It's the most valuable -- and arguably the most famous -- trading card in sports history.

The Honus Wagner T206 tobacco trading card from 1909 has commanded prices at auction that other trading cards haven't come close to matching.

But as a Forbes column points out, buyers and sellers are trading much more than the card itself. Based on past experiences, one could argue that the card carries the ability to influence the fates of those holding it.

That fate changed hands once again this weekend, when one of 60 known Wagner cards was sold at auction for $403,664. The Associated Press reported that SCP Auctions did not disclose the names of either the buyer or the seller.

It's sort of obvious that ownership of a valuable collectible would have a profound effect on the lives of those in possession, but the timeline the Honus Wagner card has followed is littered with astonishing tales.

There's the case of the School Sisters of Notre Dame in Baltimore, who inherited the card from a deceased brother of one of the sisters only to have it stolen by a card collector.

Even more remarkable, though, is that the auction house Heritage resold the card, fetching the same price, and delivered the money directly to the nuns.

One of the more high profile buyers is Wayne Gretzky, who in 1991 teamed with Kings owner Bruce McNall to purchase the card as an investment.

But fortune didn't favor the pair: Gretzky ultimately had to buy out McNall of his 50 percent stake, while the owner declared bankruptcy and proceeded to serve a five-year prison term for conspiracy and fraud. Gretzky did turn a small profit, though, selling the card four years later to Wal-Mart for $500,000.

In 2007, the Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick bought the card for $2.8 million with the intention of making it a family heirloom.

The difference in price between the $2.8 million that Kendrick paid and the $403,664 from this past weekend's auction is likely a matter of card quality. Forbes reported that Kendrick's card, which was the same one Gretzky had owned, is considered to be "in near mint condition."

Hilarious Throwback Baseball Cards


Steve Trout

"Aw Skip, I don't wanna pitch tonight -- Van Halen is in town!"


Rex Hudler

Boy, Rex really didn’t feel like playing that day.


Oscar Gamble

Few people realized Gamble was completely bald on top.


Willie McGee

Looks like Willie just caught a whiff of Pedro Guerrero's game-worn jock strap.


Greg Minton

We actually kind of dig the Elvis glasses, but are those caps on his teeth? Baba Booey! Baba Booey!


Don Rossi

Eat your heart out, Jamie Moyer -- Don Mossi apparently pitched until he was 73 years old.


Brian Harper

If you ever wondered who Zack Morris was on the phone with on "Saved by the Bell," now you know.


Randy McCament

Nice try, "Randy McCament" -- we know you're just Greg Minton without the Elvis glasses.


More From

For the complete list of Hilarious Old Baseball Cards, go to

previous next