A Mint PSA 9 graded 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle baseball card sold for a record $2.88 million in an auction hosted by Heritage Auctions that ended April 19. The card’s condition fueled vigorous bidding resulting in the most expensive price ever paid at auction for a post-war baseball card.
The Mantle card was consigned directly from the private collection of former NFL lineman and Super Bowl champion Evan Mathis.
“The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card captures the attention of baseball fans, serious collectors, and investors alike and this auction made it one of the most valuable sports collectibles in existence,” said Chris Ivy, director of Sports Auctions at Heritage. “It’s a phenomenal price, a world record, but it’s also the natural progression of a trend we’ve seen building for years.”
The $2.88 million sale is the second highest sale of a sports card. The highest sports card sale distinction goes to a 1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner card that was graded PSA Excellent 5 (MC), which sold for $3.12 million in an October 2016 auction hosted by Goldin Auctions.
“More and more investors understand that elite collectibles are an asset with that rare tandem of low risk and high reward. As more investment capital has entered the market, record prices have self-perpetuated,” Ivy added.
Issued as part of its first set of baseball cards by Topps, the card is one of just six examples graded Mint 9 by PSA, the leading third-party authentication service. The winning bid surpassed the card’s previous auction record by a staggering $2.6 million, when the last Mint 9 Mantle crossed the auction block more than a decade ago.
“The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle is more than just a baseball card, it is pop culture art and the symbol of the card collecting hobby itself,” said PSA President Joe Orlando, in a press release from PSA.
Orlando added, “This new auction record is not only a record for a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle or any post-WWII baseball card, it is now the new standard for any card other than the 1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner. The fact that the last PSA 9 example was auctioned for $282,588 in 2006 shows the tremendous gains that high-end, iconic sports collectibles have generated during the last 12 years.”
Mathis considered the card the best of his high-grade card collection. He offered it through Heritage Auctions for one simple reason: to finance a new home in Tennessee so his wife and daughters may live closer to family.