Book Review: The Card

I recently spent a weekend traveling, which was just enough time to finish an interesting book that would make be a good read for any sports card collector. It has been discussed many times in many different blogs, but is still worth mentioning.

The Card: Collectors, Con Men, and the True Story of History's Most Desired Baseball Card is concise and written well enough to keep the more studious bloggers out there interested. It details the supposed origins of the Gretzky T206 Honus Wagner, it's travels through the auction curcuit, the stories of the men who have owned, bought, sold and brokered it, and the man on the card itself.

I don't want to give anything away about the T206 Wagner, but suffice to say that there is enough suspicion to make me doubt the heritage of the card. No, it is not a fake, but there are questions regarding how a (now) 100 year old card could have survived, unnoticed, for so long without having a crease or a frayed edge. The series of events that have carried the card to this day is worthy of an undercover cop story, and most of the characters surrounding it certainly warrant a questioning eye.

The Card is not a must-read, but it does enlighten some of the processes that auction houses, brokers and authenticators go through in order to prepare cards for resale. It questions much of what the industry values, and certainly makes me believe that I am in card collecting for the right reasons: for the enjoyment I get from owning a certain card or set, and not for the money that can be made and lost in this crazy hobby.

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