As Dave Brown noted then, it probably wouldn't have made it to auction if it were just about any other card. The famed T-206 from 1909 is missing three borders, sports a giant crease in its upper righthand corner and has been laminated. It has been graded in poor condition, a usual turnoff for collectors willing to bid big dollars for baseball cards.
But because this is the card in the world of card collecting — approximately only 60 are known to exist — the School Sisters of Notre Dame knew they could expect a hefty sum from the sale, somewhere between $150K-$200K.
When the gavel finally came down on the auction Thursday night, the nuns got more than they were expecting: The card for the Hall of Fame shortstop from the Pittsburgh Pirates sold for $262,000 to a collector and card shop owner named Doug Walton.
The nuns will receive about $220,000 of that amount with the extra amount being charged as a 19.5 percent buyer's premium by Dallas-based Heritage Auctions. Sister Virginia Mueller told the Associated Press that the proceeds will help the order's interests in 30 countries around the world.
While a near-mint T-206 sold for a mind-boggling $2.8 million in 2008, the sisters no doubt feel blessed to collect an unexpected $220K for their charity. When it was discovered in the brother's safe deposit box, the card — which he had owned since 1936 — came with a handwritten note.
"Although damaged, the value of this baseball card should increase exponentially throughout the 21st century!" it read.
Turns out he was right. May the sisters put their Wagner-charged windfall toward their admirable work.
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- Honus Wagner