Sport Images before 1940
1904-1942 The Photographic Archive of Baseball
2016 SOLD for $ 1.8M including premium
Until 1942 Conlon is the anonymous author of the most important photographs of baseball, published and re-published in magazines, guides and sports cards. All the top players in Major League are displayed in his work.
Conlon shoots all his views on the field. He observes the differentiation of actions depending of the player, their method to hold the ball or the bat. His early negatives are made on glass plates 5 x 7 ". The improvement of the techniques then allows the photographer to use the format 4 x 5" on glass and later on acetate.
The increase of sensitivity now makes possible the view of a speedy movement in close up. His image freezing a spectacular action by Ty Cobb on July 23, 1910 is a masterpiece of instant photography.
The 7,462 original negatives taken by Conlon during the 38 years of his photographic career are housed in 85 boxes, each one around shoebox size. They are sold together at lot 80082 by Heritage in Dallas on August 27 with a guide value of $ 1M.
This complete archive is unique, sensational and irreplaceable in the history of baseball throughout its period. The sale includes only the photographs and in no way the intellectual property rights. Please watch the video shared by Heritage.
1909 Jumbo Wagner
2016 SOLD for $ 3.2M including premium
Jumbo is a wording introduced around 1970 to designate stamps with larger margins than average while maintaining an excellent centering. Its unwanted origin is due to the uncertainty in positioning the perforating wheels. Philatelists love these pieces where the margins provided an additional protection of the image against accident and contamination while also increasing the visual appeal by a nicer framing.
Probably we will never know why a T206 Wagner got a Jumbo feature. The original printed sheet included adjacent images of other players. The perfectly parallel and sharp edges make implausible the hypothesis of a cutting hazard. I guess that a fan of Honus Wagner cut it with the focus to get a better framed image of his champion at the expense of the rest of the sheet. Wagner, unquestionably one of the greatest baseball players of the early twentieth century, will later be one of the first five elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
This card has surfaced in the early 1970s in a collection where it was kept with other T206s by its first owner, reinforcing the hypothesis that its Jumbo cut was contemporary to its printing.
The one and unique Jumbo Wagner is graded EX5 (MC) by PSA. The general condition is excellent (EX) despite some rounding in the corners and a very slight oozing from the image below it at its bottom edge. The image of Honus Wagner remains in mint condition with perfect color (MC).
Prices are now significantly rising for the best American sports cards. The Jumbo Wagner was sold for $ 1.68M including premium by Mastro Auctions on August 1, 2008 and for $ 2.1M including premium by Goldin on 29 March 2013. It is now estimated $ 5M by Goldin in an online sale ending on October 1, lot 1.
In my discussion introducing the Jumbo Wagner in this column before its 2013 sale, I reported that the highest price recorded on a Wagner T206 in a private sale, $ 2.8 million, had been paid in 2007 on a card graded PSA 8 that was later believed to have been rebuilt.
1909 T206 Wagner SGC Authentic
2021 SOLD for $ 2.5M including premium by Heritage
narrated post sale
The top of the scale consists of a few cards graded VG 3 and above. Among the cards graded by PSA, only 6 achieve such a distinction. For the population of lower ranks or ungraded, the T206 Wagner is such a treasure that collectors are no longer satisfied with the identification of the grade.
On February 28, 2021, Heritage sold the Garagiola Wagner. It is in such a pitiful condition that SGC had authenticated it without giving it a grade. Its provenance from the estate of a baseball broadcast commentator certainly did not influence the bidding.
Its margins had been trimmed by a collector to stick it in a scrapbook. The corners are rounded and the back is torn off for almost half of the surface. Its turpitudes ensured its glory because its conservation in the album preserved its colors. It fetched $ 2.5M including premium, lot 80001.
Ty Cobb recalled him as the one man he couldn't intimidate. The T206 Honus Wagner will always be the true king to us, and forever may he reign.⠀— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) February 16, 2021
February 27 - 28 Winter Platinum Night Sports Sale, No. 50038 #HASports #HonusWagner https://t.co/OAAWPY5C1o pic.twitter.com/1eC76MjtNJ
1909 - T206 Wagner
2020 SOLD for $ 1.43M including premium by Goldin
1909 Honus Wagner in Grade 2
2019 SOLD for $ 1.35M including premium
It is only known with the advertising back variants for the two most common tobacco brands of the American Tobacco Company, Sweet Caporal and Piedmont, the former being known in two tobacco plant identifications, 25 and 30. All copies indicate the series at 150 subjects which is the original edition from 1909 before it was extended. The withdrawal of the Wagner card just after the original release is obvious but not documented in period.
Its population verified as authentic is about 60 units. Because of its scarcity on the market, collectors rush on these cards even in the lowest condition grades. A Sweet Caporal card referencing the rare Factory 30, described as Authentic/Altered without grade by PSA because its margins had been trimmed, was sold for $ 550K including premium by Heritage on September 19, 2019.
A Sweet Caporal with Factory 25, graded Good 2 by PSA on their scale from 1 to 10 and perfectly identifiable through the PSA label on its carrier, has changed hands several times in a few years. It perfectly testifies to the growing appetite for the T206 Wagner in the hobby.
It did not exceed $ 236K at auction in April 2005. It was then auctioned for $ 660K by Lelands in 2014 and for $ 780K including premium by Heritage in November 2016. Its private sale for $ 1.2M was announced on May 30, 2019 by Forbes informed by SCP. It is now the lot 1 in the online auction organized by Mile High Card Company which will close on October 10.
1909 The Oceanside Wagner
2015 SOLD for $ 1.32M including premium
T206 is a code name created in a 1951 catalog for the cards edited from 1909 to 1911 by the American Tobacco Company. The Honus Wagner card was printed in the first year and almost immediately withdrawn. Wagner remains today one of the most outstanding players in the history of baseball and this withdrawal can not have any other explanation than a disagreement between the champion and the publisher.
Treasures still exist in our time. In 2008, an inventory is made in Oceanside NY on a collection that had never left the family of its original owner. It includes a nice copy of the T206 Wagner, clean and well centered with unfaded bright colors and an acceptable low wear at the corners.
Its only significant anomaly is a crease on the front side at the top right in the orange background, far from the image. The card was graded VG3 both by SGC and by PSA. It was sold for $ 790K including premium by Philip Weiss in November 2008.
It is for sale on April 25 by Robert Edward in an online auction operated from New Jersey, lot 1. The text in the catalog considers a total population of about 46 authentic T206 Wagner including 4 copies in better condition and 3 others in similar condition. Here is the link to the website of the auction house.
1909 Prices are rising for T206 Wagner
2012 SOLD 1.23 M$ including premium
T206 is a classification code established in 1951 in a reference catalog. It is a series of 523 cards published between 1909 and 1911 by the American Tobacco Company. The back of the cards is printed with an advertisement for one or another of the 16 brands of cigarettes and tobaccoes then offered by this company.
Honus Wagner was one of the best baseball players of all time, whose prestige is almost equal to that of Ty Cobb.
The miracle and mystery of the T206 Wagner occur at that point : it has been edited in a very low quantity, having been withdrawn from circulation shortly after its creation in 1909. The reason why Honus Wagner quarreled with the publisher was the subject of several unverified hypotheses, not really worth to go into further detail.
The media story of the T206 Wagner begins in 1991, when the most perfect known copy sells for $ 451K to two fans including the hockey player Wayne Gretzky. This copy has more recently reached $ 2.8 million in a private transaction.
A T206 Wagner in very good condition is for sale on the web on April 19 by Goodwin, an auction company based in St. Louis MO. It has a Sweet Caporal Cigarettes back.
Same as for the top comics and coins, experts are able to compare the best T206 Wagner cards. Goodwin believes that only five copies are in better condition than the example they have for sale. By extrapolation of prices recorded on examples in similar condition between 2000 and 2009, the auctioneer hopes that the million dollars will be reached.
POST SALE COMMENT
Prices rise, as predicted by the auctioneer. This copy in very good condition was sold $ 1.23 million including premium.
In the same sale, an Eddie Plank of the same T206 series in near mint condition with an unusual back was sold $ 330K including premium.
1909 - T206 Wagner
2020 SOLD for $ 1.17M including premium by Mile High Card Company
1909 T206 Wagner
2008 SOLD for $ 790K including premium by Philip Weiss
1909 T206 Wagner
2016 SOLD for $ 780K including premium by Heritage
(1909-1911) The Self Proclaimed King of Tobacco
2020 SOLD for $ 900K including premium
The very rare Cobb variant with Cobb back has the only back bearing the name of a player, in an obvious promotional intention. The complete advertising text is "Ty Cobb" King of the Smoking Tobacco World. It appears exclusively on the back of the image of Ty Cobb's portrait on a red background. No other T206 card is known with this back, not even the other three Ty Cobb subjects from the same series.
The treasure trove of 7 identical cards in the southern United States increased the total population of Cobb backs to 22 units in 2016. Interestingly 5 previously known units had also surfaced as a single group, in 1997 in Georgia. The cardboard of this model is tougher than a common T206 and tobacco stains are very rare.
Ty Cobb, nicknamed The Georgia Peach, had tried to market a brand of pipe and rolling tobacco under his own name. The cards could be coated to be protected from tobacco stains, an improvement over the usual T206. The assumption that the Cobb-Cobb card is a later plagiarism for a commercial operation that was ephemeral or failed would explain all the peculiarities of the material and of the editing as well as its rarity.
The two best cards of this type come from the 2016 hoard now known in the hobby as the Lucky 7 Find. The card graded VG+ 3.5 by PSA was sold for $ 410K including premium by Heritage on February 24, 2018. The best, graded VG/EX+ 4.5 by PSA with a glossy surface, is lot 3 in the online sale by Mile High Card Company to close on September 3, 2020.
On September 19, 2019, Heritage sold for $ 144K including premium a tobacco tin box inscribed on front side as Ty Cobb Granulated Cut Plug along with a stylized image of Cobb with bat on shoulder inspired from another T206 variant of this player.
1916 The Rookie Cards of Babe Ruth
2016 SOLD for $ 720K including premium
The card 151 of the later coded M101 series edited in 1916 is the first to show Babe Ruth since his debut in Major League and is appreciated in the hobby as his Rookie card. The nickname Babe replaces for ever the first name. The attitude of the player is in full swing to fire the ball. The picture is sharp and pleasing.
The M101 series, comprising 200 views partly modified in a second edition during the year, was mainly intended for distribution. The back identifies the sponsor. One of them is the weekly paper The Sporting News 'the paper baseball of the world' owned by C. C. Spink and Son in St. Louis MO. I guess that he was also the publisher of the cards.
On August 27 in Dallas, Heritage sells two rookie cards of Babe Ruth.
Lot 80001 has an unprinted back. It was graded NM 7 by PSA and its centering, while not perfect, is better than usual for this series. The population certified by PSA is six in that grade and four in the next higher grade. Its guide value is $ 600K.
Lot 80002's back is advertising the Standard Biscuit Company. The text indicates that a photograph is offered in each package of their products. This card graded Good 2 by PSA is announced with a guide value of $ 40K which is already far exceeded 24 days before the sale.
The rookie card of Babe Ruth was preceded in 1914 by another card from his time in the Minor League. Aesthetically unappealing, this rare first card of "Ruth, pitcher" is almost always in poor condition.
Results including premium :
NM 7 : $ 720K
Good 2 : $ 130K
1925 Gehrig by ESCO
2021 SOLD for $ 800K including premium by Goldin
narrated post sale
The images were issued in black and white by halftone prints in postcard size, 3-3/8" x 5-3/8" (8.5 x 13.5 cm). They were often reused from year to year. The publisher is not identified and the back is blank, which is consistent with the fact that the sale to the public was not planned. The views are not numbered.
In 1925, Exhibit publish the portraits in action of 128 baseball players, most often in a vertical format. The player's name and position, along with his city and league, are grouped in a box at the bottom left.
This series includes a rookie card which is outstanding in the history of baseball images : Henry L. Gehrig, Infield, New York, A.L. (American League). Lou Gehrig, 22, holds up his bat for hitting. He already has that look of a quiet colossus which will please the public so much.
A print graded EX-MT 6 (MK) by PSA was sold for $ 102K including premium by Heritage on February 26, 2017, lot 80029, and for $ 800K including premium by Goldin on January 30, 2021, lot 16. The mark (MK) observed by PSA is on the back, almost completely erased, and does not affect the image.
This view is indeed not the earliest image of Gehrig's career. A print of a press photo taken in 1923 featuring him with the Yankees uniform was sold for $ 22.7K including premium by Heritage on August 14, 2015, lot 81004.
1933 The Autograph Hunter
2021 SOLD for $ 760K including premium
He died on March 8, 2020, too early to witness the great euphoria in the sports card market. He was 97 years old and was still maintaining his collection. His heirs were amazed to discover the extent of this accumulation. Wheatland dedicated five sessions to this heirloom. The cards were graded by PSA. Please watch the video shared on YouTube by CBS.
The Goudey card series, published in 1933 and 1934, brings a quality glow within the decadence of the 1930s trading cards, in competition with postcards. It is not surprising that it appealed the teenager.
1933 Goudey includes 240 positions, of which four Babe Ruth and two Lou Gehrig. Uncle Jimmy's collection had six signed by Ruth and two signed by Gehrig. In October 2020, Wheatland sold for $ 440K including premium a VG-EX 4 Goudey-Ruth with an 8 autograph grade.
In August 2020, Wheatland sold for $ 325K including premium a Goudey-Ruth # 149 graded VG-EX+ 4.5 with autograph grade 6. In the last session, which ends on February 21, the other copy of the same position, graded VG-EX 4 with an autograph graded 8, is estimated $ 500K, lot 56.
Cards in great condition are eagerly sought after. A sale dedicated to 1933 Goudey by Heritage on January 24, 2019 highlighted three unsigned cards graded Mint 9 by PSA : a Gehrig for $ 580K, two different Ruth for $ 530K and $ 460K. These results include the premium. Two years ago, signed cards were of interest only to specialist collectors and VG-EX 4 Goudey-Ruth cards did not exceed $ 15K.