Gum Not Included

Charting the value of the Mona Lisa of baseball cards
March 11, 2007

PIRATES SHORTSTOPHonus Wagner was just trying to keep kids from smoking in 1909 when he forcedthe American Tobacco Company to withdraw the baseball card with his likenessthat was being packaged with cigarettes. The success of that effort isdebatable, but Wagner did create a cottage industry. A handful of '09 Wagnercards made it to market, becoming instant collectibles, and fewer than 100still exist. In a private sale last week an unidentified California collectorbought one, in near-mint condition, from Las Vegas businessman Brian Seigel fora record $2.35 million. Here's how the card's value has climbed through theyears.

1971
After a Wall Street Journal story on card collecting, a Wagner sells in aprivate transaction for a record $1,000

1986
A Long Island memorabilia store owner stumbles on a Wagner in his inventory,then brokers a private sale to collectors Bill Mastro and Rob Lifson for$25,000

1987
Mastro and Lifson put the card up for sale; sporting goods magnate JamesCopeland submits winning bid of $110,000

1991
Copeland holds an auction; the Honus goes to Wayne Gretzky and L.A. Kings ownerBruce McNall for $451,000

1996
A Florida woman holds an auction after winning a Wagner in a Wal-Martpromotion; it goes to Chicago collector Mike Gidwitz for $640,500

2000
Seigel decides he wants to be the first to shell out $1 million for a card; hesucceeds, buying a Wagner for $1.265 million on eBay

2007
$2.35M

CHARTCourtesy Beckett Media$2M $1M $0
1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010
PHOTOKATHY WILLENS/AP (WAGNER CARD) PHOTOCOURTESY MICHAEL GIDWITZ (GIDWITZ) PHOTOROBERT BECK (GRETZKY) PHOTONICK UT/AP (SEIGEL)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)