Honus Wagner, Pittsburgh, National League, from the White Border series (T206) for the American Tobacco Company

Issued by American Tobacco Company

Not on view

The Honus Wagner is the rarest card in the vast collection of trade and postcards collected by Jefferson R. Burdick (1900-1963). Burdick's collection numbers over 30,000 baseball cards and was given along with another 270,000 pieces of printed ephemera to the museum beginning in 1947. Burdick's cards, which date from the late 1880s to 1960, tell a history of popular printmaking in the United States. Between 1887 and 1959, Burdick attempted to collect virtually every baseball card issued by the tobacco and gum industries–then the primary producers of baseball cards. His collection not only includes sought after cards, such as the famous Wagner (issued between 1909 to 1911), but also complete sets of early issues that he identified and organized into a system first published in 1937 and still in use today. The Burdick Baseball Card Collection at the museum is the preeminent and most complete collection outside of the Baseball Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown, New York.

The Wagner card, known as the T-206, is part of a large series known as the "White Border" series. Burdick named the entire series of over 200 cards, T206 (i.e. tobacco number 206), which was issued by the American Tobacco Company to promote sixteen brands of cigarettes and loose tobacco. The Wagner card is extremely rare because the player apparently did not want tobacco products to be sold to children, who were avidly collecting sports cards, and quickly pulled it from production.

Honus Wagner, Pittsburgh, National League, from the White Border series (T206) for the American Tobacco Company, Issued by American Tobacco Company, Commercial lithograph

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