Joe Palumbo Burlington, Vermont
As many of you may have heard, recently a 1952 PSA 9 Mickey Mantle sold at auction for 2.88 million dollars. While that doesn't break the record for the highest price paid for a baseball card, (3.12 million for a T206 Wagner), it did get me thinking.
What would an original T206 Honus Wagner PSA Gem Mint 10 sell for?
Let's suspend disbelief for a moment and dream of the possibilities. It still happens on occasion, that a rare 100+ yr-old card is discovered in an attic. (Remember the "Lucky 7" Cobb cards found a couple of years ago).
So perhaps...just maybe, somewhere out there in someone's attic is a gem mint Wagner, (non-slabbed of course), pressed between the pages of a Hemingway novel.
So to find an answer to my question I called an old friend of mine, Mike Papa, owner of Green Mountain Cards in Essex Jct, VT.
Mike has almost forty years of experience in the sports card business.
"I would say somewhere between 18-24 million dollars," was Papa's response. He added, "Currently, PSA has only encapsulated 13 gem mint T206's, so if you add that factor along with how few of the Wagners are out there, well you're talking about the greatest find in the history of sports cards."
The more I thought about his response, the more I agree with him. Of course, anytime a noteworthy card is in the news, the response most of us hear from non-collectors usually begins with, "Who would pay that kind of money for a piece of cardboard." I normally walk away, (with the exception of my mother) but sometimes I engage with these non-collectors. Oftentimes my rebuttal is to let them know about a Leonardo da Vinci painting that sold at auction in 2017 for a record $450 million dollars. "Well, that's different," is the usual response. But is it different? One is made of canvas and the other made of cardboard. They're both pieces of art and as we all know, art is in the eye of the beholder.
So until that day, when that magical, pristine card-of-all cards is discovered, we will all dream of being the one to find it.