Not everyone started out a collector, but this list of most very valuable cards is of interest to investors and hobbyists alike. The most expensive baseball card of all time was a T206 Honus Wagner card, sold most recently for $2.8 million, with less valuable cards fetching prices of $200,000 or more.
The Most Expensive Baseball Card Finds
1. T206 Honus Wagner ($2.8 million)
There’s no doubt that this is the most valuable and sought-after card of all time. The T206 Honus Wagner is an ode to the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Honus Wagner, who may also be one of the best ball players ever. Issued by a tobacco company in the early 20th century, it was a very limited edition card due to the shortened run by the card company. Less than 200 cards were made, compared to the hundreds of thousands of cards produced of other players at the time. The last known auction for the card was in 2011, when a buyer paid a cool $2.8 million.
2. 1952 Mickey Mantle ($525,000)
Everyone knows about this card. It’s the Holy Grail of baseball cards and quite possibly the most expensive baseball card of modern times. Featuring the great Mickey Mantle, it might be single-handedly responsible for the sudden uptick in trading action in the past decade. Last sold for over a half a million dollars, the 1952 Mickey Mantle card from Topps, may be the most sought-after post-war card of all time. It certainly is the most expensive baseball card from that era.
3. 1914 Babe Ruth Rookie Card ($517,000)
This Baltimore News Babe Ruth rookie card broke several records when it sold at a Robert Edward auction in 2008. Getting over $500,000 from the winning bidder, the card was in very good condition, and truly a rare offering almost 100 years after it was printed! Is it the most expensive baseball card? Not quite. But collectors were certainly drooling over what had to be Babe Ruth’s most coveted memorabilia.
4. 1955 Roberto Clemente ($432,690)
This hot 1950’s card isn’t as difficult to find as others. In fact, there have been several floating around on eBay and other sellers for years. Fetching a couple of thousands dollars for a graded card, the 1955 Robert Clemente has a good value for vintage collectors. A recent sales price of $432,690 for a PSA 10 rated card was seen as a phenomenal development by collectors, given the rarity of a card in this kind of condition. As a result, the demand for other cards featuring Clemente has risen. Expect to see more of the cards pop up on the market as time goes on and value goes up.
5. T206 Slow Joe Doyle Error ($414,750)
Robert Edward Auctions once again broke records with their sale of a “Slow Joe” Doyle card from the turn of the century. The 2012 auction brought in over $414,000 for the card, which was made extremely valuable due to a printing error. It is thought that there is only a few of these cards in existence, and that it is more rare than the T206 Honus Wagner! This card was often counterfeited, making it an amazing event when the genuine article hit the auction house.
6. Hank Aaron ($357,594)
A household name for generations, no one will ever forget Hank Aaron, or the ball card that brought in $357,594. Inspiring thousands of stories from Boomers, devastated that their moms threw away their vintage ball card collection, this most expensive baseball card for the time is still a fan favorite. The 1954 card was created by Topps and is the only officially-recognized rookie card for Hank “The Hammer” Aaron. This infamous card with the $300,000+ price tag happened to be in an unbelievable PSA 10 condition.
7. 8. 1933 Lou Gehrig – $274,950
While there were actually two Lou Gehrig cards in this set issued by Goudey Chewing Gum in 1933, it’s considered one of Goudey’s “Big Three” of baseball cards and something everyone wants to get their hands on. This particular card actually sold at far above value. A PSA9 was to fetch $30,000, and this gem mint broke records at almost $275,000!
8. 1911 Ty Cobb – $272,980
General Banking Co.’s 1911 Ty Cobb Card is a collector’s delight. Bringing in such a high price tag was due, in part, to the likelihood that a hand-drawn card from this time period would still be in any collectible condition. The PSA 8 card, a miracle by collecting standards, sold for a price tag of $272,980! The fact that anything Ty Cobb can bring in an amazing haul, good condition or not, has made it a goal of most collectors to have at least one item from his days in their stash.
9. 1910 Honus Wagner – $218,550
We are not surprised that another Honus Wagner made the list of most expensive baseball cards. Note that the card sold for significantly more than the PSA ratings site values it at. Perhaps it’s just the fact that owning one is so difficult!
10. 1914 Joe Jackson – $204,000
You can’t have a list of the most expensive baseball cards without a mention for Joe Jackson! This 1914 collector’s darling made so much because Joe’s cards are becoming harder to find than other players. Could it be that outrage during the end of his career caused many fans to turn and actually destroy what would be very valuable today? Who’s to say. Regardless of how you feel about Joe, his cards are worth tens of thousands of dollars in the right condition!