A mere three examples of the D322 Tip Top Bread Honus Wagner have been graded higher than this wonderful card, by either SGC or PSA. Featuring the Flying Dutchman in the fabled pose immortalized by legendary photographer Carl Horner, the card was issued as part of a 25-card set by the Ward-Mackey company to help promote its Tip Top Bread brand. Comprised of members of the 1909 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates, the attractive and unusual set is relatively scarce today, with the Wagner unquestionably being the set’s key card.
This is a particularly exceptional and important example, having been the card once owned by hobby pioneer Lionel Carter. Carter begin collecting in the 1930s and continued to do so until his extraordinary collection was auctioned in early 2009. Known for his penchant for high-grade cards, Carter amassed an incredible collection over the years while giving back to the hobby by sharing his considerable knowledge with other collectors. The length of time during which Carter built his collection meant that he acquired many cards before the hobby was as condition-sensitive as it is today; his cards were carefully affixed in scrapbooks where they remained protected for decades. The result has been an increased level of confidence among contemporary collectors that cards bearing the Carter pedigree are fresh, unaltered and not subjected to the rigors to which many prewar cards have been exposed over the years.
This is one of the finest examples of this card extant, and is the key card in a scarce, desirable and unique issue. In addition, it was one of the more valuable individual cards in the famed Lionel Carter Collection, fetching the highest price out of all the items in the auction where it initially appeared. The winning bidder has held the card for nearly five years, during which time just two other examples in similar grades have sold at public auction, both in 2010.
Suffice to say this is a scarce and extremely valuable card of one of the hobby’s most widely collected players, once owned by a beloved hobby pioneer, one of the highest-grade examples known to exist.