By the time you read this, the Robert Edward Auctions annual sale will be over. The PSA 1 T206 Honus Wagner card has already set a new record, closing in on $400,000 as the minutes dwindle.
No one has ever answered the question of why so few T206 Wagner cards were printed a century ago. There are three primary explanations that have been offered over the years:
1) He didn’t want kids to have to buy cigarettes to get his card or
2) He wasn’t being paid enough or
3) He didn’t approve of smoking
Since Honus was known to chew tobacco, it’s hard to fathom #3 although that’s been the most popular belief for years. #1 is certainly plausible although it would be an exceptionally strong move 100 years ago for a player to make such a fuss that the sponsor actually stopped printing the cards. #2 is a possibility, but was Honus really that greedy?
What about the possibility that the ‘short printed’ Wagner card was the first ‘chase card’ in a major series of baseball cards? Is it possible that American Tobacco decided it could sell more packs of cigarettes by making the Wagner card rare? He was among the top three or four most popular players of the day–#1 on many lists. Card producers have been doing it for years.
What do you think? Become a fan and discuss it via the T206 Facebook page.
One of the card companies has a new blog. If you’re a fan of the company, check out the Upper Deck blog.