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Topps 1952 Mickey Mantle card with 9.5 grade expected to break sports card record

Another Topps 1952 Mickey Mantle card has hit the sports collectible market, and the 9.5 version could set the all-time record for sports cards.

ATLANTIC CITY — With the first day of the National Sports Collectors Convention in full swing, Ken Goldin stepped away from his booth.

The founder and CEO of Goldin Co. wanted to go check out the card that was the center of attention at the show: a sharp, newly-graded 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle.

Goldin made his way over to competitor Heritage Auctions’ large-scale display and was handed the ’52 Mantle.

The Mantle card is up for auction in Heritage Auctions’ Summer Platinum Night Sports Auction. It is being sold by big-time Yankees collector Anthony Giordano, who purchased the card from hobby pioneer Al “Mr. Mint” Rosen.

This 1952 Mickey Mantle card, graded SGC 9.5, is expected to break the all-time sports cards record at Heritage Auctions.

The Topps 1952 Mickey Mantle card, graded 9.5, that is up for bid at Heritage Auctions. 

“Very nice looking card,” Goldin said. “I was one of the people who was around when that find took place. I was in the hobby and I knew Rosen pretty well. He called it the nicest one he found. That’s the find where the best cards were found.”

Goldin Co. Founder and CEO Ken Goldin gets a look at the 1952 Mickey Mantle card graded 9.5 at the Heritage Auction booth at The National.

Goldin Co. founder Ken Goldin examines the 1952 Mickey Mantle card up for bid at Heritage Auctions. 

Also See: Marshall Fogel's 1952 Mantle considered the 'best of the best'

The breathtaking Mantle, graded an SGC 9.5, has already reached $6.3 million (with the buyer’s premium) as of Wednesday night. Bidding is open on the item until Aug. 27.

The card is part of Rosen’s monumental find in which he landed 75 mint 1952 Mantles in 1985. Rosen, who was nicknamed “Mr. Mint,” called this particular Mantle the best in his find.

“There are Rosen Find Mantles that I’ve graded — I’ve never held one that nice,” said Derek Grady, Heritage Auctions’ vice president of sports auctions. “It’s dead centered, the color’s immaculate, the corners are razor. This is a prototypical Rosen Find Mantle, this just happens to be the one that [Rosen] called the ‘finest.’ He saw them all, he sold them all, and he called this one the finest one that he handled. He even wrote a letter of provenance to Anthony saying, ‘Here’s the finest ’52 Mantle, enjoy it, basically.”

CARD BACKGROUND

Giordano and his son, Ralphie, went to a card show on Father’s Day 1991 in Madison Square Garden and ended up at Rosen’s table.

Giordano was enamored with the ungraded ’52 Mantle, which was priced at $57,500. The collector negotiated the price to $50,000, paying $10,000 up front and paying the remaining balance the next day.

The 1952 Mickey Mantle card, graded 9.5, with the letter of provenance from Mr. Mint Al Rosen.

The 1952 Mickey Mantle card, graded 9.5, with the letter of provenance from Mr. Mint Al Rosen.

Also See: Michael Jordan's six title-winning sneakers on display at National

The card then stayed at Giordano’s residence in southeastern Pennsylvania until earlier this year.

Looking to sell the Mantle after all these years, now was the right time for Giordano with prices being so favorable.

Heritage Auctions was contacted by Giordano, and Grady traveled to go check out the card.

“I was blown away,” Grady said about the card that was still in its original screw-down case. “I didn’t take it out that day, because he had not decided who he was going to sell it with.”

Derek Grady of Heritage Auctions shows off the 1952 Mickey Mantle with a 9.5 grade that is expected to set the all-time sports card record.

Derek Grady of Heritage Auctions shows off the 1952 Mickey Mantle with a 9.5 grade that is expected to set the all-time sports card record.

Heritage Auctions wrote up a proposal and Giordano decided to go with the well-known auction house. In order to maximize the value of the card, Grady suggested the card get graded.

“He really didn’t want it out of his possession,” Grady said. “We get it graded by SGC, because it’s better than a 9 and they have a 9.5 grade, and they did 9.5 on it.”

Grady believes the card could become the hobby’s first eight-figure item, estimating it at $10 million.

The 1952 Mantle card owned by Denver collector Marshall Fogel, one of just three graded PSA 10, has long been regarded as the top Mantle card in the hobby.

Grady said he’s been told this SGC 9.5 Mantle is comparable to Fogel’s PSA 10.

“Fogel has the best 10 of the three 10s. It’s widely known that Fogel has the best 10,” Grady said. “I have not seen Marshall’s for a long time. I’m sure it compares favorably to Marshall’s, but let’s argue this: It’s Marshall and this one, or vice versa. Those are the two best in the hobby.”

Goldin was asked if this SGC version is better than Fogel’s PSA card.

“I’m not going to compare the cards,” Goldin said. “What people have to realize is that’s not SGC calling it the finest in quotes. They’re referencing Alan Rosen. They’re referencing the fact that Alan Rosen said it was the finest that he sold, and that’s what’s important.”

A Honus Wager 1909-11 T206 card, graded SGC 3, holds the all-time record for a sports card, selling for $6.6 million at Robert Edward Auctions at last year’s National.

In early May, a Diego Maradona World Cup jersey sold for $9.3 million, breaking the record for a sports memorabilia item.

“Our goal is to beat that number, and it should by, oh, everything’s pointing north of $10 million,” Grady said. “It’s not easy to predict.” 

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