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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Nuns reap $220,000 from rare Honus Wagner card

Post-gazette NOW

Nuns reap $220,000 from rare Honus Wagner card
Saturday, November 06, 2010
By Diana Nelson Jones, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

This Honus Wagner card sold for $262,000.
Even though it was beat-up, cropped and laminated, it was a Honus Wagner baseball card, and it scored big for the School Sisters of Notre Dame of the Atlantic-Midwest Province.

The card that the Baltimore-based sisters put up for auction was rare enough to reap them $220,000. The card was sold for $262,000 at Heritage Auctions in Dallas Thursday night.

The buyer is reported to be Doug Walton, of Knoxville, Tenn., managing partner of Walton Sports & Collectibles LLC. Neither he nor representatives of Heritage Auctions in Dallas could be reached for comment.

The card was a bequest to the order by the brother of a former member.

The Pirates' Hall of Fame shortstop, nicknamed "the Flying Dutchman," played from 1897 to 1917.

Only 50 to 60 Wagner cards from the series printed in 1909 to 1911 are believed to exist.

"We were told that the card was valuable because there were so few of them," said Phyllis Brill, communications rector for the order of nuns.

The money "will go a long way toward supporting our educational ministries as well as our sisters in Latin America and Africa," said Sister Kathleen Cornell, the provincial leader of the order.

The sisters are not disclosing the identity of the man who owned the card. Ms. Brill said he and his sister "were very close, and he had no children. As he got older, he moved closer so he could visit her." Subsequently, she said, he became close to the community of nuns there. His sister died in 1999.

The sisters had not heard of Honus Wagner, said Ms. Brill. "It was a surprise to learn the value of the card. It was in poor condition but it had value because there were so few of them."

The total sale price includes a 19.5 percent buyer's premium.

A near-mint-condition Wagner card sold for $2.35 million at auction three years ago.