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Trading card sales absolutely shattered records in 2021. Of the top selling sports cards of all time, eight of the top 11 records were broken last year.

As some more modern cards cracked the top 10, one fact is blatantly obvious: there is a new king among sports cards, with the Topps 1952 Mickey Mantle replacing the ultra-rare T206 Honus Wagner at the top. As you’ll notice, five of the top 10 spots are owned by the Mantle and Wagner masterpieces.

Of the top 10 cards, seven come from baseball, two from basketball and one each from football and hockey.

1. $12,600,000 Topps 1952 Mickey Mantle 

The ’52 Mantle has been gaining steam in recent years, setting a record at $5.2 million in early 2021. Though it was soon surpassed by two versions of the iconic Honus Wagner card, a ’52 Mantle graded SGC 9.5 not only regained the top spot, but shattered the all-time record with a $12.6 million sale at Heritage Auctions. 

The Topps 1952 Mickey Mantle card that sold for $12.6 million to set a sports card and sports memorabilia record.

Topps 1951 Mickey Mantle card that sold for $12.6 million. 

The card was part of the famous Al Rosen find from 1985 and was considered the "finest" of the lot of ’52 Mantles. Collector Anthony Giordano bought the card from Rosen for $50,000 in 1991 and held onto it for more than 30 years. 

Also See: The story behind record-setting sale of 1952 Mickey Mantle 

2. $7,250,000 Honus Wagner 1909-11 T206

The card many consider the "holy grail" of sports cards remained on top of the sports card world for most of 2022, with two SGC examples breaking the all-time record. The most recent record-holder was sold in a private sale brokered in August by Goldin Co

The 1909 Sweet Caporal T206 Honus Wagner card that set the all-time trading card record of $7.25 million at Goldin Co.

The T206 Honus Wagner card that sold for $7.25 million at Goldin Co. 

3. $6,606,296 Honus Wagner 1909-11 T206

The Wagner card had a magnificent 2021. This SGC 3 example, one of the rarest Wagner T206s in existence, sold last August through Robert Edwards Auctions for an eye-popping $6,606,296.

1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner card that sold for a record $6.6 million at Robert Edwards Auctions.

1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner card that sold for a record $6.6 million at Robert Edwards Auctions.

There are only an estimated 50-60 examples of the famous Wagner card that have survived the past 110 years. This card was originally discovered in 1973 on Long Island by Mike Aronstein, a dealer and collector from Westchester, N.Y. It later sold at a public auction in Detroit, where 26-year-old New Jersey collector Fred McKie bought it for $1,100.

Also See: Torn Honus Wagner card sells for $478K 

4. (tie). $5,200,000 Mickey Mantle 1952 Topps

The card is a PSA 9, one of only six at that grade in the world. There are just three PSA 10s housed in private collections. 

1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card that sold for a record $5.2 million. 

1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card that sold for a record $5.2 million. 

This Mantle was purchased by actor/entrepreneur Rob Gough, who got back into trading cards as an adult.

Rob Gough

Collector Rob Gough, who bought the record 1952 Mickey Mantle card. 

Gough told Sports Collectors Digest that before he bought the 9 in January 2021, he had purchased a PSA 5, 6 and 8. The card traces back to former NFL lineman Evan Mathis, who sold it for $2.88 million in 2018.

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

4. (tie). $5,200,000 LeBron James 2003-04 Exquisite Collection Rookie Parallel

This rookie patch autograph card is numbered #7/23. What’s remarkable is this version is graded BGS 9, with sub-grades of 10s for centering and surface, and went for $5.2 million through a private sale. 

2003-04 Exquisite Collection LeBron James Rookie Parallel that sold for a record $5.2 million.

Just nine months earlier, the same numbered version to 23 and a BGS 9.5 sold for $1.85 million. This is the fourth James card that has fetched $900,000 or more.

PHOTOS: Marshall Fogel's amazing collection 

6. $4,600,000 Luka Doncic 2018-19 Panini National Treasures Logoman Rookie Patch Auto

This 1-of-1 Logoman was pulled during a live break by Layton Sports Cards in May 2019. Just 22 months later, it sold for a then NBA trading card record of $4.6 million in March 2021.

Luka Doncic 2018-19 Panini National Treasures Logoman Rookie Patch Auto card that sold for $4.6 million.

Luka Doncic 2018-19 Panini National Treasures Logoman Rookie Patch Auto card that sold for $4.6 million.

The card, which wasn’t graded, was purchased by collector and entrepreneur Nick Fiorella. According to TMZ Sports, Fiorella purchased it from collector Bolillo Lajan San, who had paid at least $400,000 from the original owner.

7. $4,300,000 Patrick Mahomes 2017 National Treasures Platinum

Over the last couple of years, Patrick Mahomes has proven on the field he’s one of the NFL’s up-and-coming stars. Off the field, he has the top-selling NFL card of all time.

In July 2021, Mahomes’ 1-of-1 2017 National Treasures Platinum Shield Patch Auto card sold for a cool $4.3 million. A BGS 8.5, it has sub-grades of 9.5 for centering and corners. 

A 2017 National Treasures Platinum Patrick Mahomes rookie card that sold for a record $4.3 million.

A 2017 National Treasures Platinum Patrick Mahomes rookie card that sold for a record $4.3 million.

The rare card was purchased through PWCC Marketplace by Leo Ruberto, owner of LJ’s Card Shop in New Albany, Ohio. The card surpassed a 2000 Contenders Championship Ticket Tom Brady rookie card as the top-selling football card of all time. 

Also See: Ken Kendrick's $100 million collection 

8. $4,212,000 Babe Ruth 1933 Goudey

“The Sultan of Swat” has always been bigger than life. Now one of his cards sits in the top 10.

In July 2021, a Ruth 1933 Goudey card No. 53 in a PSA 9 grade, the highest grade in existence, sold for $4.2 million. It was previously owned by Dr. Thomas Newman, whose collection sold for nearly $25 million last summer at Memory Lane Inc.

1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #53 card that sold for $4.2 million as part of the Thomas Newman Collection.

1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #53 card that sold for $4.2 million as part of the Thomas Newman Collection.

Newman, who died of COVID in January of last year, purchased the breathtaking card for $20,000 in the mid-1990s. In the same Memory Lane auction, a Ruth 1933 Goudey No. 133 in a PSA 9 went for $1,272,000. 

9. $3,936,000 Mike Trout 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects Autographed Superfractor

When this card was sold in August 2020 by “Vegas Dave” Oancea, it was the top selling card of all time. After a remarkable 2021 for card sales, it dropped down to No. 7.

Mike Trout 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects Autographed Superfractor that sold for a then-record $3.9 million.

Mike Trout 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects Autographed Superfractor that sold for a then-record $3.9 million.

The 1-of-1 is graded BGS 9 and auto BGS 10. The Trout price eclipsed the sales of a 1909 T-206 Honus Wagner for $3.12 million, sold through Goldin Auctions in 2016.

10. $3,751,500 Honus Wagner 1909-11 T206

When this PSA 2 card sold in May 2021, it was the highest selling Wagner T206 of all time. Well, that was until three months later when the SGC 3 went for an astounding $6.6 million.

1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner card that sold for $3.75 million.

1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner card that sold for $3.75 million.

This Sweet Caporal has two creases at Wagner’s head from one side of the card to the other. No worries, it’s still one of the most sought-after pieces of cardboard in existence. The card had been sitting in a personal collection for more than 40 years before it was sold.

Also See: 75 years later, Jackie Robinson cards, memorabilia attracting big dollars 

11. $3,750,000 Wayne Gretzky 1979 O-Pee-Chee

“The Great One” now has the highest selling hockey card of all time. The iconic shot of Gretzky in his Edmonton Oilers sweater is just one of two PSA 10s that exist from O-Pee-Chee.

1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky rookie card that sold for a record $3.75 million.

1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky rookie card that sold for a record $3.75 million.

This rookie card sold for $3.75 million in May 2021, while the other PSA 10 sold in December 2020 for $1.29 million. There are also only two examples of Gretzky’s 1979 Topps — which uses the same image as the O-Pee-Chee — in a PSA 10.

12. $3,700,000 Honus Wagner 1909-11 T206

The third highest-selling Wagner T206 of all time is graded PSA 3. PSA has only graded 36 examples of this card and there are only three graded higher than a 3. 

A 1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner card that sold for $3 million.

A 1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner card that sold for $3 million.

This card was purchased by real estate mogul Kurt Rappaport in December 2020. 

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