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Local man buys rare honus card

Nevada Appeal Staff Reports

Charles Whisnand

Most sports memorabilia collectors never think they’ll come across a card like this – and virtually all of them never do.

Carson City’s Greg Atkinson used to be one of those collectors. Until now. With a $10 purchase at Soks Sports Cards in Carson City – Atkinson came across a Honus Wagner card – the only one of its kind in the world – which he now owns. The card is estimated to be worth as much as $20,000.

“My dream card I’ve always wanted, I’ve got now,” said the 24-year-old Atkinson, who has been collecting cards all of his life. “This is by far the one that I want.”

With his $10, Atkinson bought a box of Upper Deck SP 2003 Legendary Cut cards. The signature cut Honus Wagner card was in the box.

A signature cut means the actual signature of Honus Wagner was placed on a new card. The signature is rare since Wagner – a Hall of Fame shortstop with the Pittsburgh Pirates in the early 20th century – usually signed his name as “J. Honus Wagner” or “John H. Wagner.” Wagner rarely signed his name as “Honus Wagner.”

The “Honus Wagner” signature is so rare that it was the only one distributed by Upper Deck for 2003. On the card is 1/1, which means it was the only card distributed this year by Upper Deck with the “Honus Wagner” signature.

Soks owner Scott Kirk said this could be the last “Honus Wagner” card ever issued since it’s the only one that was distributed this year. “This is probably the last one that will ever be issued,” Kirk said.

“To give you an idea, I’ve been collecting for 24 years and I’ve never seen a card like this ever. You always hear about it. You never get to see it.”

When he realized that he had a card with any Honus Wagner signature that was overwhelming enough for Atkinson, who said he dropped the card on the counter when he saw the signature. A card with any Honus Wagner signature is estimated to be worth at least $5,000. “I didn’t want to touch it,” Atkinson said. “It hasn’t left my sight.”

But Atkinson didn’t know how rare the “Honus Wagner” card was until Kirk pointed out the 1/1 symbol.

“My reaction was pretty much just jumping around the shop,” Atkinson said. “When something like this happens it’s just amazing.”

When another customer asked if Atkinson was going to sell the card, he replied, “No way.” Atkinson, though, did admit it was tempting.

“At first I thought about selling it,” Atkinson said. “The card will be worth 10 times as much in 20 years.” Atkinson said he plans to give the card to his son or grandson.

So does Kirk lament letting such a valuable card go for $10? “In all honesty, no,” he said. “Greg’s been a customer ever since I opened five years ago.

“When a customer gets a card like that, it makes it worthwhile for everybody. Being a card shop owner that’s the ultimate you want to see your customer get.”

But when asked, Kirk admitted he “pretty much had the wind knocked out of me” when describing his reaction. “For this card to come up here – it’s a one in a billion shot.”