Mickey Mantle 1952 Topps Card Joins Ranks of Cardboard Elite at Heritage Sale

This 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card, graded by Professional Sports Authenticators (PSA) as an 8.5 on a 10-point scale, sold for $1.3 million at Heritage Auctions. It is one of the finest known examples of Mantle’s most coveted card.

This 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card, graded by Professional Sports Authenticators (PSA) as an 8.5 on a 10-point scale, sold for $1.3 million at Heritage Auctions. It is one of the finest known examples of Mantle’s most coveted card.

DALLAS – Heritage Auctions, a major player in the sports collectibles market, recently completed its Fall Catalog Auction. Many new realized price records were set for vintage sports cards. The auction served as a major benchmark of blue-chip investment quality sports cards that has the industry in a continuing bear market.

Leading the way was the sale of a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card that sold for $1.3 million. The card’s condition was graded by Professional Sports Authenticators (PSA) as an 8.5 on a 10-point scale. It is one of the finest known examples of Mantle’s most coveted card. Only six other cards have ever received a higher grade. To put the new dollar figure into perspective, sales of two other 1952 Mantle cards, each graded in a PSA 8, both of which were sold by Heritage earlier in the year, each exceeded just over $500,000.

The sale of the card marked the first time in history that a post-war sports card cracked the vaunted million-dollar barrier. It now joins the ranks of the famed Honus Wagner T206 as being one of the most valuable sports cards in existence.

Goldin Auctions, a competing auction house in the sports collectibles market, sold a copy of the aforementioned Wagner card for $3.12 million in late September of this year. Its sale eclipsed the previous mark set by a different example of the card that sold for $2.8 million in 2007.

A 1939 Playball card of legendary slugger Ted Williams, holding a PSA Mint 9 grade, realized $239,000. Earlier in the year, Heritage sold a high-grade example in a NM-MT 8 that commanded just $40,630.

A 1939 Playball card of legendary slugger Ted Williams, holding a PSA Mint 9 grade, realized $239,000. Earlier in the year, Heritage sold a high-grade example in a NM-MT 8 that commanded just $40,630.

The three cards, consisting of both Honus Wagner T206s and the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle PSA 8.5, are the market’s only seven-figure examples. However, if trends continue, other cards may soon follow and join this elite club.

While the sale of the Mantle card captured the headlines and attention of numerous mainstream news outlets, it wasn’t the only prestigious example of vintage trading cards breaking new records.

As with all collectibles, rarity and condition are paramount to value. Another strong indication of this fact played out in the sale of a 1939 Playball card of legendary slugger Ted Williams. When the gavel dropped, the winning bid for the PSA Mint 9 card was $239,000. Earlier in the year, Heritage sold a high-grade example in a NM-MT 8 that commanded $40,630. There are 86 representations known to exist at that PSA grade. But only a dozen Mint 9 examples are known to exist.

However, it wasn’t just baseball cards that saw new records.

This 1958 rookie card for legendary Cleveland Browns Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown sold for $358,500. This is easily one of the most significant post-war football rookie cards in the hobby. Graded PSA Mint 9, the card is one of only five known to exist in this condition.

This 1958 rookie card for legendary Cleveland Browns Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown sold for $358,500. This is easily one of the most significant post-war football rookie cards in the hobby. Graded PSA Mint 9, the card is one of only five known to exist in this condition.

Legendary Hall of Fame running back for the Cleveland Browns, Jim Brown, had his 1958 Topps rookie card sell for $358,500. This is easily one of the most significant post-war football rookie cards in the hobby. Graded PSA Mint 9, the card is one of only five known to exist in this condition.

Other vintage cardboard highlights of the record-setting auction included:

• The sale of the highest-graded example of Cap Anson’s 1887 N172 Old Judge card for $95,600;
• Another esteemed football rookie card, a 1957 Topps Johnny Unitas, graded in a PSA Mint 9 sold for $167,300.

The 1,200-plus lots included in the catalog auction did not only consist of sports cards. Several pieces of high-profile sports memorabilia also found new homes during the auction’s three-day event.

One piece of particular interest was the baseball alleged to be the one that recorded the final out of the 1908 World Series. The ball is significant to the hobby and baseball history because it represents the Chicago Cubs’ last World Series victory prior to their stunning win just a few weeks ago. The 108-year old ball sold for a remarkable $119,500.

In total, the auction garnered sales in-excess of $14.25 million. It was the highest grossing auction of the calendar year for Heritage and an indication that regardless of the economy, deep-pocketed collectors are willing to invest in high-grade example of cardboard treasures.

“The results validate the simple formula that has made Heritage the industry leader,” said Chris Ivy, director of Heritage sports Collectibles. “Present the hobby’s finest material to the hobby’s largest bidding audience and record prices will come.”

To browse the complete catalog, visit the Heritage Auctions website. To see the realized prices, you have to create an account, which is free and unobtrusive.


Rob Bertrand is a long-time Worthologist specializing in sports memorabilia and collectibles. With over 20 years in the business and an avid collector himself, he brings a wealth of knowledge to our readers. He is currently the Marketing Manager for GTS Distribution a wholesale supplier of sports and entertainment trading cards and memorabilia. He also hosts a LIVE, weekly web series, Go GTS Live – The Hobby’s Web Show, which airs on Thursdays at 9 p.m. EDT.

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