The hobby was given a major shot in the arm following the news that a Mickey Mantle rookie card just sold for $12.6 million. The most expensive card in history, it blew past the existing record. (Earlier this month, a rare, authenticated Honus Wagner T-206 baseball card changed hands for $7.25 million in a private sale.)
In any case, it’s major news for card collectors, as the first ever eight-figure card.
What’s so special about this 1952 Mantle RC, and why did it sell for such a large fee? Here’s what you need to know about the new record holder.
The card: 1952 Topps Baseball Mickey Mantle #311 (eBay)
One of the most iconic cards in existence, the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card is special.
The iconic 1952 Topps Baseball collection was a primer for many future sets to come. For the first time, it featured full team logos, colorized black-and-white photography and a facsimile signature of the player taken directly from their player contract with Topps.
One of the more important pieces of Americana from the era, the ‘52 Mantle RC is unmistakable. There’s no better card to collect within the hobby, even if prices ensure that it’s out of reach for most of us.
It features a simple shot of the slugger holding a bat, with a deep blue sky making up the background. Our roundup of the best Mantle cards, published in June 2022, noted;
“If you’ve ever heard about record-breaking card sales for millions of dollars on the news, it’s likely to involve a graded 1952 Topps Mantle.”
As it turns out, it only took a few months for the card to break the most important record of all.
Why did this Mantle card break the record?
“[We’d] proclaim that this trading card represents the quintessence of every metric that has historically been used to measure value in the collectibles marketplace.”
“This is real rarity, not a machine-stamped “One of One” on a card printed last year. This is real significance — the cross-section of a defining moment in trading card and baseball history. This is the finest example thereof. This is a spectacular long-shot miracle of the collectible marketplace, deserving of its inevitable return to global headlines and that same question that haunts all record auction sales, spoken in all the languages of the world.”
In truth, that’s a great explanation as to why this card is worth such a large amount of money. It’s unmatched in terms of prestige, as the finest-condition example of the most iconic post-war card ever produced.
The seller, Anthony Giordano, bought it for $50,000 at a New York City show in 1991. He kept it for decades, before sending it off to SGC for grading. As it turns out, it proved to be one of the best investments within the hobby.
Breaking past the eight-figure amount was never a given, especially with the market settling down after the hype seen in the summer of 2021. However, this Mantle RC sale proves that records can still be broken at the upper end.
The aftermath of the sale
Following the sale, Heritage Auctions said:
“We always knew this card would shatter records and expectations. But that doesn’t make it any less of a thrill to be part of an auction during which a single item breaks the eight-figure threshold for the first time. It’s an extraordinary accomplishment for our wonderful team of sports experts at Heritage Auctions. And, of course, we could not have done it without our consignor, Anthony Giordano, who put his trust in Heritage to bring this amazing card to market.”
It’s fair to say that all parties are happy with the sale, especially the owner and the auctioneers. It was sold to a private bidder, which makes sense given the value of the card.
1952 Mickey Mantle sells for $12.6 million: Summary
Arguably the most famous card on the face of the planet, Mickey Mantle is still breaking records decades after his death in 1995. It’s unlikely that there will ever be a copy found in similar condition, so it’ll be worth watching if it ever comes back on sale again.
If any card is going to break the $12.6 million mark, it’s this one. It’s likely to provoke further interest in the hobby, even if the high-end release is out of reach for most collectors. We’ll also be interested to see whether it has a knock-on effect for lower grades of the 1952 Holy Grail.