Published: December 30, 2008
A rare T206 Honus Wagner baseball card †one of only a handful of known examples released into circulation in the early 1900s by the American Tobacco Company, and often called the Holy Grail of sports collectibles †soared to $791,000 at a three-day multi-estate sale conducted November 21′3 by Philip Weiss Auctions. The card was the top lot in a sale that grossed about $1.8 million.
“The only thing keeping the card from realizing a lot more money was its condition, which was SGC graded 3,” said Philip Weiss of Philip Weiss Auctions. “Still, the presale estimate was $500,000․800,000, and it ended up selling toward the high end of that range. What added to its allure was the fact that it was fresh to the market, consigned by the original owner’s family and never before offered.”
The Honus Wagner card was issued as part of the T206 series (1909‱911) inserted into packs of cigarettes as a promotion. But Wagner †a nonsmoker †threatened legal action if production of his own card continued. As a result, only around 200 of his cards ever made their way into the public’s hands. Last year, an example graded SGC8, and once owned by Wayne Gretzky, sold for $2.8 million.
The auction also featured a collection of original-owner T205 and T206 cards from the same era. The star lot was a highly prized Ray Demmitt error card, SGC graded 4; it hammered for $7,625. Another coveted sports collectible to cross the block was a Babe Ruth-signed baseball, PSA graded 9 out of 10 and obtained by the chairman of the American Legion league at Shibe Park. It made $67,800.
Around 1,200 lots came up for bid, in an array of categories, not just sports items. About 300 people packed the Philip Weiss Auctions showroom over the course of the weekend. Another 2,000 bidders registered online, submitting about twice that many bids, while many phone and absentee bids were recorded.
A Sid Luckman game-worn football jersey, still smudged with dirt from the gridiron, earned $32,770. Luckman played quarterback for the Chicago Bears from 1939 to 1950. The jersey came from the consignor, who was given the shirt after a game at Wrigley Field in Chicago in the 1940s.
A large bronze figure of a nomadic desert brigand by Franz Xavier Bergmann (Austrian, 1861‱936), went for $8,755. The sculpture, 21 inches tall and in very good condition, was cast in the cire perdue (or lost wax) method for which the artist is best known.
An original Prince Valiant Sunday page from March 1956, by the noted comic illustrator Hal Foster, garnered $16,950. Also, a letter typed and signed by Albert Einstein, in a custom clam-shell box, realized $10,450. The letter, dated September 6, 1946, talks about an article written by author John Hershey that year for The New Yorker magazine, regarding Hiroshima.
A manuscript copy of The Writings of Henry David Thoreau (Boston, 1906), with two half-page handwritten pages by Thoreau in Volume 1 of 24 volumes, rose to $13,560. The 3/4-leather-bound set, #34 of 600 sets, was in very good condition. Also, a copy of Sir Isaac Newton’s Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Amsterdam, 1723), in the original binding, went to a determined bidder for $11,300.
All prices given include the 13 percent buyer’s premium charged.
For information, 516-594-0731 or www.prwauctions.com .
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