Honus Wagner Original Cabinet Photo, 1903
Carl Horner Portrait Image Used for Wagner T206 Rookie Card
Offered here is the original photograph used for the iconic Honus Wagner rookie card!
The studio portrait was taken by renowned Pittsburgh photographer Carl Horner in 1903. Years later, the image was used for the most sought after and valuable card in all of sports collecting - the notorious 1909-1911 Honus Wagner T206.
It is said that Wagner demanded the tobacco companies stop production of the card because he did not want his image used to promote tobacco use, but most baseball enthusiasts agree that Wagner simply wanted more compensation for the use of his image. Whatever the reason may be, only a handful of cards were ever produced, and the Wagner T206 is now the most iconic piece in the entire hobby – the highest graded example is currently estimated to be worth more than $10 million plus.
The image is crystal clear superbly sharp contrast. Despite minor wear typical of its age, the overall condition is fantastic. Measuring 3½ x 43/8 , this is the Holy Grail of sports photography!
The reverse features various writings, including "Wagner" and "Pitts". Although taken taken in 1903, it also features "1906" which was likely written for organizaitional/cataloguing purposes at the studio.
These photos were originally issued in a white matting from Horner's studio. Today, only one such photo in its original matting is know to exist. The rest were taken out of their original matting and used to make reproductions for composites, postcards, and other publications.
In a world where cards and autographs have dominated the hobby, vintage photography is an emerging genre of sports collecting that will continue to rise. This original photograph is extremely scarce with very few authentic pieces known –Serious collectors consider a photo like this a true artifact, as opposed to cards and other memorabilia that were mass produced for commercial sale and advertising.