The CONNECTICUT WAGNER
Honus Wagner, affectionately known as the “Flying Dutchman” or “Hans,” was a truly sensational professional baseball player. His cards are collected with great enthusiasm by many in the hobby spanning a variety of different sets. There is one example, however, which carries with it a status which is somewhat larger than life in the world of collectible cards – the 1909-11 T206 white border Honus Wagner portrait. Every Wagner is significant and each will carry with it a personality and history all its own. We have seen examples such as the “Jumbo Wagner, Gretzky/McNall Wagner, All Star Cafe Wagner, The Nun’s Wagner” and others capture the imagination of collectors, each making its own unique journey to have survived. Well known names such as Hockey Legend Wayne Gretzky, actor and passionate baseball fan Charlie Sheen, Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick and many other affluent individuals have taken admirable steps to have secured Wagner T206 cards in the past. Put simply, a T206 Honus Wagner carries with it an aura which always excites the collecting masses and seems to increase rather rapidly in demand and status.
There have been different ideas put forth by the collecting community as to why the Honus Wagner card was pulled from production. While some believe it was a factor of something contractual or of a business nature, theories such as Wagner believing he was not being compensated fairly or that his likeness had been used without his consent, others have provided a different theory. There are many in the community who believe the most likely scenario is that Wagner objected to his likeness being used on a product (smoking tobacco) which he did not approve of from an ethical stand point, especially with the fact that children would want his card and would naturally be exposed to tobacco in order to acquire this popular picture of Hans. While this is not a point which we are able to prove in any certain way as of this writing, it does remain interesting that after his T206 card was pulled from production, much like that of Hall of Fame pitcher Eddie Plank, their likeness being used on cards was noticeably absent from the gorgeous 1911 T206 Gold Border tobacco issue and related tobacco series, while it was used heavily on cards originating from packs of candy and sugar products such as Cracker Jacks. The precise circumstances as to why this situation unfolded as it did still carries some mystery with it, however collectors have admirably attempted to piece together the true story the best they can despite difficulty in obtaining data.
Here we have the “Connecticut Wagner” which was given its name due to the fact a Father and Son collecting team had the good fortune of acquiring a 523 T206 set during a 1985 card show in Connecticut for the sum of $10,000 (the Doyle National variation was not yet known to the T206 masses). While it can be considered a serious financial commitment for baseball cards at that time, today $10,000 represents a tremendous bargain the likes of which will never be seen again. Interestingly, the father and son team acquired it from a veteran collector who assembled this wonderful 523 T206 set, though neither party made the card publicly known. This card was not known to exist to the T206 community until the spring of 2010 when the card was auctioned by the highly regarded Robert Edward Auctions, marking the first time it had ever been offered publicly or had even been photographed. Further, despite the fact that is has understandably received some wear from its many years of existence, the Connecticut Wagner offers tremendous overall eye appeal and many redeeming qualities, making for a truly enjoyable example of the most exciting and storied card in the hobby and accounting for a priceless piece of T206 history.
Do you believe there are Honus Wagner T206 yet to be discovered ??? …
Johannes Peter Wagner
Born: February 24, 1874 – Chartiers, PA
Died: December 6, 1955 – Carnegie, PA
Career BA: .327
Managerial Record: 1–4
Louisville Colonels NL (1897–1899)
Pittsburgh Pirates NL (1900–1916; player/manager: 1917)
Known as “The Flying Dutchman,” Honus Wagner is the focal point of the T206 collection. Putting the value of his card aside, he is considered by many to be the greatest shortstop of all time. He led the National League in batting eight times and hit over .300 an amazing 16 times. His best year was 1900, when he batted an incredible .381. Over his historic career, Wagner banged out 3,415 hits and knocked in 1,732 runs. Many books have been written about the great Wagner. Suffice it to say that the T206 set has become the most sought after collection because of one player, The Flying Dutchman. A member of the first class elected to the Hall of Fame in 1936, Wagner placed second in the voting (to Ty Cobb), tied with Babe Ruth.
An excerpt from the hit book “The T206 Collection – The Players & Their Stories” by Tom & Ellen Zappala. Click HERE to order the SECOND EDITION