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Nuns discover rare Honus Wagner baseball card, will auction it off for charity

October 27, 2010 | 12:58 pm

Wagner1_325 The baseball card is in horrible shape -- it has a big crease in the upper right-hand corner, three of its white borders have been cut off and it has been laminated.

But collectors still are likely to go nuts over a rare century-old Honus Wagner baseball card from the T206 series, recently found in a safe deposit box of a man who left all his possessions to a group of nuns, the Baltimore-based School Sisters of Notre Dame.

The sisters have decided to auction off the card, which is expected to sell for $150,000 to $200,000, with the proceeds going to their ministries in 35 countries around the world.

Sister Virginia Muller had never heard of the renowned Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop.

"It just boggles your mind," Muller said. "I can't remember a time when we have received anything like this."

About 60 Wagner cards are thought to exist. This one went undetected because the owner had it since 1936.

"The T206 set is known as 'The Monster' among collectors. It's just really tough to complete the entire set," said Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions at Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas, which is auctioning the card.

He added that the Wagner card is "one of those that's always sought-after, always desirable, and there's not a big population of them. Even in a lower grade, they do have quite a bit of demand and command a strong price."

As of Wednesday afternoon, the highest bid was $65,000 (up $5,000 from that morning). The auction ends Nov. 4.

A near-mint copy of the same card went for a record $2.8 million in 2007.

-- Chuck Schilken

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: The Honus Wagner card being auctioned off for charity. Credit: Heritage Auction House / EPA