On August 27th 2022, a Topps 1952 Mickey Mantle rookie card was auctioned off for a staggering $12.6 million.
That was a record-breaking amount when it was finally sold at Heritage Auctions and many wondered quite why anyone would pay so much for a single baseball card.
There are several reasons why the card would command such a huge sum which are specific to the card itself. It is a work of art and stands out for what it represents.
In this guide, we will provide a card showcase (see also “Peter Resier: Card Showcase“) of the Mickey Mantle 1952 #311 Topps baseball card.
That will include the card’s specifications, the legend that is Mickey Mantle, the card’s rarity, and how much it can be worth.
The card simply measures two and five-eighths of an inch by three and three-quarters of an inch.
That’s the standard size for trading cards at the time but inside that tiny space is a work of art. For baseball card collectors, this particular card represents a Basquiat or a Picasso.
It features Mickey Mantle in his iconic blue New York Yankees cap looking over his right shoulder where his baseball bat is resting.
The Legend That Is Mickey Mantle
This is no ordinary baseball card because Mickey Mantle was no ordinary baseball player.
He was an icon of a beloved baseball era, specifically in New York and especially for the Yankees franchise.
‘The Mick’ became a legend and the card captures him as a rookie, just before he set off on a career that would set him apart from any other player to wear the Yankees’ pinstripes.
From being a rookie, Mantle went on to land seven World Championships, the 1956 Triple Crown, and three American League MVPs.
All this was heightened because Mantle did it with the team of the day, maybe of the entire MLB; The New York Yankees.
The Card’s Rarity
Part of the card’s huge value, and its potential value if anymore are unearthed, is how rare it is. The high-number series of baseball cards from Topps in the 1952 set was printed in exceedingly small quantities.
These are the cards numbered 311-407, and as the first one of those cards, the Mantle card is in a niche of its own.
Part of the story as to why this Mantle card is so rare and, thus, so treasured, is the print run.
It came in far too late to enter the market before the 1952 season ended so a batch of cards was left unsold and was just left in the warehouse at Topps before being disposed of.
If only they knew what they were in possession of, they might have decided to keep them.
Alas, these cards were not simply buried in the ground as that may have sparked off a huge hunt. Instead, the cards were buried at sea by a garbage barge somewhere in the Atlantic.
That typically means that a lot, if not most of, the Topps set failed to make it to circulation. Around 1,800 of the #311 Mickey Mantle Topps card from that 1952 set are said to be in existence but a lot of them are in poor condition.
The fact that so many of this specific card are in poor condition should not be a huge surprise. Mantle was yet to become a legend back in 1952 and his rookie card would have been another to be stuck between bicycle spokes.
Over a few decades, the cards will also become frayed over time.
How Much The Card Can Be Worth
The record-breaking card that sold for $12.6 million was rated at Mint+ which is essentially a condition of 9.5 out of a possible 10.
This specific card is known as the most important one in the entire industry and a symbol of baseball card collecting itself.
Mickey Mantle remains one of the most investable athletes of all time and the 1952 #311 is the zenith of baseball cards to look out for.
The condition that the card is in has a huge impact on its potential price. For instance, a PSA 8 can come with a market cap of $485,000 but is likely to sell for a lot more.
A Gem-Mint 10, if one is eventually up for sale, is estimated to be worth at least million and is likely worth more than the .6 million that the 9.5-rated card went for (see also “Zach Wilson Rookie Card: The Best Cards To Know & Their Worth“).
However, a near-mint, mint version of the card sold for $2.88 million in 2018.
The #311 baseball card of the legendary Mickey Mantle from the 1952 Topps set is the peak of card collecting. Part of the reason why the card can be sold for such astronomical sums is that it is so hard to find in mint condition.
Baseball cards from that era were played around with and the high-numbered cards from that series are in seriously limited condition.
Perhaps if a lot of those cards were not buried at sea in the Atlantic, someone could be sitting on an absolute fortune yet the rarity of the card is key.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are, apparently, three known PSA 10 1952 #311 cards of Mickey Mantle from the Topps set.
The card collector, Ken Kendrick, is said to own one of them as well as a 1909 T206 Honus Wagner in a PSA 8 and a 1954 Topps Hank Arron in PSA 10.
Kendrick owns the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team and the card belongs to THE DBACKS COLLECTION.
Alongside the #311 of Mickey Mantle, other high-numbered cards from the same set also have a high value.
These include the #407 of Eddie Mathews, the #312 of Jackie Robinson, and the #314 of Roy Campanella.
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