When discussing Honus Wagner, collectors often immediately think of the iconic T206 card. However, Wagner's early and exceedingly rare card, the Henry Reccius Cigars card, precedes the T206 and remains relatively unknown among avid collectors.
Overview of the Honus Wagner Henry Reccius Cigars Card
Henry Reccius, a cigar manufacturer based in Louisville, Kentucky, utilized trade cards as a means of advertising his business. These trade cards typically featured an advertisement alongside a visual depiction. In the case of Reccius, one such card featured a young Hans Wagner, who later became known as Honus Wagner during his illustrious 21-year career in Major League Baseball, primarily with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
During Wagner's tenure with the Louisville Colonels from 1897 to 1899, Reccius collaborated with him to produce a trade card bearing Wagner's likeness. The card promoted Reccius as the manufacturer of the "Hans Wagner ten-cent cigar," alongside other cigar offerings and Reccius' contact information.
Despite its recent discovery in 1998, the card's scarcity is evident, with only two graded examples known to exist.
Dating the Honus Wagner Henry Reccius Card
Determining the exact date of the Honus Wagner Henry Reccius card presents challenges akin to locating copies of the card itself. While initially believed to originate from Wagner's time with the Louisville Colonels (1897-1899), evidence suggests a later production, potentially in the 1910s-1920s.
Research by Major League Baseball historian John Thorn casts doubt on the card's earlier dating, as Reccius was not recorded at the address printed on the card until 1904. Thorn's findings suggest a post-1900 issuance, although definitive dating remains elusive due to discrepancies in residence records.
Dispelling the T206 Tobacco Myth
The Henry Reccius card holds significance in debunking a prevalent myth surrounding Wagner's T206 card. Contrary to the belief that Wagner objected to his image being used on tobacco products, his appearance on the Reccius card, as well as other tobacco-related items, challenges this notion. Rather than a principled stance against the tobacco industry, it is posited that Wagner's reluctance to endorse cigarette cards stemmed from concerns about their accessibility to young fans.
The precise reason for the withdrawal of Wagner's T206 card from production remains uncertain. However, its circulation on other tobacco-related items suggests a nuanced rationale beyond a blanket aversion to tobacco associations.
Honus Wagner Henry Reccius Card Value
Valuing the Henry Reccius card poses challenges typical of limited-edition items. In a 1998 auction by Hunt Auctions, the card fetched $15,400, indicating its considerable worth. While its value has likely appreciated since then, it remains unlikely to reach the seven-figure sums commanded by Wagner's T206 cards.