The Honus Wagner Card: A Buyer's Lifetime Obsession
CNBC Sports Business Reporter
In August, Arkansas businessman John Rogers bought one of the famous Honus Wagner cards for $1.62 million. It was only months ago and the economy certainly hasn't made things better. So we were confused when Rogers put the card up for sale on eBay.
It was priced at $2.5 million and failed to sell, but Rogers told us he never intended on selling the most coveted baseball card in the world.
"I would have sold it for $2.5 million, but that was a price that I didn't think I'd get," said Rogers, who runs a collectibles business as well as a photo licensing business. Rogers said he was hoping that people would go to the Wagner item and ask him to buy other things in their collection.
"Someone came to us telling us that they had found Yankees bats used by Ruth and Gehrig and some others that were left over from spring training," Rogers said.
Rogers' story is pretty amazing in regard to the Honus card. He became obsessed with it as a kid, and traveled to the 1981 National Convention to see the card, which was then selling for $15,000.
"After that, I got a copy of it, cut it out and glued it to the back of a Nike shoe box," Rogers said. "I eventually put it into my Van Halen wallet."
Rogers went to play college football at Louisiana Tech, and during that time, went to trade shows. He set up with the collectibles business, while starting a photo licensing business that includes the rights to many of the Kennedy assassination photos.
His business was doing well enough that Rogers finally had enough money to spend on the Wagner card. He saw creased versions of the card going for $850,000, but he figured he was willing to spend more for a nicer one. So when the Mastronet auction came along this summer, Rogers decided he would spend as much as $1.2 million to get the card of his dreams.
"I went to a party that night and I didn't tell anyone I was going to bid on it," Rogers said.
"It was supposed to come up around 9pm, but it turned out to be later than that. After 9pm, I started drinking a bit and I think that gave me the extra courage to go up to $1.35 million (the buyer's premium brought the price to $1.62 million)."
The next day, Rogers said he had a bit of buyer's remorse, but when he was given the chance to sell it for $1.72 million shortly after, he decided he'd keep it.
A couple weeks ago, Rogers had a holiday party and couldn't get people outside because everyone at the party wanted to have their photo taken with the Wagner card.
Rogers says the collectibles business will come back with the economy and some of the items being bought today will eventually double.
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