Like many of you, the 1909-11 t206 Honus Wagner is considered the Holy Grail of Sportscards. It’s such a rare card that even in the worst condition an authentic copy costs about as much as a house.
Well, I’ve come to terms with the fact that unless I managed to unearth one of these Wagners during a trip to a garage sale or a thrift store I’ll never own one.
So where does that leave me, a collector who aims to get the rookie card or a very early card of every Hall of Famer? It basically sends me looking for alternatives.
Wagner has quite a few options. I could’ve settled for the 1948-49 Leaf card that is a bit more common but I actually don’t like that card because it’s hideous and was produced like 40 years after his iconic card. And most of the Wagner tobacco era cards — the non-t206 ones — still go for upward of four figures. I mean it’s Honus freakin’ Wagner, a hobby giant, I would expect nothing less.
But then I found what I have deemed to be a much cheaper alternative: the 1909-11 Colgan’s Chips card/disc.
It may not have corners, but this item has a few things going for it. First off, if that pose looks familiar that’s because it’s the same one used on the legendary Wagner. Secondly, it hails from 1909-11, the same era as the hobby’s most expensive card. And third, it’s an item that was distributed in GUM packages instead of cigarettes.
Part of the reason the t206 Wagner is worth so much is because it was pulled from circulation at the request of Wagner who reportedly didn’t like his name being associated with tobacco. So the fact that this was a gum card adds some charm as Wagner likely approved of this. Also, gum and baseball cards haven one hand in hand for much of the hobby’s history.
This is my first true vintage Honus Wagner and in a few days I will unseal it from its SGC case and send it to Dallas, Texas, so that it can be slabbed by Beckett Grading. Upon its return, it will fit nicely in my graded card display case.