Arkansas collector John Rogers has apparently never been afraid to spend money on things he wants.
Rogers, who purchased the archives of former LIFE magazine photographer Arthur Rickerby in 2006, made a splash with his record-setting purchase of the PSA 5 T206 Honus Wagner card on Friday night for $1.62 million. It is believed to be the highest price ever paid at public auction for one baseball card. The price included a 20% buyer’s premium added by Mastro Auctions, which conducted the sale at the ESPN Zone in Chicago.
“I call this the holy grail of baseball cards,” Rogers told the Associated Press by phone after winning the card at Mastro’s 2nd annual Summer Sports Memorabilia Live Auction. “I’ve looked at a number of other specimens, sat in a few other Wagner auctions. But this is the one that makes collecting worthwhile.”
Rogers said he has collected baseball cards and sports memorabilia his entire life. When he was in the second grade, he said he cut out a copy of a Wagner card and carried it around in his pocket.
“Since I was 8 years old, I’ve hoped and dreamed that one day I’d be able to get one.”
The Wagner was the highest-graded card of its kind sold since the PSA 8 version reportedly sold in two private transactions last year, the second for a reported $2.8 million. Two poor quality Wagners also sold at auction last year, one through Robert Edward Auctions and another through Heritage Auctions.
While the Wagner card got plenty of mainstream media attention over the weekend, it was one of a number of pieces which sold for high five and six-figure bids.
An 1888 N321 S.F. Hess California League graded near set (39/40) sold for $180,000 including the buyer’s premium while a 1960 Topps baseball set, with 85% of the cards graded PSA 9 or 10, brought a stunning $108,000 after a $26,000 opening bid. The set is in second place on PSA’s Set Registry.
An uncut sheet of 24 cards from the 1933 Goudey Sport Kings set sold for $90,000. The sheet includes cards of Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Jim Thorpe and Red Grange.
One collector shelled out $240,000 for a high grade 1938 Lou Gehrig game-worn jersey. The road gray #4 shirt does not appear to have ever been restored or altered since it was worn by the baseball icon. A Gehrig game-used bat brought $84,000 while a Ruth signed and game-used bat originally obtained by Black Sox member Buck Weaver sold for $120,000.
A program from the 1903 World Series at Boston attracted interest from those who appreciated its history as the first-ever World Series game relic. It will cost the winning bidder $96,000.
The complete uniform worn by Hank Aaron during the 1974 season went for $72,000. Aaron was wearing it when he hit his 733rd career home run.
A pristine Ruth single-signed ball, graded 8.5 by PSA/DNA, sold for $57,000, the same price realized for a 1958 Roberto Clemente game-worn jersey.
Ken Griffey Jr.’s 600th home run ball, hit earlier this summer, stopped at $35,000 with a realized price of $42,000 after the buyer’s premium, while Barry Bonds still proved he has some value in the sports memorabilia marketplace. The ball Bonds hit for career home run #760 was purchased for $32,400.