What’s The Most Expensive Card Ever Sold?

Sports cards are collectables, they’re often a part of a larger set, and as with many similar things, there are cards which are exceedingly rare, and with them comes a price.

In this article we’ll be talking about the most expensive card ever sold, and why it cost the price that it did. So without further ado, let’s get started.

What’s The Most Expensive Card Ever Sold

The Most Expensive Card 

The current record price for the most expensive sports card ever sold is $6.606 million which was paid for a 1909 Honus Wagner baseball card in August 2021, it’s generally believed that there were only 50 to 200 of these cards ever produced at the time which is why the card is so extremely rare.

On top of this, just three months earlier in May 2021 a Honus Wagner T206 1909 card was sold for $3.75 million, also making the top 10 list, but not reaching the top.

So why did this card in August sell for almost double the money?

The card is considered even more exceptionally rare because of its very good condition.

It’s believed that there’s roughly 60 of these cards available out in the world, and most are considered to be in poor, average, or in the very best of circumstances good condition.

The one that set the record was in fantastic condition, especially considering it’s 112 years old.

This particular Wagner card received a grade 3 from Sportscard guaranty Corp (SGC) who’s reports collated with Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) and Beckett Grading Services (BGS) suggest that there’s only ever been 4 T206 Wagners that have ever been graded above of a 3, which shows how exceptionally rare this card in question was. 

There was also an early stoppage of the printing of Wagner’s card, this is up to speculation as to why, but many people imagine that this was because Wagner either wasn’t receiving enough money from The American Tobacco Co. or he simply didn’t want to be associated with cigarettes anymore.

The card’s rarity and price all add fuel to the speculation of why this card was stopped from being printed. 

This sale put Wagner 4 times on the top 10 highest selling sports card list. Meaning overall from the top 10 sports cards ever sold Honus Wagner has accrued an absolutely staggering $17.15 million dollars. 

The Second Most Expensive Card Ever Sold

Mickey Mantle holds the position of the second most expensive card that’s ever been sold, coming in at $5.2 million. The card was a 1952 mint baseball card, commissioned by Topps, it’s one of only 9 that are in existence.

It was graded mint 9 by PSA which is an almost perfect condition, and was described as being the best looking card of its type in existence.

According to PSA the only flaws with the card were its slightly off white borders, and a very small and not noticeable wax stain on the back of the card. 

Inflation Of Sports Cards 

In 1975, the same Honus Wagner T206 card that we’ve previously mentioned could be purchased for a mere $1500. If you were to adjust for inflation, then the Wagner T206 would’ve only been worth $7500.

Compare that with 20 years later, when the card was worth $500,000, and then $1.27 million in 200. It’s easy to see just how the prices of ultra rare cards can skyrocket.

Just 21 years afterwards the card would be sold for $6.606 million. This isn’t a strange occurrence in the world of sports cards though. 

With the covid pandemic there came a massive uplift of sales that went on in the sports card scene,some believe this is due to the cancellation of most live sports, or maybe even nostalgia for older times.

But this uplift saw the sale of the most expensive card ever sold of all time, and there’s good reason for that. Let’s take a look at some.

  • Nostalgia- Many people growing up in the 80’s and 90’s collected sports cards as children/teenagers. Now that they’re older, and have disposable income, they’re much more likely to invest in some more expensive sports cards, and teach their own children about their favorite cards from their childhood, which keeps the market going.
  • Alternate Investment- As of late, sports cards aren’t just a hobby anymore. With the massively increasing popularity and price of different cards, some can even make a legitimate living off of sports cards, and if not then they can easily make money from them. Investing money into rare sports cards and watching their price grow over years is foolproof, and if you have cards you know will increase in value, it’s very low risk. 
  • History- if nothing else, look at how the last 50 years have changed the world of sports cards, once they were a fun hobby for children, now millions of dollars are being exchanged for rare cards that only a few decades ago might’ve been eaten by the dog and you wouldn’t have cared too much. Technology and inflation are all the evidence a person might need to invest into a few decades into the future.

Final Words

Overall, sports cards remain a very fun hobby for some, and a way of making hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars for others.

Who knows when, or even if the next record will knock Honus Wagner from the top of the all time top selling card list, but if history has taught us anything, it’s that these prices will rise, so best keep any rare cards you have close to your chest.

There’s a LOT of money to be made here!

Bruno Breen
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