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Saturday, November 06, 2010

Nuns sell Honus Wagner T-206 card

Last week, we brought you the news of a rare Honus Wagner card that a group of Baltimore-based nuns had up for sale after inheriting it from the deceased brother of one sister.

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.