Mickey Mantle’s Topps Card at Highest Price Ever!


I am still a card collector and there are times when I visit the friendly neighborhood Baseball Card Shop and drool over baseball cards that hold value from the 1940’s and 50’s. My wish list is usually Jackie Robinson or even Ty Cobb. I do stumble across cards with value when I open a pack but I learn the value will go down soon if not sold at the right time, for example Yasiel Puig, and Yoenis Cesepedes rookie cards did bring in dividends for me. The only cards I keep are Mike Trout cards, they hold value. I came across this article today about Mickey Mantle’s 1952 Topps Card value and the price it went for.

A new record and personal best has been set in baseball card collecting. A 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle baseball card was sold by Goldin Auctions this weekend for a whopping $330,000.00 and Heritage Auctions had a sample sell for $382,400.00. While there is now way to track privately negotiated transactions outside of auctions and public sales, this weekend’s PSA-graded “8” Mantle card sales beat out all known prior record sales for the same card in any grade.

True vintage baseball card collectors know that the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card is not worth as much as a handful of other cards and memorabilia items, but to many this card represents the official face card of vintage baseball card collecting. There are more than 1200 PSA-graded card samples and 374 SGC-graded card samples in existence of the 1952 Topps Mantle.

Honus Wagner cards from the T206 tobacco baseball card set from 1909 certainly sell for higher, with one fairly recent Goldin Auction fetching some $2.1 million.

Before you think that this $330,000.00 sale price and the $382,400.00 is all that there is to consider, there is actually more to the story here. Auction houses charge a buyer’s premium, and the premium here from Goldin was said to be 21.5%. Heritage says that its realized price includes a 19.5% buyer’s premium, so that would imply a $320,000.00 sales price if there were no exceptions versus an all-in price for the Goldin price of almost $401,000.00 if there were no discounts or price kickers.

Vintage sports card collectors know that many samples of the 1952 Topps Mantle card in various grades sell each year. Most sell in a range of a just under $10,000 to over $20,000 for the most common grades, but it is very rare for a graded sample of 8 and higher (on a scale of 1 to 10) to come up for auction or sale. Many samples come up via eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) or other auction houses. Items of this magnitude attract investors as well as sports cards and memorabilia collecting enthusiasts.

These record-breaking auctions took place via absentee bidding and on-site bidding at the National Sports Collectors Convention held in Chicago, Illinois. One force which likely drove up the price here on top of the quality of the two cards is that the card grading company matters on the realized prices. To collectors it usually matters if there is a PSA grade (1-10) from Collectors Universe Inc. (NASDAQ: CLCT), a BVG grading (1-10) from Beckett, or an SGC grade (10-100 & 1-10) from Sportscard Guaranty. And for ungraded cards of this magnitude, buyers and collectors simply will not pay up like this for an ungraded card due to risks of fakes or alterations.

To demonstrate that some collectors value one grading company’s grade much more than others, a 1952 Topps Mantle with BVG grading under Beckett as “8” sold for $81,348.40 back in 2013. The auction house Mile High had a SGC sample graded “86” sell for $62,417.90 in 2014. Here are some other auction results in high-end PSA graded cards of the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card, sourced by each auction house and by VintageCardPrices.com (amounts do not include buyer premium and do not exclude auction fees):

  • In 2014, a PSA 8 Mantle sold in a SCP Auctions lot with a listed sale price of $268,664.00.
  • In 2013, Robert Edwards Auctions had a PSA 8.5 Mantle sold for $272,550.00.
  • In 2006, a PSA 9 sample of the Mantle sold for $282,588.00 in a Memory Lane auction.

Back in 2001, a PSA graded “Gem Mint 10″ by PSA was sold for a record-breaking sale at the time of $275,000. Again, that was 14 years ago. A Mint 9 grade has a suggested market price (PSA/SMR) of $650,000 if one of the six PSA-graded samples ever comes up for sale.

Auction prices are fairly easy to track. There are only a dozen or so real sources for pricing in auctions of this caliber. There can be off-the-record sales of other extremely rare graded cards that take place, but this sale marks the official highest sale price ever paid for any graded 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card.

Here is where the numbers get really hard to fathom. Kids buying bubblegum cards back in 1952 at convenience stores, grocery stores, and department stores paid a mere 5-cents per pack back in the day. Another industry insider anomaly here is that technically the 1952 Topps Mantle is not really the “real rookie card” for Mickey Mantle. The true rookie card title belongs to the 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle, and there are a slightly higher number of PSA graded samples of that card.

Most of the Mantle cards from that 1952 Topps set which still exist today were not sold in large quantities all around the country due to the so-called high-number card releases taking place later in the year and often not to as many sales outlets. Some Mantle and 1952 Topps cards were salvaged rather than destroyed with vast numbers of the 1952 Topps cards at the end of the year. Ken Goldin, founder of Goldin Auctions, gave us an emailed statement on the pricing of this auction ahead of the final auction results. He said:

This is currently the highest priced Mickey Mantle card publicly sold, any card, any grade. We are thrilled that everyone finds this card as special as we do. A well centered, perfect color 1952 Topps Mantle is a true rarity.

Sales of this magnitude stand out to collectors and investors alike. This may also raise the bar for other high-end graded cards that are deemed the most desired cards to vintage collectors. The images below show both 1952 Topps Mantle cards, and any color variations are likely due to website images versus real life images.
source: John C. Ogg 24/7WAllst.com

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