The School Sisters of Notre Dame in America have sold a rare 1930s baseball card that they inherited from a relative of a deceased nun for $262,900 (£163,000).
The T206 Honus Wagner baseball card, one of the most valuable pieces of sports memorabilia in the world, was sold to a bidder at Heritage Auctions in Dallas.
It was left to the School Sisters of Notre Dame’s Atlantic-Midwest province by a relative of one of the sisters, who died in 1999.
Her brother left everything he had to the congregation, including the card, which exceeded initial estimates of its auction price by $162,900. The School Sisters of Notre Dame, an international congregation, will realise $220,000 from the auction. They intend to use the money to fund their charitable work.
Sister Virginia Muller, treasurer for the Atlantic-Midwest province, said: “We’re very grateful to have the extra funds to help the School Sisters of Notre Dame where we minister in more than 30 countries.”
“We may not have known who Honus Wagner was before this,” she added, “but his name is blessed to us now, and we’re thankful for the outpouring of support that we’ve seen from people across the nation since the story broke. Now we’re ready to go back to doing our work.”
Honus Wagner, nicknamed the “Flying Dutchman” because of his speed and German heritage, played in the National League from 1897 to 1917, mainly for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He is considered the greatest shortstop ever.
According to the news release, the winner of the card is Doug Walton, managing partner of Walton Sports & Collectibles.
He said: “For many years I have been in the hunt for an original T206 Wagner in any condition and the back story on this card makes it that much more special. We will proudly display this card throughout our seven card shops in Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida in the coming months.”
According to the news release, only about 50 of the T206 Wagner cards are known, with this one being new to the census of known examples. This card was in the collection of the donor since 1936, and caused a major stir in the sports collectibles hobby when its existence was revealed earlier this summer.