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Condition matters — unless it's a 1952 Mickey Mantle

Even a badly damaged 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card can command at least five figures.

As we know, the condition of a trading card is critical to collectors. But there are exceptions — cases where something graded 3 or 2 or 1 (or less!) can fetch five-figure prices.

Case in point: Mickey Mantle’s 1952 Topps card. SCD contributor Scott Pitoniak discussed this treasure in detail in the July 1, 2022 issue of SCD, and with good reason. It’s never out of style. Even examples that show creases, worn corners or chips — flaws inflicted upon them, in countless cases, by card-carrying, card-flipping kids of the 1950s —always have a ready audience.

Consider item No. 2 on this month's Top 10 chart (see below): a 1952 Mantle graded PSA 2.5. 

A 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle graded PSA 2.5.

A 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle graded PSA 2.5.

Baseball's 'Mona Lisa': How '52 Mantle became the most iconic card in hobby 

Despite dinged and rounded corners, scratches on the front that literally pull color off the image and nicks along the edges, the card sold for almost $50,000 on eBay in late June. It had dozens of suitors: Some 63 bids pushed it to a final price of $48,100.

Consider also No. 8 on our Top 10 chart: an SGC 1.5 Mantle rookie that sold for an astounding $37,643 on 53 bids. 

A 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle, graded SGC 1.5.

A 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle, graded SGC 1.5.

A close inspection of that card’s photograph shows it to be off-center with predictable corner wear. The image, however, looks cleaner and far more presentable than the PSA 2.5 noted above, no doubt contributing to the heavy bidding.

Also See: How Marshall Fogel amassed one of best collections in hobby 

In recent weeks, we’ve seen a number of other low-grade Mantle Topps rookies that have brought impressive prices. Among them:


$56,769 on 10 bids for a PSA 2.5 (as reported in our June 15 issue)

$37,590 on 65 bids for a PSA 1

$27,500 on 1 bid for another PSA 1.

We’ve also seen a number of ungraded examples of Mantle’s 1952 card change hands on eBay:

• One of them was marred by multiple creases, a heavily scratched surface and various hiccups. The seller — accentuating the positive — said in his listing only that the card has “great centering.” Otherwise, he let the photos do the talking. Even so, the card earned two bids and sold for $10,100.

An ungraded, badly damaged 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card that sold for $10,000.

An ungraded, badly damaged 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card that sold for $10,000.

• Another badly centered, roughed-up Mantle rookie sold in April for $10,000.

A creased and poorly centered 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card that sold online for $10,000.

A creased and poorly centered 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card that sold online for $10,000.

In both cases, it’s clear these cards brought enjoyment to previous owners. Two young baseball fans from generations past no doubt carried their Mantle prizes to and from school to impress their classmates — or perhaps played flipping games with a brother, dad or pal. It seems crazy now, the idea of tossing a Mantle rookie against a brick wall or onto a concrete sidewalk. But back in the day, who knew these pieces of cardboard would one day be considered art?

Top 10 Chart (through July 6)

1. $99,750 on 1 bid: 2020 Panini National Treasures Collegiate Tom Brady, #1/1 (PSA 10)

2. $48,100 on 63 bids: 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle (PSA 2.5)

3. $45,100 on 100 bids: 2009-10 Panini National Treasures Stephen Curry, #34/99, auto patch (BGS 9)

4. $44,600 on 99 bids: 2009 Bowman Chrome Mike Trout Refractor, #127/500, auto (BGS 10, auto 10)

5. $44,433 on 78 bids: 2009-10 Topps Chrome Stephen Curry Refractor, #430/500 (BGS 9.5)

6. $40,112 on 47 bids: 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan (BGS 9.5)

7. $38,044 on 75 bids: 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan (BGS 9.5)

8. $37,643 on 53 bids: 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle (SGC 1.5)

9. $37,150 on 62 bids: 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan (BGS 9.5)

10. $36,201 on 52 bids: 2018 Bowman Chrome Shohei Ohtani Orange Refractor, #21/25, auto (BGS 9.5) 

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