Mickey Mantle Card Sells for Record $12.6 Million
Photo by Matt Dirksen/Colorado Rockies/Getty Images. Pictured: Mickey Mantle Topps 1952
A new record for a baseball card was set on Saturday night as a 1952 Mickey Mantle card was sold for $12.6 million by Heritage Auctions.
The card, graded a 9.5 by SGC, was remarkably purchased by the consignor for $50,000 in 1991.
The sale represented the first ever eight-figure trading card, shattering the record $7.25 million paid in a private sale for a T206 Honus Wagner recently. Another Honus Wagner sold for $6.6 million.
The highest previous sale for a 1952 Topps Mantle was one graded a PSA 9, which sold to entrepreneur Rob Gough, for $5.2 million in January 2021.
The 1952 Mantle, card No. 311, was part of the first set Topps made to promote its chewing gum. It is partly more scarce because, after eight years of trying to get rid of cards from that set, Topps dumped them off a barge in the Atlantic Ocean.
Even still, it wasn’t clear that a near pristine version of a card like this could reach such heights.
In January 1988, a writer for the industry trade publication Sports Collectors Digest thought the top for such a card might be four figures.
“So far the highest reported sale price of a mint ‘52 Topps Mantle is $9,000…When will it end? Probably sooner than many dealers think,” the article read.
The Mantle card up for auction was bought in 1985 for $1,000 by famous sports card buyer and seller Alan Rosen as part of his famous 1952 Topps find in Massachusetts, in which he found and purchased more than 6,000 cards in near gem mint condition. The find included 65 rookie Mantles of which this was the finest example.
This card was the best of the bunch, and Rosen was known to pay the most for cards at the time — and in cash.
Rosen flipped this Mantle rookie later that year for $3,500. He then bought it back in 1991 for $40,000 before selling it to diehard Yankees fan Anthony Giordano for $50,000. Giordano, now 75, consigned it to Heritage.
PSA has graded three 1952 Mantles a pristine 10. None of owners of that card are willing to sell, but if they did, it’s believed to be worth more than $30 million each.
Other big items that sold in the auction include: A 1979 Gretzky Topps rookie in a PSA 10 for $1.2 million, Jordan used UNC Converse shoes for $120,000, a signed Michael Jordan debut ticket for $78,000 and Horace Grant’s three Bulls champ rings sold collectively for $297,000.
The most oddball item? The ticket for the last John Madden plane he ever took before deciding he would never go on one again. That sold for $11,400.
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