Sports Collectors

Cheap, Original Honus Wagner Baseball Cards

You couldn’t blame a novice collector for thinking every Honus Wagner card is out of reach.  Anytime one of the few dozen T206s sells at auction, the headlines scream as the price soars deeper into seven figures.

Yet one of baseball’s most famous faces has plenty of original cards you can own without seeing a loan officer.  No, they’re not as inexpensive as they may have been a few years ago, but at least a few of these should be in reach of most collectors.

In no particular order, here are ten more Wagner cards to put on your want list if you don’t own them already.  There are some other, lower priced Wagners out there that just aren’t very attractive.  We’ve tried to pick cards that best represent the Flying Dutchman.

Click the title of each to see any that may be available now on eBay:

1909 Colgan’s Chips Wagner

The Carl Horner portrait Honus made famous when he opted out of the cigarette card giveaway that same season is the same image used for his Colgan’s Chips card.  The mint-flavored gum was more wholesome and kid-friendly and the little disc of Wagner is way more wallet-friendly. 

Many are off-center or creased but you can sometimes find a respectable-looking version for for less than you’d pay for a higher end box of a current product.  Just don’t dally if you see one.

Cheap, Original Honus Wagner Baseball Cards

1911 Sporting Life Wagner 

The classic image—this time on a Sporting Life premium.  The little cards got a pastel touch and it creates a really neat looking card of Wagner during his prime. 

High-grade examples may be out of reach for many collectors but by being choosy, you can still land a lower grade version that isn’t ugly for a modest four-figure price.

E93,E94,E95,E98 Wagners 

Cheap, Original Honus Wagner Baseball Cards

OK, we’re cheating a little here, but the fact is the caramel cards are plentiful enough to keep prices in check and it’s really hard to pick just one.  Again, seek out the lowest graded, best looking example you can find and you’ll be pretty happy. 

Of course, if you can afford a better one, go for it but you can grab one of these in a lower grade for less than $5,000.

Cheap, Original Honus Wagner Baseball Cards

1909 Sporting News Supplement Wagner (M101-2) 

This isn’t really a ‘card’ but the Sporting News Supplements have been treated that way forever since they’re part of a long-running series.  This Wagner came out during the heat of the 1909 pennant race and it’s a great photograph of Honus at the bat. 

There’s another one featuring Wagner shaking hands with Ty Cobb.  Either is great but the single shot of Honus is usually less expensive.

Cheap, Original Honus Wagner Baseball Cards

1916 M101-4 Wagner

He’s “Hans” Wagner here and it’s a great photo of him following through on a practice swing.  The M101-4 is an immensely popular set and while this card is from late in his career, it’s great to have him in it. 

Prices vary quite a bit but this is one of the best images of Wagner you can own for the money.

1916 Ferguson

Cheap, Original Honus Wagner Baseball Cards

Bakery Wagner (BF 2)

Part pennant, part photo card, this unique looking issue was a premium in loaves of bread back in the day.  The little set also includes Joe Jackson.  There was a small find of these in southern Illinois several years ago.  

Again, less than $4,000 will usually get you one.

Keep these out of the light as they will fade. 

1914 Polo Grounds Wagner (WG4)

Cheap, Original Honus Wagner Baseball Cards

Part of a tabletop game, the Polo Grounds cards were naturally protected in boxes and typically weren’t played with that much so higher grade examples are easy to find and really not very expensive.  You could lump the Tom Barker and National Game Wagners in here too.  Offbeat, but great old photos of “Hans”.   

A no-brainer, really, if you just love having original, pre-War cards of iconic players.

Cheap, Original Honus Wagner Baseball Cards

1936 National Chicle (R312,R313) Wagner

The R312 is preferred here although both are great.  Dating from his coaching days with the Pirates, the R312 shows Honus coaching Arky Vaughan.  The other is a solo shot.  Honus always looked like an old soul and even though he’s not really that old yet, he looks ancient on the latter. 

Not really that easy to find, but ultra-cheap, I suppose because he’s a coach and the size is non-traditional.  So what.  It’s Honus Freaking Wagner.

Cheap, Original Honus Wagner Baseball Cards

1940 Play Ball Wagner 

Wagner joined a lot of past and present legends on this black and white set but the difference was that Honus was still wearing a uniform, a couple of decades after his last game. He spent many years as a Pirates coach so this isn’t just a commemorative card of a long retired Hall of Famer.

The 1940 Play Ball set has a lot of great names in it.  You can own a mid-grade example of this one for a few hundred dollars.

1948-49 Leaf Wagner

Cheap, Original Honus Wagner Baseball Cards

Interestingly, the man who didn’t want kids to hang around or even worse, buy cigarettes 40 years earlier, is shown taking a big dip of chew on this incredibly awesome card from the latter stage of his life in uniform.  He’s “John” here, even though his real name was Johannes Peter Wagner (“Hans” or “Honus” for short). And he’s wearing that late 1940s baby blue Pirates gear. Like Play Ball, Leaf knew putting a coach in one of its sets wasn’t dumb if it was this guy.

If you can only afford $200 or so, this would be our choice.  A card of a Hall of Famer that’s also a baseball card conversation piece?  It doesn’t get much better.

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