Honus Wagner - Original
- Original (Oil) - 29" x 54.5" - $30,000
Message from the artist:
I’m not a huge sports fan, but Honus “Hans" Wagner captured my attention. His baseball card is valued as the most expensive in the world, with 57 out of 200 still in existence. We have one of them in the museum collection.
Wagner’s card is arguably the only whose valuation is so high not because of his skills as a baseball player—though he was incredible. The valuation is a result of his character and courage to stand up for his convictions.
In 1909, the American Tobacco Company signed a deal to sponsor Wagner’s card, which included the design of a cigarette on its backside. Wagner, a non-smoker, protested how his card was being used to market smoking to children. When Wagner demanded that they either remove the image or find a new sponsor, the league protested, saying that they wouldn’t find another sponsor, and they didn’t. Most of the cards were destroyed and never went to market, losing Wagner and the league massive revenue—in the short term.
It’s remarkable that Wagner’s decision to stand on his convictions may have lost him money in the short term, but in the end, his convictions made his card the most valuable in baseball history. Now that’s inspiring.