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May 9, 2018

BLEND Pittsburgh Welcomes the Johannes Peter “Honus” Wagner Antique Cigar Box

 Johannes Peter “Honus” Wagner 

You are looking at an historic artifact from the early 1900’s, a National League Hans (Honus) Wagner cigar box with the label still intact. This item was purchased at an estate sale from California in 2012.

Wagner (February 24, 1874 – December 6, 1955) was an American baseball shortstop who played 21 seasons in Major League Baseball from 1897 to 1917, almost entirely for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Wagner won eight batting titles, tied for the most in National League history with Tony Gwynn. He also led the league in slugging six times, and in stolen bases five times. Wagner was nicknamed “The Flying Dutchman” due to his superb speed and German heritage (“Dutch” in this instance being an alteration of “Deutsch”).

In 1936, the Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Wagner as one of the first five members. He received the second-highest vote total, behind Ty Cobb and tied with Babe Ruth.

Although Cobb is frequently cited as the greatest player of the dead-ball era, some contemporaries regarded Wagner as the better all-around player, and most baseball historians consider Wagner to be the greatest shortstop ever. Cobb himself called Wagner “maybe the greatest star ever to take the diamond.” In addition, Wagner is the featured player of one of the rarest and most valuable baseball cards in the world.

The box dates back to at least 1901 according to the Cigar Tax stamp across the top. The box is fully intact with only the outside trim and sticker showing signs of wear and tear. The bottom of the box is factory stamped and labelled Factory # 680 1st District PA. This factory was owned by the Litchen Bros Co in Philadelphia. Incidentally the three-line factory ID was used between 1883-1910, accompanied by the Caution Notice. It wasn’t until after 1910 that the Caution Notice was also stamped on the bottom of each box. This a good indication that the age of this box is consistent with the 1901 Tax Revenue stamp. A couple of years ago, this box was appraised at a value of $4,000 – $6,000 by Lunds Auctioneers & Appraisers, which is accredited by the Better Business Bureau.