1904 Honus Wagner "Our Protection Against Loss" Pin

Sold For: $3,231

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 1321

Item Year: 1904

Category: Pins

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Presented is one of the greatest and most elusive rarities in all of celluloid pinback collecting: The 1904 "Our Protection Against Loss" Honus Wagner pinback. It's rarity is extraordinary. To date we have been able to confirm the existence of only three examples! This pin is particularly well known, despite its incredibly rarity, as its existence has long been documented in various books, including the most highly regarded pinback collecting books published by collector, author, and auction legend Ted Hake. Years ago we asked Ted about the illustration of this pin in his books and he told us that even he did not actually have this particular pin, and in fact that he had never come across one personally. That image had been borrowed from a longtime collector (who still has it to this day). At the time of our inquiry (decades ago), the plate example from the Hake books was the only example known. The exact meaning of the pin was then unknown, and at the time it was thought that perhaps it was a campaign pin of some kind, as Wagner did run for sheriff in 1925, and a rare pinback button was issued for that campaign. But this pin looked considerably older than 1925, and it was unknown if perhaps he ran for office in earlier years as well. Exactly what the pin was, and when it was issued, was not resolved until the early 1980s, when a newly discovered example turned up in the National Convention auction. That pin, which sold for an incredible $3,300 (then a record for a baseball pinback), had an advertising back paper on the reverse that identified the issuer as a Pittsburgh insurance company by the name of Commercial Oldest Accident Company. The "Our Protection Against Loss" Honus Wagner pin was an insurance company advertising pin! Comparing the portrait image of Wagner with the image which appears on the rare 1904 Pittsburgh Leader celluloid schedule (an example of which REA offered as Lot 873 in May 2007: http://www.robertedwardauctions.com/auction/2007/873.html) dates the "Our Protection Against Loss" pin to exactly 1904, which is the era we would have guessed on our own based on its appearance and construction even without this confirmation. So there were then two examples known...until this example surfaced! The offered example is only the third "Our Protection Against Loss" Wagner pin that we have ever seen or heard of. (Note: This example was presented at auction in April 2008 at REA, where it appeared as Lot 1296 and realized $4,406; it has been consigned to this auction directly from the original purchaser at that auction). Pin collecting is still in its infancy, and most pins sell for a very small fraction of the price commanded by cards of similar rarity and significance. Still, it would be hard for any vintage collector to not appreciate this extraordinary advertising pin, which features a stunning portrait of Honus Wagner, is one of the premier vintage baseball pinbacks, and is literally more than ten times rarer than the famous T206 Wagner. This is one of our all-time favorite pinbacks. The back paper is missing, there is rust on the reverse, and some foxing along the perimeter, but the image area is bright and clean, and the pin displays beautifully. Overall in Very Good condition and a worthy highlight addition to any world-class Honus Wagner or baseball pinback collection. Diameter: 1.25 inches. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $2,000/$4,000+. SOLD FOR $3,231

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