ATLANTIC CITY — Anthony Giordano and his twin sons were all smiles.
There’s a lot for the Giordano family to be happy about. In 29 days, a $50,000 purchase of a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card will likely be turned into an eight-figure sale to net the Giordanos millions of dollars.
The Giordanos drove to the Atlantic City Convention Center on Thursday afternoon to check out Dad’s card on display at Heritage Auctions.
As collectors flocked to see the card graded SGC 9.5, the family stood nearby. The beautiful example of arguably the most coveted sports collectible item in the hobby has been the most talked about card on display and up for auction at this year’s National.
Anthony Giordano, 76, purchased the card in 1991 from hobby pioneer Al Rosen and decided now was the right time to sell the card.
“We’ve enjoyed it for 31 years, all my friends have seen it,” said Giordano, who was being followed at The National by a production company working on a documentary on the card. “We went through this about five years. I had an offer on the card back then for over $2 million. There’s three of us, I have twin boys, so we take votes. One of my sons, Ralph, said, ‘Dad, you’ve got to sell it because once you go and once I go, nobody’s going to know who Mickey Mantle is.’ My grandson, A.J., who’s 16, my son ask him, he said, ‘A.J., do your friends know who Mickey Mantle is?’ A.J. said, ‘No, they don’t, Dad.’”
Giordano — who owned Giordano Paper Recycling — was reluctant to sell his prized Mantle, who he considered his favorite baseball player growing up in New York City.
“It was probably the second toughest decision I ever made,” Giordano said. “When I sold my company in 1999, I didn’t want to do it. had my two boys out of high school and they’re working with me.”
Giordano held onto his Mantle card for over three decades before he was urged to get it graded. He didn’t get it graded sooner because in 1991 PSA was in its infancy and no other grading companies existed.
Giordano didn’t get the Mantle card graded until last month.
“I wasn’t going to put my card that Alan Rosen wrote a letter stating that all the [Mantles] he found, that it was the finest one. I wasn’t going to put that in the hands of somebody that might have had a bad day or night before,” Giordano said. “It’s not a 10, it’s a 9.”
Prior to the Mantle card going up for auction during Heritage Auctions’ Summer Platinum Night Sports Auction, Giordano got plenty of interest from high-end collectors.
Rob Gough, an actor and entrepreneur who started the DOPE clothing line, got in touch with Giordano to try to work out a deal.
“He actually called me the night before the auction and offered my son $10 million,” Giordano said. “He said, ‘Would you take $10 million and pull it from the auction.’ I said, ‘No. We committed it to Heritage.’”
Gough made headlines in January 2021 for purchasing a PSA 9 Mantle for $5.2 million, which held the all-time sports card record in early 2021 and is now tied for second.
Giordano’s SGC 9.5 Mantle is estimated by Heritage Auctions to sell for $10 million or more.
“We have a bunch of overs and unders,” Giordano said. “We’ve got them anywhere from $15 to $30 million, we’ll see.”
As of early Friday morning, the Mantle card was at $6.42 million with the buyer’s premium. The auction closes on Aug. 27.
Buying the Mantle for $50,000 in 1991 and possibly selling it three decades later for 200 times that original price is a nice return on investment for Giordano.
“I think I did pretty good,” Giordano said with a smile.
SGC SETTING ANOTHER RECORD
At last year’s National, an SGC version of the iconic Honus Wagner T206 card sold for $6.6 million at Robert Edward Auctions. That broke the record for the highest price ever paid for a trading card.
With Giordano’s Mantle already at $6.42 million, the top two selling cards of all time have been graded by SGC.
“Definitely an honor,” SGC President Peter Steinberg said. “It’s really unreal that two of the greatest cards that have ever really circulated in our hobby are associated with the SGC brand. It’s just incredible and very thankful to have them in our holder and I certainly think the submitters on both cards made the right choice. We can be trusted with cards of that magnitude, and I think wise, too, actually.”
SGC has graded ’52 Mantle cards that received a grade of 9, but this is the company’s first 9.5.
When Heritage Auctions contacted SGC and told them the Mantle would be coming in for grading, SGC staffers prepared for its arrival.
An armored vehicle brought the card to SGC’s Boca Raton, Fla., facility. The card was graded that same day and was returned to Heritage Auctions via armored truck.
“Although it followed the SGC grading process, each step. as you can imagine, was just amplified to the nth degree and it was truly all hands on deck,” Steinberg said. “When it came time to encapsulate the card, we actually told the team we were having extended lunch, we cleared every single person out of the office just so there was absolutely no chance that any time kind disruption, disturbance could take place while handling such an important card.”
SGC has a grading scale that awards a pristine card a 10. Looking at the Mantle card, it’s tough to see any flaws with the naked eye.
So, why did the card receive a 9.5?
“Why isn’t it a 10 is the better question, because the card is just incredible,” Steinberg said. “The centering is probably the single most unique aspect of it. Anyone who’s collected ’52 high numbers knows how tough those are on centering and this card is just truly a unicorn — as damn close to 50/50 as you’re going to find, basically. It’s just got the clearest, most crisp image, it’s got color, the corners are incredible, nice and sharp. The only thing, there was the most minor toning towards the top. Most ’52 Mantles, including some that have been graded insanely high by some companies in this space have that toning all around the border. The difference between this card is it’s got the most minor light toning just towards the top edge.”
Steinberg said the toning is so minor that in a certain lighting, it can’t be seen. However, in other lighting, it is barely noticeable.
“When you’re putting a gem mint grade on a card, it truly has to be gem mint,” Steinberg said. “I’m just very proud of our team and the decisions we’ve made because I think that 9.5 grade is truly the perfect and most accurate landing spot for a true evaluation of that card’s condition. Calling that card a Gem Mint 10 on SGC’s scale would have been over-grading the card. Calling it a mint 9 would have been under-grading the card. For that reason, the 9.5 mint-plus grade we felt most appropriate.”