The Holy Grail of baseball cards just set another record.
A T-206 Honus Wagner card, well known as one of the rarest baseball cards ever printed, sold for $7.25 million in a private sale, auctioneer Goldin Auctions announced on Thursday. Goldin estimates the card is one of fewer than 50 authenticated copies left in the world.
The sale breaks a record set last year by another copy of the card, which sold for a total of $6.6 million.
The origin of the card's rarity is a legend itself, as the cards were produced as part of a line made by the American Tobacco Company to put into cigarette packs. Wagner objected to his likeness being used in such a way — the popular story is he didn't want children to buy cigarettes because of him, though it remains very possible he just wanted more money from the ATC.
The company ended up producing only around 200 cards and distributing even fewer, creating a collector's item for the ages.
From The Athletic:
"I've been in this business for a very long time and seen a lot of incredible trading cards and pieces of memorabilia, but there is nothing on earth like a T206 card," Goldin Executive Chairman and founder Ken Goldin said in a statement. "There's a reason why no Wagner card has never sold for less than it was previously purchased for – the card is art, it's history, it's folklore. The T206 is one of the reasons I do what I do and why serious collectors around the world love this hobby so much. To be a part of history and facilitate this record-breaking sale is an honor."
The record might not stand for long, though, as ESPN notes a similarly rare 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card has already reached $7.08 million at auction and is expected to break $10 million by consigner Heritage Auctions.