Tag Archives: Honus Wagner

Everyone’s Wagner is real, right? We all want to find treasure.

If I had a dollar every time I have heard this at a show…


I know everyone wants to find treasure. I do too.
But we can get blinded by “what could be” and forget about facts.
What got me into wanting to learn more about fakes and alterations in the first place was buying a small stack of reprints at a flea market in the late 80s. I really thought I had found treasure according to the price guide values. When I figured out they were not real, I decided that I would not let that happen to me again. I learned a great deal over the years but it did happen again. Each time I have learned from it.
I have learned plenty about cards and I’m still learning. There will always be new types of fake cards and alterations coming in.
Are there still cards like T206 Wagners out there waiting to be discovered? You bet. In fact, we graded one in 2008 that literally came out from under someones bed. It had been in the family for many years.
One thing that makes such big finds special is that they are few and far between. Like the Black Swamp find, it’s a once in a lifetime find, but it was right there in an attic all those years just waiting for someone to find.
The thought of unearthing treasure can also blind us from the obvious. There are hundreds of “cards” listed on ebay stating they are reprints because ebay requires them to do so. If someone has a potential six-figure card in their hands, do they get it authenticated or do they dump it on ebay as a reprint? If a seller is savy enough to use ebay, they are generally savy enough to figure out exactly what they have. They have given the buyer all the info they need.
It’s that potential of getting rich quick that blinds some to make bad purchases.

1906 Fan Craze advertisement


The Fan Craze game card sets are designated as either WG-2 or WG-3. The WG-2 designates the American league deck of cards that have a blue back. WG-3 is the National League deck. The NL cards have a red back.

Once upon a time, there was a thought that the 2 decks were issued separately and at different times. As the above ad shows, the 2 decks were issued at the same time, and you could order 1 or the other. It is interesting to note the ad mentions the player images are halftone pictures. This just means the images are made up of small black dots of different sizes. The larger the dot, the darker the image. This is the type of printing we see on other pre-war cards like  M101-4/5 Sporting News, and 1928 Fro-Joy. A type of halftone is still used on cards today, but there are 4 colors instead of just black. And today’s cards are digital halftone printing. Halftone printing in newspapers was still a relatively new process when these cards were printed. Widespread use of the technology began only the decade before these cards.

The cool thing about these cards is that they fill a gap in card issues. There was not much in the way of baseball cards between the 1895 N300 Mayos and the 1909 T206 cards. This means there are some first appearances to be found. There are also plenty of cool images to be found. The Fan Craze company obviously used images taken by the Horner Studio. The Eddie Plank and Honus Wagner, for example, have the same image as found on their T206 cards.

Now if I only had $0.39, and a time machine.




Signed copies now available!






Wagner of the day


Why? Because everyone needs a little fake Wagner in their life. To most card people, it is obvious. For those that are not as familiar with the T206 Wagner, here are some quick basics:

1909-11 T206 cards were printed using beautiful, crisp lithography inks. The details that could be obtained were amazing for their time and frankly in my opinion, not again since. An original color lithographic print from this time can look like an amazing mini watercolor painting. Having said that, does the card above appear like a beautiful watercolor painting?

Well, it is dirty from 100 years of grime you might say. To that I would suggest you look at some inexpensive common T206 cards in comparison. Remember, the famous and expensive Wagner card was printed along side the lowly common cards. Printed using the same inks and the same stock. These were inserts inside of packs of cigarettes that were used to increase sales among young boys (more on that in a future posting). American Litho. did not setup a “special” printing press to print just one card. Old Wags was printed just like all the other cards.

Take a look at any dirty old common T206. Do you still think they look the same?

Well, what about the missing black border surrounding the image? Original cards have a solid black ink line border around the player image. For some reason, many of these mass produced reprints lack that border. That alone doesn’t stop some from thinking the treasure they unearthed from their grandmothers Bible isn’t the real deal.

If there are any skeptics ledt at this point, lets look at the stock. Sure it’s glossy. Sure the image is printed using technology not available until decades after the cards were made but what about the stock itself? If you were to peal a small portion away and expose the paper, it will most likely fluoresce under UV light. Paper whiteners were added to most commercially available paper starting in the late 1950s.

But, if all else fails, there’s the old smell test. This one does not smell like 100 year old paper stock. No, it smells like the coffee it was soaked in to make it appear “aged.”

Signed copies now available!